Improve These 7 Things for a Better Hotel Website
Could you be missing out on potential guests because of a problem with your website?
That's a scary thought.
The good news is, you can see improvements in your bottom line just by tweaking a few things here and there.
Here are 7 things you can improve right away for a better hotel website.
1. Lead with a Great Headline
One of the world's advertising legends, David Ogilvy, said this about headlines:
"On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy."
"It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money."
It's true. People want to know that reading your website (and learning more about your hotel) will be worth their time.
A great website features a big headline that will convince them to keep reading your website.
If they're not sold from the start, they won't want to waste their precious time reading through your website.
Great headlines sound like:
"Discover why [Your Hotel] is Georgia's #1 Hotel for Families."
If I had kids, this would pique my interest and make me keep reading.
"Experience True Romance in the Heart of Italy"
Headlines like this one paint an exciting picture of what your guests could experience while staying with you.
The key to writing a great headline is understanding what your guests want more than anything else.
What are they looking forward to when they stay with you?
Is it an adventure? Relaxation? Family-friendly fun?
Now use the headline to show them why you can deliver on that promise.
Make the text big and bold, so it's the thing they'll see first on the page.
2. Immerse Your Guests in the Experience
Have you ever picked up a travel book that didn't have any pictures?
The most exciting part of travel is seeing new places.
And when you can imagine yourself going to a new place, it makes you want to go there so much more.
That's why it's important that your website visitors can "see" your hotel when they visit your website.
Plaster your website with high-quality images that show off the lobby, the rooms, the smiling staff waiting to greet the guest, food and drinks, and popular sights and landmarks in your city.
Let your guests get a taste of what it's like to stay with you, and they won't be able to get you out of their head.
3. Write to Just One Person
Here's a common mistake hotels make on their websites:
They write in an indirect way, like:
"Guests are treated to full-body massages when choosing our Signature Plan."
But when I read this, I wonder who they're writing for.
It can't be me, because I'm not "guests." I'm just one person.
I want to feel like the website is written just for me. That makes me feel special and makes me want to stay at the hotel.
And think about it.
You wouldn't greet a guest at the front desk in an impersonal way. In fact, every part of the hotel stay is supposed to feel special, right?
So let your visitors feel special by writing your website in a personal way, addressing them directly.
That means using the word "you" (a LOT) and write as if you're having a conversation with them.
Let's rewrite that sentence about the massages.
It could be:
"Choose the Signature Plan and enjoy a complimentary full-body massage."
"Enjoy a full-body massage with the Signature Plan."
Now you're talking directly to your visitor.
Finally, instead of talking about what your hotel offers, make sure to frame it in a way that shows your visitor what they'll get out of the deal.
Instead of talking about your "great service" or "luxurious facilities," tell them how they can "relax on the terrace" or "get refreshed at the spa."
Then you'll be speaking their language.
4. Address Your Guests' Most Burning Questions
The reason why people visit your website is because they have questions.
"Is the hotel comfortable?"
"Is it safe?"
"Would I like staying there?"
"What fun things can I do?"
"How much does a room cost?"
"Do they have good food?"
What are they not thinking about?
The history of the hotel, the owners, or any number of other things that might be featured on your website.
(Though that's nice information to have, and a few people may read it.)
If you really want your website to be effective, make sure it answers the biggest questions your visitors have about staying at your hotel.
If it does, it'll put their mind at ease and make it much easier for them to decide to book.
(On the other hand, if they don't get all the answers, they will likely feel uneasy and will avoid making a decision right away.)
How to do this?
First, grab a pen and pad of paper and write down all the questions a potential traveller might have. (Use your imagination!)
Next, choose the top 5 to 10 questions that you'd like to include on your website.
Prioritize the most burning questions your guests have, and things they can't find anywhere else on the web.
Finally, go down the list and decide how you can answer the question on your website.
"Is the hotel comfortable?" "Is it safe?" → Include lots of photos of the interior and rooms.
"Would I like staying there?" → Use your website to show your personality, and guests will decide if it fits them or not.
"What fun things can I do?" → Add a page that explains the activities and facilities you offer.
"How much does a room cost?" → Add a page with detailed room information, complete with prices and photos.
"Do they have good food?" → Add a page to show off the gourmet meals served at the hotel. Include restaurant info and sample menus.
And so on... Give it a try!
5. Make Menus Simple
Have you ever heard of "decision paralysis?"
It's that feeling of having so many choices you can't make a decision.
If your website is too complicated, you'll paralyze your visitors, too.
Though you want to give them lots of information about the hotel, too much can become overwhelming.
Instead, use the list of questions you made in #4 and prioritize the top 3 or 4 pieces of information they really want to know.
Then, limit your main navigation menu to just those 3 or 4 items.
(Why 3 or 4? Because humans can only focus on up to 4 things at a time, according to science.)
With a simple menu, visitors to your site won't feel overwhelmed.
They'll get their answers quickly and head straight to the booking button.
It's a win-win.
6. Emphasize the Booking Button
After simplifying your navigation menu to the most crucial items, top it off with a booking button.
The booking button should stand out most in your menu, because it's the most important button on your site.
And once they've flipped through your site and decided to book, they'll know exactly where to go.
(It's also a good idea to have the navigation menu stick to the top of the screen when your reader scrolls down the page. Then it'll always be in sight.)
If you think your booking button is visible already, try this test: ask someone who's never seen your site to visit it for the first time.
Tell them to scan the page for a minute and close it, then ask where the booking button was.
If they can't tell you, it's probably not visible enough.
7. Get Rid of the Non-Essential
This last tip isn't something to add to your website. It's something to take away.
Anything that doesn't answer any of your guests' questions should be taken off the site.
(Or at least confined to a separate page and taken off the main navigation menu.)
Why? Because you don't want to confuse guests about what they should click on.
And you also don't want to bore them.
Instead, you want them to learn just what they want to know and go straight to the booking button.
Anything more will lead them off the path (and even drive them away from your site).
So if you have a long paragraph about the history of your hotel (unless it's really famous), it's best to get rid of it or put it on a separate page.
If you really want to include something on a separate page, you could put the extra links on the footer of your website.
(A lot of websites do this for less-important information.)
People who are looking for more will find it, but regular visitors won't be overwhelmed by too much information.
Now it's your turn
Which of these tips would make the most impact on your website?