People always say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, in the case of your website, they will and do judge straight away! First impressions count and it’s important that your website has all the right components to convert those customers.
Five signs that scream YES…You need a new website! Let’s review them now.
1) Dated Imagery
How current are the photos on your website? Have they been updated in the last year or two? Have your property’s rooms recently been remodeled?
Pictures say a thousand words and photos, especially if they’re rotating in flash or the largest feature on the page, are what visitors notice first. If a visitor sees photos of a dim, empty lobby and a room with old TVs and fixtures, it may immediately cause them to go to your competitor. Hire a professional photographer immediately.
2) Non-compelling Imagery
Does your property look empty, with no cars in the parking lot, or zero guests walking the grounds? Does your property have vibrant photos of local attractions – whether it’s the outdoors, shopping areas, theme parks etc?
Your property’s website should have exciting, professional photos at all times, especially on the homepage, since it’s seen by nearly 100% of your website visitors. Don’t have two rotating photos of an empty lobby and a bed. Have up to five rotating photos of your best rooms, the pool that show guests relaxing, and most importantly, a photo of nearby local attractions, such as people enjoying a theme park, businessmen interacting at a convention center or hikers enjoying the outdoors.
3) Non-engaging Content
Does your site’s content instantly spark interest in the travel shopper? With the short attention span of consumers and the assault of ads and content they’re exposed to, they hardly ever read an entire page worth, but they do at least skim it… after they’ve been engaged with the imagery of course.
Besides the fact that your content has to be written with keywords and key phrases to help with search engine rankings, it’s crucial that it sells what the travel shopper wants. If you’re a luxury resort, you should sell the luxuries and amenities of your property – things like a spa and room service. You should also, even on the homepage, have relevant content about local attractions or demand generators. Often times, guests search for a property with close proximity to a place or event, not just for the property itself. If you’re located within a mile from the zoo or a botanical garden, emphasize that in your content. Capitalize on your proximity to the attractions, and try to form an emotional connection with the shoppers immediately.
4) Poor Navigation
Is your site map organized in a manner that’s easy for visitors to navigate and find relevant information? First and foremost, no matter where a visitor navigates to, there should always be a clear link directly back to the homepage. Think about the goals of your website, and make sure the most important links are prominent and easy to reach from anywhere.
Second, the booking engine should be a distinct call to action on the homepage, always above the page break. Eg at the top of the page, or on the side at eye level. Third, don’t have too many sub pages on different levels. If a visitor clicks on “Event Space” from the homepage, gets to a second page, clicks on “Ballroom,” gets to a third page and clicks on “Weddings,” before clicking to yet another “Bride and Groom” page, then it’s too deep in the navigation. A visitor should never have to go through more than two or three clicks from the homepage to navigate anywhere on your site.
5) Alarming Website Statistics
Are travel shoppers staying on your site longer and viewing more pages than they did last year? Is your site ranking higher in the search engines for crucial keywords and phrases? Is your overall site traffic growing?
All of these questions and more need to be answered regularly at your property. Review how shoppers find your site, which pages they are visiting and how much time they’re spending there. Look at your Google Analytics, and learn what every statistic means to your bottom line. These are key indicators about how well you’re engaging shoppers, and how you can improve your site to increase online bookings. An overall “health review” of your site should be done quarterly.
Now that you’ve thought more about your property’s website and considered the aforementioned five potential issues, how do you feel about your site? Does it need a design and/or layout makeover? Do you feel your visitors are engaged with photos and content and compelled to book? Your website is your 24/7 sales tool, so it must be up to par to consistently fill the rooms.
If your property clearly does not have any of these five issues, chance are, the design and layout is in excellent shape. But if any of these signs ring true, whether it’s one or all five, it’s probably time for a site revision, such as updated images and content and a professionally diagrammed layout.
This is where hiring an in house expert, using a consultant, or partnering with a hotel internet marketing company would be beneficial. A content management system that allows you to make updates to the site without much design or technical knowledge is also a cost-effective, beneficial option. Because after all, improving your site will only help increase the time visitors spend on it, which will in turn, boost your direct online reservations. For more information about website design, or for an obligation free quote for a new website, speak to TA Fastrack today on 07 3040 3588 or visit www.tafastrack.com.au