A modern, easy-to-use website that shows who you are as a brand and what guests can expect when they stay is crucial to the success of your hotel. Essentially your front desk online, your website needs to make a good first impression and give guests the information they need. A half-finished homepage with thumbnail images and buttons that look like they’re from the 90s won’t do you any favors.
Because technology doesn’t stand still, neither can you. Most companies redesign their websites every few years, but how do you know when it’s time for a revamp?
You should redesign your website when it no longer represents your brand or accomplishes your goals, which means you need to decide what your goals are, both for your website and your property as a whole. The more time you spend thinking about this, the more effective your new site will be. Here are things to consider before you call your designer.
Is your current website doing what you need? Are you snagging those direct bookings? If you are, you may not need that revamp just yet. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Look at where and how guests book. Does most of your business come from OTAs (which charge those hefty commission fees) or phone calls (which really suck up your time)? If either is the case, it’s a sign you should do that revamp after all.
If you don’t have an online booking engine, you need to get one. It’s reliable, convenient, and guests expect it.
You can find out where your bookings come from by checking your property management system. Your property management system (PMS) is the electronic command center for your hotel. Think of it like the bridge on Star Trek. WebRezPro PMS allows you to create market codes that can automatically track where bookings originate, for example, from your website, your Facebook page, or through an OTA. You can then generate reports to see which sources your revenue derives from.
Analyze your current website’s performance using metrics like number of visitors, traffic sources, and time on site. You can find these metrics using tools like Google Analytics. Make sure that you use the same metrics both before and after your redesign, so you have an accurate picture of how well changes worked.
Is your website up-to-date and easy to use? Your pictures shouldn’t be from ten years ago. Neither should your site speed. If your site is too slow, it will negatively impact your SEO and potential guests won’t even find it. And even if they do find it, they may not wait around to see it—bounce rates nearly double between two and three seconds of load time.
It’s important that your site is mobile friendly as well. Forty-one percent of travel research occurs on mobile as of 2019. The best mobile-friendly sites have been designed for mobile from the ground up. If you begin with the desktop version in mind, those tempting fancy features may be too complicated to translate well to mobile. Mobile-friendly websites also adjust automatically for whichever device they’re opened on.
If your site is clunky on mobile or takes too long to load, you should go ahead with that redesign.
You need to have a clear brand vision for your website no matter the reason for your redesign. Know who you are as a company, who stays with you, and what makes you unique. What can guests have at your hotel that they can’t have anywhere else? Check over your guest data and take time to think about this one.
Your branding includes all content both on your website and off, and it needs to be consistent across your channels. If your website doesn’t reflect your branding, people will wonder if they’re in the right place or if your site is legitimate. They’ll either call the front desk to check (unlikely) or you’ll lose the booking, either to an OTA or to a competitor.
No matter your branding message, your website content should be clear, concise, and typo-free. Your photographs should be professionally taken. If either looks amateurish, you will lose credibility.
Are you rebranding or renovating your hotel? If so, it’s time to change your website so that it matches your new look. If your colors are now blue and green, the old blue and tan palette will have to change.
For branding to be effective, you need to consider your target audience. Who are your guests and what appeals to them? Your property management system can help you find out. Use your guest database and reporting features to identify reservation trends (e.g. most popular rates, booking sources, LOS, etc.) that give you insight into who your guests are and why they stay with you.
You may have multiple target audiences or guest segments. Maybe your resort is popular with honeymooners and for high-end corporate retreats. In this case, you’ll have to include clearly labeled, easy-to-find content for each group. Consider amenities that may appeal to both. For instance, the honeymooners may want a couples massage, but plenty of businesspeople would also like a massage after a long day of meetings.
Choosing SEO keywords appropriate for your audience and avoiding jargon are important during a redesign, but they aren’t the only things you need to plan out when it comes to content. It matters how you structure your site and what pages you include. A well-organized, easy-to-navigate website is key to providing a good user experience that keeps visitors on your site for longer and positively influences SEO. An FAQ page and blog go a long way towards boosting your SEO and establishing you as an industry expert.
You also want to keep your inbound links as intact as possible. If other people or sites link to your page, it’s not a great idea to dismantle it, both because it will damage your SEO and because the page still offers value. If the page does need to go, use a 301 redirect to the new page so that users referred from those other sites will still be able to access relevant information.
Ensure that your website is protected, especially your booking engine where users enter their credit card information. Use a secure HTTPS connection, SSL encryption, and a PCI-compliant payment gateway integration to protect your guests’ data. Identity theft isn’t the surprise guests are looking for at your hotel. (Go for chocolates on the pillow instead.)
You need a website that represents your brand in the best way possible, drives bookings, and is consistent with your other online presence and with what guests can expect when they arrive. When your website doesn’t perform these functions, it’s time for a carefully planned re-design. Don’t skimp on the planning! If you do, you may still end up with a site that isn’t up to par. This is true even if you hire a web designer. They can’t meet your goals if they don’t know what those goals are.
For a free, no-obligation web design quote, contact our team at World Web Technologies. You’re also welcome to poke around our blog and review samples of what we’ve accomplished for our other clients.