Posted at Jul 3, 2017 7:02:00 AM by THAT Agency | Share
What is the most important factor in the success of your hotel? Is it the name you have established? The location in which you operate? The accommodations you offer or the value-adds you deliver to enhance customer experiences? In a word, “Yes.” It’s all of these -- but not only these. One of the most significant elements of success comes into play well before guests ever walk through your door: your web presence.
Hotel digital marketing is just as critical to your bottom line as on-premise amenities. To really make sure your design is inviting and modern, make sure you take a look at the latest web design trends. Here are five tips for attracting guest attention as they progress along their buying journey. Help them reach their destination -- i.e. your hotel -- easily and conveniently.
Be mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first
The first rule of hotel web design is to cater to your mobile audience. Over 20 percent of bookings are made via mobile, and according to Google, mobile hotel inquiries have increased nearly 50 percent in the past year.
Travel sites have become more sophisticated and customer-focused: this has decreased time spent per session by about 7 percent. While we want people to stay on-site longer, this is actually a positive sign as they are finding what they need more quickly and efficiently. Finally,mobile conversion rates have increased 88 percent. The importance of a well developed mobile site cannot be overstated: a 2014 Travel Study conducted by Google found that 83 percent of travelers have run into mobile-unfriendly sites. Less than a quarter (23 percent) put in the effort to continue.
Responsive websites (which automatically adjust to meet the requirements of different devices) are not a nice-to-have today; they are an absolute must-have.Remember, too, that about 46 percent of people who research hotels via mobile switch to other devices. Ensuring their experiences are streamlined and uninterrupted is essential.
Utilize content marketing
Content helps you deliver value to the customer before they even book accommodations. Today’s consumers don’t want a hard sell; they want information. They want a story. They want a good reason why they should spend their hard-earned money at your establishment. Content gives them all of this and more, while enabling you to build trusting relationships with prospects.
One hotel that does this right is Marriott. They’ve even gone so far as to develop a digital magazine, the Marriott Traveler. Vice President, Creative and Content Marketing, David Beebe, says that the magazine offers “authentic travel stories and experiences from across the world written by local and global influencers passionate about where they live and where they travel… It is our belief consumers appreciate well-crafted content that provides value to them, and they in turn will provide value back to us.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Marriott is spot-on, a prime example of the efficacy of hotel content marketing strategies. But, you may argue, this is a chain, and they have deep pockets. The good news is that content levels the field. You can offer stellar content via your blog and social media platforms. Trends show that small and independent establishments are a real disruptor in the growing travel market; now is the time to capitalize on that opportunity.
Make sure your content is fully optimized for SEO: include carefully targeted keywords on each page. Best practice is to use longtail keywords or phrases that reflect what customers are really searching for (e.g. best hotels in Miami Beach or top 10 attractions in Delray). Like Marriott, ensure your content offers value to guests: tips on traveling, what to pack, how to get around, special offers, sights to see, etc.
Include aspirational images and videos
Whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure, people want to escape their daily routines for a while. There are a handfull of Micro-moments that occur during the booking process. According to Google, 37 percent of US travelers think about planning a vacation once a month; 17 percent do so at least once a week. Google calls this “I-want-to-get-away moments.” Videos and images help you leverage the opportunities these moments present. About 106 million of YouTube’s unique monthly visitors are travelers; they are looking for enticing content. Give it to them. Again, be sure to optimize your visual content using appropriate tags and descriptions. Cross-post on your website, social media, and video sites, like YouTube.
Offer a secure booking function
It can be frustrating to spend time searching and researching a hotel only to find that you cannot book a room from the website. Often, this frustration will drive potential customers away. Include a booking function that works across devices. It should make booking easy and fast.
Also consider linking to a map so guests know how to get there without leaving your website, highlighting special offers, and delivering automatic confirmation via text or email. The firm assisting you with your hotel web design and development needs can help you implement this integral feature.
Highlight special offers and include clear CTAs
Include eye-catching banners or buttons, alerting customers to special offers. You can create a sense of urgency which helps convert visitors (e.g. Don’t miss this: Book a room now and get a spa visit on us!). Also be sure to include a clear call-to-action on each page. Book Now. Check Availability. Get Rates. Learn More. Sign Up for Our Newsletter. Let visitors know exactly what their next steps should be.
Bonus: Clarify and simplify to amplify results
Clean up your website. It should be free of clutter and chaos. Discard outdated elements (e.g. Flash or automatic-play videos) that burden your site and slow down its loading times. Opt for a clear, simple interface to attract customers. You don’t want to overwhelm or overstimulate them. Make your website as welcoming and inviting as your hotel.
Does your website need a visit from housekeeping? Team up with a firm that specializes in hotel marketing services to get your virtual presence up-to-date and working efficiently to build your bottom line. For more information on how your website drives you hotel marketing strategy, download our comprehensive guide. Your website is the heart of your digital marketing efforts and it needs to invite guests to book directly!