With the rise of social media, online review sites and price comparison sites, it’s easy to think the role of an official website for a hotel has been somewhat diminished. After all, customers can readily access up to date information about a hotel from a Facebook page, they can see whether the hotel is any good or not from TripAdvisor reviews, and they can make a booking through Trivago. However, having a strong and well-designed official website still makes the biggest difference to any independent hotel’s online R.O.I., as we explain why:
Customers always seek out a website, and first impressions count.
It doesn’t matter whether a hotel has thousands of glowing 5/5 reviews or a special sale, new customers will almost always seek out the official website of a hotel they’re interested in, to try and verify its legitimacy before making a booking.
Your website is essentially your virtual shopfront. When a hotel doesn’t have an official website, or the website it does have isn’t up to scratch, it triggers a red flag and doubts over the quality of service they may receive at the hotel. For independent hotels that aren’t part of a recognisable chain (e.g. Hilton or Premier Inn), it’s vital to present your hotel in the best possible light to alleviate any concerns guests will receive a subpar service.
You have completely control over how you present your hotel.
Third-party websites follow strict layouts and forms, meaning you’re often restricted by what you can say and how you present your hotel to any potential guests. When it comes to your own website, the sky’s the limit. You can design a website that perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of your hotel and highlights what makes your hotel great through interactive graphics and video.
One of our most recent hotel websites was for The Olde Bell, in Hurley, Berkshire, who approached us wanting a website that emphasised the countryside feel of their inn-like hotel and wedding venue. They wanted a charming site that was easy to navigate, and felt like an extension of the village aesthetic of the hotel.
We built the site with their ideal customers in mind – people looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, to somewhere with rural character. The homepage features an interactive video, emphasising the various features of the hotel and venue, and individual pages are clean with tidily laid out information and clear call-to-actions to book a room on every page. The website feels like a natural extension of the guest experience at the hotel, in a way that no third-party website or social channel could.
It is essential for Google.
Google has taken a firm stance against spammy affiliate websites and almost always prefers to lead its users to the official websites of hotels users search for. That is why Facebook or TripAdvisor pages seldom rank higher on a Google versus an official website. But if you don’t have a website that follows best practices, Google will favour affiliates over you, and that means you don’t have much control over potential guests’ first impressions.
One big change to modern web design is the introduction of rich snippets, which are bits of code placed on your website to help Google and other platforms better understand the content of your website. These snippets are how Google can highlight information about your hotel and its features in its search results, including room prices. Google is looking for these snippets on your website, and if you don’t have them, it means missed opportunities.
Finally, having your own website means you can build dedicated landing pages about specific services or events you can accommodate for at your hotel. These pages then index within Google and improve your online presence, as Google tries to serve its users the most relevant pages.
A combination of rich snippets and landing pages means The Olde Bell controls the images and information presented to Google users, including hotel details, amenities information and room prices.
Having your own booking system leads to better margins.
Having your own booking system means you can convert website visitors into guests without needing to lead them away to third-party booking systems and paying referral fees or commission. This can make a substantial difference to any hotel’s bottom line, and justify the initial expense of building a new website.
The Park Hotel Teddington’s official website features a comprehensive booking system that offers customers the ability to full customise their stay at the hotel, at the lowest prices, making it the top way customers book their stay.
If you’re interested in building a new website for your hotel, get in touch here. Oneclick Media Services recently completed work on The Olde Bell and The Park Hotel Teddington, both independent hotels that have seen tremendous results through our tailored approach to web design.