March 24, 2015
As we move into the travel shoulder season, most lodgings experience a drop in occupancy. While there's not much anyone can do to change seasonal travel trends, optimizing your website is an effective way to increase room sales throughout the year. Even the slightest increase in yearly occupancy can greatly improve your bottom line.
Step 1: Get Found
When it comes to search engine ranking, content is king. Google's ever-changing algorithms always reward
websites with fresh, relevant content. By content, we don't just mean pages of well-crafted text; content
encompasses telling your story through a variety of media, including compelling images, video and blog posts.
With almost 70 percent of leisure travelers and 80 percent of business travelers turning to their smartphones to
research travel, it's also very important to optimize your site for mobile devices. Here are some guidelines for
getting your website found:
Responsive Web design. Responsive design not only provides an optimal user experience whether your
site is being viewed on a desktop, smartphone or tablet, but Google likes responsive sites too, ranking
them higher in mobile searches. Now, Google is even tagging websites as mobile-friendly in mobile search
results to help users find better Web experiences.
Good content. Content drives search. It's simple really; your audience wants useful, engaging content, so
search engines look for sites that provide that - content that is relevant and fresh (frequently updated)
and focuses on the needs and wants of your customers.
Social media. Google likes popular sites, so if your audience is engaging with your social media posts
through likes, shares, retweets and comments, etc., there's a good chance your ranking will rise. Your
website and social media pages should work hand in hand; make sure you link social media posts back to
your website whenever possible, and consider embedding your social media feeds directly into your
Blog. A blog is a great way to add fresh content to your website (remember, search engines love fresh
content). Not to mention, frequent blogging allows you to show off your property's charming personality
and your local expertise.
SEO. (Search Engine Optimization.) Keeping up to date with good SEO practices and frequently auditing
your website with SEO in mind is key to getting found.
Step 2: Convince Your Customers
Getting found is half the battle, but your website really needs to shine for your audience to stick around. Like
getting found, convincing your customers hinges on great content. It also depends on attractive design and ease of
use. Here's what your site should have to hook your customers in:
Good design. The animated GIFS and garish colors of the early-Internet era are a major turn-off. These
days, travelers expect modern, professional design that portrays the character of the property. Current design trends emphasise storytelling through big, beautiful imagery that inspires an emotional connection
with the audience, and simplicity that promotes intuitive navigation — your visitors shouldn't have to
hunt information down.
Fresh & complete content. Your website should be a one-stop-shop for up-to-date information about
your property, so take the time to add upcoming and current promotions, update photos and videos, and
do a little blogging. And, as touched on above, make sure your content is well-organized and easy to find;
key information like rooms and rates, amenities, location, promotions, and image and video galleries
should never be more than a single click away.
Personality. To really engage your audience, strive to convey the experience of staying at your property,
through visual design, photos, videos, and text. Highlight your property's strengths and what sets it apart.
Optimized user experience. Sites that are slow to load and difficult to navigate turn users off even faster
than animated GIFs and garish colors. Your site needs to load fast, look good and offer intuitive navigation
whether it's accessed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. This is where responsive design,
again, is a must.
Interactive map. Location is usually an important factor for travelers choosing where to stay. Make it easy
for customers to locate your property by embedding a Google map on your website. Google maps can
showcase your location by also pinpointing nearby attractions and restaurants, and offer the ability to
zoom in and out.
Clear calls-to-action. Provide clear calls-to-action on all pages of your website. Your property's phone
number, email address, email sign-up button and social media buttons can be consistently displayed
within the site header or footer. Your online booking engine should also be featured consistently and
prominently throughout your site.
Customer testimonials. Approximately 80 percent of travelers worldwide consider reviews important
when making hotel booking decisions. Therefore, including guest reviews on your website is a great way
to build credibility and prevent prospective customers from leaving your site in search of testimonials.
Reviews can be added to your site manually or via a TripAdvisor widget.
Step 3: Close the Sale
Your website is ranking well in search engine results and visitors are sticking around! That's fantastic, but you still
haven't sealed the deal. The customer likes what they see and is ready to book, but they don't quite make it
through the booking process... Why? According to a SaleCycle survey, a combined 22 percent of travel bookers
abandon bookings due to complicated booking processes or technical issues. Here's what your website needs to
Seamless online bookings. To convert lookers into bookers, you need the right online booking engine. The
booking widget should be easy to find, prominently displayed in the same place on every page of your
site. Online bookings should offer users a simple and logical flow (in as few clicks as possible), presenting
all necessary information up front (room descriptions, rates, availability, promotional packages). User-
friendliness is extremely important - on any device - so, needless to say, your online booking engine
must be mobile friendly. It should also feature your branding and, ideally, the look and feel of your
website, to gain the user's trust.
Dedicated landing pages. For any special campaign that you promote via social media or pay-per-click
advertising, link to a dedicated landing page on your website that provides the relevant information.
Sending customers to your homepage where they have to hunt the information down will likely result in a
high bounce rate, and you don't want that.
Once all the key elements are in play, it's important to keep an eye on things. Central to your digital marketing
strategy, your website has the power to be your business' most effective sales platform, so it's really worth the
effort. Rather than set and forget, regularly check your site for broken links and outdated content. And use Google
Analytics to track website visitors (demographics, where they are coming from, page views, time on site, where
they exit your site, etc.) to pinpoint areas for improvement.
If this all sounds a bit much, we can help!