The main purpose of an accommodation website is to generate direct bookings. And if you are an independent hotelier and accommodation provider, having a great website is essential.
The majority of people searching for accommodation these days use the internet; they expect to find what they want quickly and for comprehensive information to be available. A discerning potential customer will be looking for key information and images that they will use to help them decide where to stay. This information includes responses to questions they will be asking such as:
• Is the accommodation conveniently located?
• What are the rooms like and what do they come with?
• Do the rooms have views?
• What is the cost and what’s included (breakfast, free parking etc)?
• Do they have a pool and other facilities?
• Is a room available and can I book it easily (by phone, email or via a secure online booking system)
• What attractions, dining options and other features are located in the area?
• Is this the place for me?
As an independent hotelier and accommodation provider it is critical to your business’ growth that your website is designed with its primary purpose in mind, which is to transition the person visiting your website into a paying and hopefully repeat visitation customer.
But designing a website for the accommodation industry is a balancing act.
The design needs to be eye catching, position your brand as one that can be trusted, and it must create a sense of your style of accommodation within seconds of your potential customer landing on your website.
You don’t want to present too much or too little information on each webpage, the navigation needs to be simple, the option to Book has to be accessible at all times and your site needs to include amazing high-quality images of your accommodation’s rooms and features as part of the web design. You need to answer all of your guests’ most pressing questions in an easy to understand format, so they don’t have to start frantically Googling around and end up on other hotel’s website. Put simply, your customers want to know what they’ll be paying for and feel confident to press that ‘Book Now’ button.
If a potential customer can’t find the information they want within a few clicks, you have potentially lost a booking. They also expect to be able to easily view your website from a desktop or mobile but we’ll get to that a little later.
Another important reason to have great accommodation website is for marketing purposes. You can promote specials or sales, link back to your website from social media platforms and electronic newsletters, promote the local area and its key features and essentially use your website to remain top-of-mind with your existing clientele and to attract new clients. Your website can potentially promote your accommodation to the world!
And with high OTA commission fees being charged you really do need your own channel for people to make direct bookings. Why pay high commissions to OTAs when you can have your own hotel website and control your own bookings?
However, a website is organic, which means that you don’t just build one, load the information and images and then ‘set and forget’. It’s a really useful tool for interacting with clients and for staying ahead of your competitors so you need to have the time and expertise to keep your pages topical, visually interesting and up-to-date. Users expect websites to be dynamic and the more effort you put into your website the more likely you are to attract repeat visitations to your website or to generate bookings.
So let’s break it down into a few key reasons why a website is essential to any hotelier or accommodation provider in the 21st Century.
1 – You have to sell yourself
Word-of-mouth is fantastic as are the more traditional methods of marketing such as advertisements but a website is a one-stop-shop where you can promote all the information that a potential customer would want or need in order to decide to stay with you. Remember that list of questions that you need to include information about on your site? Websites are the most convenient way to present this information and your audience is unlimited, in fact it is potentially global. We also mentioned previously that it’s an effective way to promote specials and promotions or that glowing review you received via TripAdvisor. You can easily link your social media platform communications back to your website generating a better return on your time and money investment; and drive traffic back to your website. A website is in essence, the central component in an effective sales and marketing strategy.
2 – Your website promotes your brand
Brand is king and it is no different in the travel and accommodation industry. Think TripAdvisor and some of the larger international hotel chains. You don’t need to have a well-known brand but you do need a strong brand that is easily identifiable and applied consistently across all your marketing and communications. This is where having a good website is important as it is the key mechanism to position and promote your brand, who you are, and the accommodation experience you are selling.
3 – Hone in on direct bookings and sales
Increasingly, travellers are steering away from OTA search engine advertisements and are booking their accommodation direct. It’s easier to change their booking, more often than not the rate is better and travellers are becoming more independent so want control of their bookings. They also want that personal touch. However, this is where it is really important that your website enables anyone interested in staying with you to easily make a direct booking. Your online reservation system must allow people to check that the room is available, check what is included, confirm the price, and secure the room either with an up-front payment or reservation. It’s also critical that your systems provide an instant booking confirmation all via a secure, integrated booking engine that syncs up with your property management systems.
4 – Sell your accommodation experience, with a blog!
OTAs are limited in the amount of information that is provided as they rely on key words, one initial image and a specific number of characters to promote your accommodation whilst simultaneously presenting other accommodation options. You can use your website to not only promote the rooms and facilities but also the surrounding area. Accommodation websites need to promote what their guests can do in the area, great places to eat, unique events and activities, where they can go with their kids, and other features that will attract them to the area. This is all part of the travel experience. Once again it’s easy to create a Blog (web-speak for an article) or Things to Do webpage, but it’s essential that the information is constantly updated. Blogging can also be a very powerful tool for your hotel as you can create content to attract your ideal guest. In addition, blogs can be fantastic for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ensuring that your accommodation is found.
5 – You can use your website to understand your customer’s demographics
Nowadays you can use tools like Google Analytics in the back-end of your website to better understand your customer and who is visiting your website. You can even use Google Analytics to determine your customer’s location, how long they stayed on your website and which pages they visited. This information can be used to create more targeted marketing or sales campaigns and ensure that your marketing budget is providing the best return on investment for you.
Web Works That Work – the affordable alternative
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed don’t be! Web Works That Work builds effective websites specifically for the tourism and accommodation sector. We understand the need to produce a functional, attractive and affordable website that will work for you and the growth of your business. We create that great accommodation website for you so that you can focus on the other aspects of running your business.
Because we only build websites for the tourism sector we understand and can create a website that will not only help you to generate sales but will position your brand and incorporate the key features of an accommodation website we have just outlined.
Most importantly, we work with boutique and small accommodation providers. We appreciate that a website is only one part of your business and its operating costs. That’s why we only focus on producing modern, responsive (*) and effective accommodation websites that are not only affordable but are effective.
We can build you a completely new customised website. Or we can transition your current website over to a web platform that is purpose-built to meet the tourism and accommodation industry needs; whilst updating the look, feel, content and images to ensure your website is current and relevant.
Web Works That Work and the Koncept Konnect team can support you post-launch with digital marketing, web design changes, development improvements, or simply keeping your website up-to-date with the latest browser and security updates. We can also provide support with sales + marketing, guest communications, produce blogs and manage your social media platforms. Read more.
Why not give us a call to discuss your needs? We’d love to hear from you – phone Kim on 0429 969 581 or Email Us.
(*) Responsive design renders the website into the best format based on the screen size or device being used.