A website is an amazing brand-building tool. But most hoteliers don’t build websites just to increase awareness of their property or to showcase pretty pictures. They’re looking for results.
Your website can no longer be just an online business card. It needs to be an automated selling machine.
If you think of your website like an E-commerce tool, it makes it easier to get into the right mindset. It gets you thinking about compelling product descriptions, pricing strategies, getting people to buy with fewer clicks, reviews, and testimonials, including trust indicators on your website, and all the things that make an E-commerce site successful.
Here’s what you can do to make your website into a strong E-commerce tool.
Create An Exceptional User Experience
User experience is somewhat subjective. Some people like certain designs or colors, others don’t. But there are a few basic principles that can make a significant difference.
Here are several elements you need to bear in mind:
- Navigation. Is it easy for users to find what they’re looking for on your site? Have you limited what they can click on? Is it easy for them to find their way around your site?
- Device optimization. Does your website work on all browsers? Are you prioritizing mobile?
- Clarity. Do your users understand what purpose each page on your site serves? Do you have clear call to actions?
- Personalization. Are you delivering the right messages at the right time? Does the copy on your website reflect to the intention of the user?
Build Trust & Use Credibility Indicators
When people come to your website to book a room, they want to know that your site is secure and trustworthy.
Displaying Better Business Bureau, VeriSign, or other recognized badges on your site can reassure your visitors.
You can also utilize reviews, quotes, and social proof from past customers to increase trustworthiness.
Pay attention to the basics. Feature high-quality images, display availability, make the price clear and readable, let people check out with a single click. Usability can factor into your credibility because if your site doesn’t work or is inefficient, people will not want to use it and may opt to book through an OTA instead.
Search Optimize Your Website
Google is looking to direct users to high-quality content. If your website is search optimized, you’ll be able to drive more organic traffic to your site, which can lead to more bookings and profit for your business.
Follow local search optimization best practices. Display your address on every page of your website. Make it easy for people to contact you with a phone number and email address. Get your guests to review your hotel on Google.
Content marketing can also help you build a stronger online presence. You can use your blog to answer customer questions, offer travel tips, news and information about your locality, and so on. While this is a long-term strategy, and it will require ongoing effort, good content is the best way to optimize for search over the long haul.
E-commerce can teach you a great deal about how your website should work, and how you can use it to get more bookings and drive more profit. Study what the top E-commerce sites are doing well to see what ideas you could apply to your own site.
OTA commissions can be high, and relying on them means giving away a chunk of your profit. But if your website offers a better, more reliable experience for your customers, they are more likely to book through your website than through the alternatives.