What a property needs on its website - Insights

What a property needs on its website

Insights

Google 650Over the past decade, technology has impacted the way hospitality businesses of all sizes operate. For independent properties, it has been a game changer. Now more than ever, independent properties are able to compete against large, traditional properties. A combination of technology and changes in traveler trends allow all types of properties to thrive.

Even with new technological advancements, a property’s website remains one of the most important marketing assets. There are many basic principles each property should follow to set themselves up for success. New technology can live and breath on a property’s website and supercharge their direct booking initiatives. Here we’ll walk through some of the most important aspects of a property’s website.

An integrated booking engine

First and foremost, every independent property should have an integrated booking engine. If a guest has managed to find your website, you want to do everything in your power to capture their booking.

Direct bookings can and should be the most valuable type of bookings properties receive, simply because they’re commission-free. Integrating a booking engine into your website gives you the ability to accept commission-free booking engines while providing a good booking experience for the guest.

The guest experience starts before a guest even arrives at a property, and property owners should do everything in their power to make transactions efficient. For a long time, and even still today, properties will use inquiry forms that require a property owner or manager to individually respond to emails. Online travel agencies and ecommerce in general have changed consumers’ expectations when it comes to purchasing something online. Almost no guest wants to email back and forth when immediate booking is an option on other sites.

The best booking engines allow properties to accept bookings and payments, as well as confirm the stay both to the guest and their property management system. A property’s booking engine should also allow them to design it to match their look and feel. Branding is important!

A simple navigation

A property’s website should be incredibly easy-to-use. In 2017, the world is full of internet savvy people, so a navigation should be simple and efficient. For most properties, it makes sense to include a ÒBook NowÓ or ÒCheck AvailabilityÓ button on each screen. Navigating to a booking engine should take little to no effort on the guest’s part.

Your top level navigation should include just the basics without going into every detail of your website. Both Code Hostel and Astor Hostel have websites with good navigations. Code Hostel has Home * Booking * Blog * Reviews * About Us * Contact Us * Find Us * FAQ. Astor Hostel displays Overview * Rooms * Spaces * Gallery * Video * Location. Both websites do a great job of only presenting the information a guest would need to make a decision to book.

Make it visual

Ask anyone about website design and they’ll likely say something about including big, beautiful pictures. And we’re here to offer the same advice. Properties should showcase their property, as guests usually don’t want to leave anything to chance. Include a variety of images including typical promotional photos as well as more authentic photos captured by your staff and guests. International Travelers House does a good job of this on their website.

Mobile-friendly

Every website in the world needs to be mobile friendly. More people accessed the internet via a mobile device than desktop computer in 2016, according to Search Engine Journal. The path to booking is not always straightforward and a guest may visit a site several times on different devices before pulling the trigger.

Websites that are not optimized run the risk of being left behind by both potential travelers and search engines. Google will not show non-mobile optimized websites to people searching on mobile devices, which can be a huge problem in our mobile connected world. Most website templates and website services offer mobile solutions that are easy to implement. It’s just a matter of making the initial switch.

Accurate information

Property owners and managers should update their website regularly. That should go without saying, but a lot of times, independent properties get busy and some things are left to collect dust. A website should not be one of them.

If a property’s website has inaccurate information, whether it’s about room rates, amenities, or availability, it will deter guests or lead them astray.

Updating your website on a regular basis also has SEO benefits. Google and other search engines consistently scan the web for fresh content. It’s been proven that websites benefit from being updated on a consistent. Keep your information relevant and let the search engines know you’re still active.

HaveÊa blogÉ seriously

One of the best ways properties can update their websites on a regular basis is to have a blog. Blogging is a great way to expand a property’s reach and to join (or create!) the conversation in your local area and beyond. There are a lot of reasons people don’t blog, some say they don’t have time, others say they don’t know what to write about, and a few think it’s a complete waste of time.

Properties don’t have to write the next best-selling novel or go ÒviralÓ every week for blogging to be worth it. The best way to go about content is to document, don’t create, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk. Properties have a lot going on around them, events, seasonal changes, interesting guests, and more. Any property can capitalize on the things going around the to create content that’s shared from their point of view. Our advice? Post at least one blog a week and start to gain traction.

City guides

One thing we love to see on a property’s website is a city guide. Property owners, operators, managers, and employees know their destination best. There is likely a unique point-of-view properties can share including recommendations for food, activities, special events, and hidden secrets. We suggest properties include a map with different points of interest so that employees can easily help guests navigate points of interest. We suggest having a city guide on a property’s website as well as printed out to allow guests to access content where they need it.

FAQ page

An FAQ page is essential to any property’s website. Most of the property owners we talk to tell us that they answer the same questions over and over again. An FAQ page gives properties a place to send their questioning guests and also provides information before they have a chance to ask. It’s a win-win, properties save time and the guests get the info they need.

FAQs can include everything from transportation options to the best restaurant in town. Depending on the property type and location, the questions will vary. Creating a well-designed website that increases the guest experience and direct bookings is easier than ever. Technology for independent hoteliers is now more available to properties of all sizes. Out-of-the-box solutions make creating a better website and accepting reservations in real-time a no-brainer.

 

By Alex Gaggioli – _Marketing Coordinator at Cloudbeds

Alex works as a Marketing Coordinator out of the sunny San Diego office. He is a social media addict with a passion for travel and technology. Find him on social media to connect about all things tech and travel.

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