Is your web presence strong enough?

Online marketing presence is critical to your business’s success or demise. You will have heard it said before: “First impressions are everything.” It’s true, the first point of contact is almost always online so it needs to turn on new business, not turn business prospects away.

Everything you need for a fierce web presence:

Check out how your website looks on mobile

More than 50 percent of website traffic comes from mobile devices so it is essential that you offer an optimised mobile experience. If not, you’re turning off potential business and getting penalised by search engines. In 2016, your organisation simply must have a responsive website.

Make your accommodation website generate sales

The most important thing when building any website is to make sure that it generates sales. As the accommodation industry is quite specific and complex when it comes to bookings, it is important that your website can convert visitors into paying guests.

Be industry-specific and provide seamless integration between your booking form, PMS and your channel manager, ensuring all systems are synchronised.

Sylvia Johnston, senior executive at HiRUM Software Solutions advised: “One of the most important considerations when sourcing a website provider in the accommodation space is to make sure they can integrate your booking form with your PMS and channel manager, ensuring your stock is always kept current eliminating overbookings, and optimising revenue opportunities.”

Faster load speed

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Online customers have no patience: they do not wait for webpages to load. A long page-loading time will turn away visitors to your site in frustration.

Not only is load-speed important for your user experience, but websites with a faster page speed will often rank higher in search results.

Make booking simple

Your website’s job is to attract people to your property and to present clear and important details about your property and its location, but your absolute priority should be easy bookings.

“Your booking mechanism must be visible, simple-to-use and most importantly able to drop the booking directly into your PMS, to ensure no overbookings are made and revenue opportunities are captilised on. Not many providers are able to do this, but the amount of time this will save you and the frustration it may alleviate is definitely worth your while,” Ms Johnston explained.

Remember, visitors want to find out your room rates and availability quickly, they don’t want to fill in a lengthy contact form, so simplify your navigation. Get their personal details to add to your database only when they book. The harder you make it, the less likely they will be to follow through.

Promote guest reviews

According to a recent study, approximately 83 percent of travelers will not book their stay at a property without reading reviews from other travelers, so make sure that you include positive testimonials on your website.

Keep updating

It is just plain tardy to have outdated information on your site! Old pictures, invalid specials, ancient testimonials or incorrect information shows a lack of care and attention to detail.

Make sure that your website is regularly maintained and keep your information current, using the latest web technologies. A knowledgeable web supplier will be able to provide you with a website assessment and make valid recommendations as to any improvements.

Don’t turn business off 

Online visitors to your website are fickle and will easily wander away from your website, never to return. So do not tolerate distractions on your website, feed visitors all the information that they need to make the booking. Do not provide links to external websites!

Create interaction

Include active content on your website: the latest specials, competitions and relevant information about activities both at your venue and in your local community. Have video and provide links to your social media profiles to promote engagement.

Check Google analytics

Browsers are being updated all the time, and your website may appear slightly different on each one. The major players; Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, are constantly evolving as design software evolves. The technology behind your website needs to be up to keep up and it is up to your web developer to ensure that your site works across all platforms.

A good website provider should provide you with a website assessment and ongoing analytic reports telling you where your website visitors are coming from, what browsers they are using and how you can tailor your website accordingly.

Assign responsibility

Earmark someone to be the manager of content for your website as most businesses find they have little budget to outsource this function. If the job is yours as resort manager, ensure that when your website is built the format is easy enough for you to manage and maintain. There is nothing more frustrating than having a wonderful website that becomes quickly outdated because you cannot amend it or afford to have it changed for you.

Rachel Pleasant, marketing manager at HiRUM Software Solutions, also stressed the importance of making sure that your website provider is using an open platform like WordPress, so that if you need to change provider at some point, you are not locked into a proprietary platform.

Content is king

Every accommodation property is unique, so you need to create a unique web presence. Don’t be a bore! Over 42 percent of property managers have not changed their website’s design in more than two years and many have had the same website design for five years or more. Just updating your website can give you a competitive advantage.

Synda Turnbull, director and senior designer at Design Central, said: “If the website is old-fashioned looking or outdated, not functioning properly, then you need to ask yourself what your website saying about your business. It is the same as any marketing tool; it needs to reflect the quality and style of your business.”

She added: “Search engine friendly copy is absolutely vital for search engine optimisation (SEO). Google and other search engines use the words on your website, as well as the page titles and descriptions, to help find your website. If the copy on your website is not SEO-friendly, this will directly affect your ranking. It is also useful to have a blog, (regularly updated), and some copy about upcoming events in your area to assist with SEO.”

Looks do count

According to Ms Turnbull, beautiful images and video of your property are requisite and will maximise the effectiveness of your online profile.

Social media

Include social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Instigate some level of social media presence, and promote it on your website. Include a social media feed and integrate some social sharing tools throughout the site or at least include some social media icons.

Make it mobile-friendly

Ms Pleasant spoke to us about mobile responsive websites. “With over 50 percent of all internet viewing done on a mobile device, it is important your website be mobile-device friendly. A key ranking criteria in the Google algorithm is website mobile-friendliness. So if you have a mobile-friendly website, Google’s search results will treat it more favourably. Bear in mind, this is just one criteria that Google considers when determining search rankings.

Ms Turnbull added: “Responsive means that your website ‘responds’ to whatever device it is being viewed on. The website adapts to your mobile phone, tablet or iPad and not just one-way, but vertically and horizontally too depending on how you use it. This is far more professional than just having a ‘mobile’ version of your website, which can appear a little odd on an iPad, for example. Consumers are tech-savvy and expect websites that look good and work well.

“If your website is slow to load, or doesn’t function properly within the first few seconds of entering the website, visitors will simply move on. For resorts in particular, it is your biggest marketing tool and should therefore be your biggest investment.”

Summing up the traits of a fierce accommodation website

Easy on the eye. Easy-to-use. Easy to navigate. Easy to find availability and rates. Easy to book. For managers? Easy to maintain the back-end. Your ideal website must be responsive to sell your property and so this is where ‘cheap and cheerful’ is not always the best attitude!

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7 years ago

The first question anyone has the ask themselves before investing in a website is ” whats its purpose” whats it there for , is it a brochure or is it there to sell and really these are two different websites.
Once that question is answered ( and many forget it ) then you can progress to round 2.
The biggest problem and don’t we all know it is that not everyone can be on page 1 of Google and with the OTA’s taking up 3-5 positions on most (destination) accommodation search ask yourself the question again.

Blue Mountains Escapes
Blue Mountains Escapes
7 years ago

Our mobile website has recently gone live. We are looking forward to an up turn in our bookings due to a more user friendly mobile site. This article has some very interesting points and suggestions.

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