With online travel agencies charging anywhere between 15% and 30% in commission, hotels need to increase the number of bookings made directly if they are to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. To do that, they need a website from where direct bookings can be made. Here, we explain the key features that a hotel website will need if it is to be successful.
Smartphones are now the most common way that people use to search the internet and increasingly they are being used to make purchases and bookings. A good hotel website should display correctly on whatever device the searcher is using and to do this, you will need a responsive theme. If your website doesn’t display properly on phones and people can’t access its content, you may lose half of your visitors and their bookings.
Great images are often what help people decide to book with one hotel over another. Indeed, if the images on your website are good enough, people will be willing to pay more to stay with you. Because of this, it is worth investing in a professional photographer to take the shots you need. They’ll know the right angles, the best lighting, the proper things to focus on and how to dress the hotel before taking the shot.
- Helpful content
Potential visitors often have a lot of questions that need answering before they make a decision to book. For example, they might want to know about the hotel’s location, parking, prices, on-site amenities, different types of rooms, its proximity to nearby attractions and so forth.
As a lack of such information can cause some people to look elsewhere, this type of content needs to be easily found and clearly presented so that guests’ questions are properly answered and booking decisions are fully informed.
- Direct booking engine
The primary aim of your website is to generate new bookings, so it is absolutely critical that guests can do this directly on your site. To do this, you will need an integrated booking engine, preferably one that links with your management system and which is secure and PCI-compliant.
Installing a booking engine on your website helps reduce your reliance on online travel agencies and cuts the amount you pay in commission.
- Capturing leads
Not every website visitor is ready to make a booking straight away, so it is important to have different ways of capturing leads that you can use to increase bookings at a later date. This can range from ‘contact us’ forms so people can ask questions before making a decision, to email subscription popups so people can sign up to receive special offers and the latest hotel news. Increasingly, hotels are also making greater use of online chat and chatbots to generate leads.
- Social proof
Social proof is vital to the success of any business that sells things online and hotels are no exception. The guests of tomorrow want to know what yesterday’s guests think about your hotel and this can have a significant impact on bookings.
To make sure that potential guests get to see how happy your past guests have been, you need to make your social proof a prominent feature of your website. You can embed ratings and reviews from third-party sites on your website and provide links to your reviews so they can read them.
- Visitor analytics
Though not a feature a visitor can access, using tools like Google Analytics on your website can provide you with a wealth of helpful information. You can see who is looking at your site and where they are based, learn which pages are most and least visited, see which pages cause people to abandon the site and much more. With all this data at your fingertips, you can make informed decisions about where your website needs improving and even discover wider issues that affect the success of your hotel.
- Fast, reliable web hosting
Great web hosting underpins the success of your website, so it pays to choose your hosting plan wisely. Ideally, you should choose a host that offers 99.9% guaranteed uptime or above so that you can be assured your site is always online.
The speed at which your website loads is also critical. Slow loading and response times not only cause people to abandon websites and booking forms; it can also cause search engines to downrank the site so that fewer people see it in search results. For fast speed and exceptional reliability, consider using a VPS hosting package with lightning-fast SSD storage and Intel Xeon processors.
Websites are vital for hotels, helping them attract potential guests, providing them with essential information and images and making it simple and quick to make bookings or enquiries. Hopefully, the information provided here will show you the key features your website needs to help your hotel be more successful.
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