Is ‘hate’ a strong word? Not in this context - because if you’ve ever had the misfortune of visiting a website only to be frustrated beyond belief by the way it’s constructed, you’ll have no doubt uttered that very word.
Terrible websites are commonplace in the hotel industry. And this is for one very simple reason; the reliance on OTA listings has inadvertently forced many hoteliers to completely ignore the most important online presence of all.
Nothing is more valuable online than a business’s own website, and the same goes for hotels.
If yours is languishing (come on - you know it is!) or if you’re constantly scratching your head, wondering why you’re not getting enough direct bookings, here’s seven things that visitors - and potential guests - probably hate about it:
1. They can’t find the Book Now button
We’ve covered this a lot, yes, but it’s because we continue to witness incredibly poor placement of Book Now buttons on hotel websites.
This button is the ultimate call-to-action for your website - it’s the one thing you want everyone to click before they leave. So - why hide it?
If yours takes mere seconds to find - that’s too long. Position it front-and-centre at the top of the page and make it big, bold and beautiful. Don’t hide your Book Now button pages deep!
2. You’ve spent three minutes on the copy
The first paragraph of your website could be the the first meaningful contact a potential guest has with the hotel.
So why ruin the opportunity with poor copy?
Despite the rise in popularity of online video and the importance of imagery on the web, words still play a pivotal role in converting passers-by into paying customers. If you quickly whipped up the copy for your hotel website during a lunch break, you didn’t give it the time it deserves.
Get a professional in, or ask your marketing agency for advice on how to construct the best, most engaging copy for your hotel website.
3. The navigation is confusing
Website navigation should be intuitive and approachable. Menus that are adorned with countless options and drop-downs are an immediate turn off.
Keep the number of pages listed in your main site navigation to a minimum and use simple language; for example, try and avoid swapping the word ‘Rooms’ for ‘Sleep’ (it’s irritating - trust us).
4. Your web designer has put tech prowess before function
We love web designers, but we know that if you leave some of them to their own devices, they’ll quickly get lost in a sea of new technologies about which they get very excited indeed.
That’s great, until each and every new technical and design language bandwagon onto which they jump ends up on your hotel website.
Trends in web design and coding come and go, so be sure to work with web developers who know the value of sticking with industry standards and practices that are proven.
5. It isn’t mobile friendly
A simple one, this.
Grab your smartphone and access your hotel’s website.
Does it work? Brilliant! Move on to point 6.
Does it fail to load or require endless amounts of pinching and zooming? Speak to your web designer!
6. There aren’t enough images
We extolled the virtues of great copywriting in point 2, and the same goes for the imagery used on your website.
As a hotel business, you benefit from being able to lean on entirely unique photography of your own venue in order to raise occupancy levels.
Don’t pass on this significant opportunity by quickly taking a few snaps of the place with your iPhone - invest instead in the services of a pro photographer who will show off the property in it’s best possible light. Potential guests will appreciate the efforts you go to with this and repay you with far more direct bookings.
7. They had to resort to picking up the phone
Most industries are forging ahead with what has become known as ‘digital transformation’ and in the process, they’re raising the digital expectations of consumers.
Every transaction is now expected to be entirely possible online, and if you’ve included any kind of barrier on your website that prevents a potential guest from completing their booking journey without speaking to you, you’re immediately on the back foot.
If someone really wants to stay at your hotel but can’t find the answer online to the question of whether or not you accept dogs, they’ll reluctantly have to pick up the phone. Do you want a reluctant call from a guest?
Some of the best hotel businesses in the world have awful websites, so if yours has fallen foul of the points above, don’t despair - it’s fixable, and once fixed will encourage more people to book direct than ever before!