You could redesign your own hotel website from scratch, but there’s a good chance it would end up looking like, well, scratch. If possible, hire a professional web designer instead. Your website is one of your most important marketing assets, so putting in the investment is worthwhile. Think of it like your lobby online. If your lobby needed a remodel, you wouldn’t start knocking down walls yourself, and the same holds true for your website.
But not all web designers are the same. You need a designer who knows the hotel industry and can deliver the right results. Here are the best ways to find one.
Do Your Research
You don’t need to be an expert yourself, but you do have to evaluate what your web designer tells you. A basic knowledge of website metrics never hurts. If you’ve already identified some of the problems with your current website, even better.
Consider your goals for the redesign; you may want to conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). If you haven’t thought about your goals, you won’t be able to discuss them with your designer and confirm that you’re on the same page.
Though you don’t want to copy your competitors’ websites, it’s worthwhile to browse through them and see what they’re doing. What works for you as a viewer and what doesn’t?
Evaluate the Relationship
Pay attention to how your designer communicates. Do they return your emails, or do you have to chase them down? As a busy hotelier, you don’t have time to chase them down.
Consider how well your designer listens. You may not know a lot about making a website, but you’re an expert on your hotel. Do they understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and does their vision for the project align with yours? If they’re speaking over you, it probably doesn’t.
Look at Experience
Your designer should have a portfolio of completed designs ready for you to peruse…so peruse them. Do you like what you see? Is their own website any good? Even though you’re not a designer yourself, you can still tell what is and isn’t visually appealing—and easy to use!
Not only should your designer have industry experience, they should have experience in your industry—hospitality—as World Web Technologies does (we focus on websites for hotels and tour operators). A hotel web designer will understand what’s important to your business and potential guests, and can make helpful recommendations to improve functionality. Thirty years of SEO experience won’t be much help to you if they’ve never put in a booking engine, though you should still make sure your designer knows their SEO!
Ask About Process
How does the actual design process work? Ask about the steps involved and what’s required from you. No one wants a three-week delay because they didn’t know they needed to approve their theme. Getting expectations straight from the start will reduce frustrations for both you and your designer.
Check how many times you will be able to view the design before it’s completed. If they show it to you semi-regularly, you have a much greater chance of catching any issues and having your ideas implemented.
Make sure your finished site can do more than simply look beautiful. Talk with your designer about functionality as well. How easy is it for viewers to navigate and make a booking, including any who are disabled? What analytics are put in place?
Check for Mobile-friendly Design
Know There Will Be Maintenance
Your website isn’t static. Trends shift, and issues crop up. How does your designer handle this? Do they use a content management system like WordPress that enables you to make simple changes on your own, or do you have to contact them every time? (This can get expensive quickly!)
For technical issues, i.e., WordPress updates and site security, does the design company offer maintenance services as well? Look at it this way, you should be able to fix a typo yourself, but you want an expert to fend off the hackers.
Finding the right designer for your hotel website redesign makes for a smoother, more enjoyable experience and gives your completed website a much better chance of meeting your goals.
World Web Technologies creates professional yet affordable websites that drive bookings for lodging and tour operators of all shapes and sizes. Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.