Did you know that the first time a potential guest visits your hotel website, what he sees there could make or break the deal?
A recent research study conducted by Sabre Hospitality Solutions, revealed, ‘More than 60 percent of all online hotel bookings are made on the first visit to a hotel’s website, and over 80 percent of all online bookings are made on the same day of the first visit.’
These facts and stats mean that your hotel website needs to pack a punch in order to deliver results. These facts and stats also represent an opportunity – to evaluate your website, enhance it and gain more guests.
The first step in the evaluation process is keeping in mind that your hotel website is the first point contact with potential guests. A shoddy looking, slow loading and difficult to navigate website reflects badly on you and your offerings. Think of the affect, your hotel has on a guest when he walks through your doors and striving to achieve the ‘Wow’ effect for your hotel website. To create ‘Wow’ website, most experts list the following as the key ingredients:
- Visual Appeal: A hotel website needs to have a visually appealing homepage to grab and hold onto a browser’s attention. An attractive website will also create a good first impression and will encourage a stronger user engagement i.e. encourage the visitor to make a reservation immediately.
- Navigation: Having simple and clear navigation, which allows visitor to browse through the website easily, is extremely important as visitors who encounter bad navigation will move on rather than exerting extra efforts to locate information.
- Keywords: Incorporate keywords and key phrases into your content. These words and phrases will help search engines index your website correctly, increase your search engine ranking and improve your conversion rate.
- Unique and Up-to-date Content: Do not duplicate content. Search engines love unique and informative content. You should provide sufficient content on every page of your website including text, audio, video etc. You should also make sure all information is current. For example, in 2010, content for events that happened in 2008 should not display. This creates negative impression for visitors.
- Optimize images: Search engines only index text. To make the most out of your images, you should optimize your images with Alt tags.
- Sitemap: Add a sitemap to your website. This ensures that search engine spiders will index every page.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when evaluating your website from visual appeal to simple and clear navigation. The study by Sabre Hospitality Solutions also revealed that, in addition to a visually appealing home page, “calls-to-action” repeated consistently throughout the landing and interior pages can directly affect online bookings’. This means you should include persuasive content and reservation links across the website, not only on the homepage. This will enable the visitor to book the second he is convinced without having to look for a reservation link or go back to the homepage.
We hope this article has been informative and wish you luck in your website evaluation and renovation efforts.