May 25, 2009 - Mumbai.
A website is not an animated brochure, it is the most cost-effective and effective sales tool available today.
Majority of you agree that having an online presence for your hotel is essential and developed an aesthetic hotel website. To gain the attention of holiday seekers and business travelers, you have even optimized your website using utilized search engine optimization. Despite these efforts, many of you may have noticed that there are some hotel websites’ consistently perform better than yours (convert a higher percentage of visitors into guests). The secret of these hotels’ success is not - lower room rates, a bigger marketing budget, or even discounted holiday packages; it is simply their awareness that driving traffic to their hotel website and converting visitors into guests are two distinctly separate and equally important activities.
These hotel’s in addition to optimizing their websites to improve their website ranking on search engines also use website optimization to maintain the visitor’s interest and persuade them to become guests. Website Optimization refers to a website's ability to sell the hotel, once users visit the site. Here are some steps that you can take to enhance (optimize) your hotel website:
The First Impression
A growing fad is to create completely flash-based websites to add an air of sophistication to your website, but is it worth it? Creating a flash website is costly and time consuming. It is more difficult to make changes on a flash website, this big ‘negative’ as you will not be able to changes to features or room rates quickly, depending on market changes. Also, search engines only read text, so, flash-based websites tend to receive low ranking.
Another and very important issue with ‘flash’ websites is that they take twice or even thrice as long to load as a regular website. If your visitor does not have a high-speed connection, the long wait could put him off ever before he enters your website. Even if the flash loads quickly, most visitors are inclined to skip the introduction and get directly to the actual information. So, if you are using flash, use it moderately so it enhances not subtracts from your site.
A Powerful Salesperson
When you design your hotel brochure, you don’t only consider aesthetics, you also pay attention to the content. You make sure that the content is appealing, well written and has beautiful hotel photographs that add value. Similarly, when you design your hotel website, you have to consider all the above-mentioned details and a few more such as a more sales oriented and keyword rich content.
A hotel website is more than a brochure it is a real time booking force. So, make sure that you need to use powerful sales oriented words and descriptions that will push the individual to click on the Book Now button and make a reservation instantly. Be sure to include keyword rich content so search engines can locate your website easily.
Always Remember, Photographs are important, they help attract the visitor interest but the content persuades visitors to become guests.
Navigational ease is extremely important for every website. Most of the time when a visitor arrives at a hotel website, he is seriously looking for hotel accommodation and doesn’t want to play hide and seek to find your navigation tabs, so make sure they are upfront and are clearly marked. Similarly, don’t use fun, wacky or even overly clever titles such as front desk for home or cover for costs, these types of titles work better on social networking sites where people are just surfing and relaxing. All a guest wants is to find all relevant information quickly.
Close Sales in real time
A real time booking engine is the key benefit of having a hotel website. By offering an online booking facility on your hotel website, you not only shorten the look-to-book time but also the amount of commission you pay to third party intermediaries. If you don’t have a real time booking engine, get one. The days of email reservations have past. People are no longer satisfied with this time consuming booking method, they want to be able to make reservations and receive confirmations instantly. If you do not offer them instant booking facilities, they will move on to competitors who are offering them instant confirmations.
Today, real time booking engines are affordable by everyone even the small bed and breakfasts in a remote countryside. There are online hospitality solution providers who will provide you with everything from online rate and inventory management tools to a wide range of payment options. Moreover, you don’t have to upgrade your infrastructure or pay an exorbitant fee and you can close sales instantly, online.
Optimize for Ranking
Include optimal keywords and phrase in your website content make it easier for search engines to locate your website and receive a higher ranking on the search engine result pages. You can find optimal keywords and phrases for your website with the help of research tools such as Google AdWords, Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, etc. You can use these optimal keywords and phrases as tags (title tags, description tags, etc) or text on your website.
To summarize, when you design your hotel website, you have to make sure that the content is appealing, well written, has sales oriented text and beautiful hotel photographs just like your hotel brochure. You also need to include keyword rich text, title tags and Meta tags to make it easier for search engines to locate you. Keep your navigation tools upfront and simple so visitors can locate information with ease. And most importantly, have a real time reservation link on every page so the visitor can book easily. By using these optimization tips, you can improve your online conversion rate and get a bigger piece of the online travel market.