- Published on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 15:26
Written by Tim Svenson
Article Read: 1993
People always say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but it does happen, including websites.
If your website looks unprofessional and dated, a potential guest will not continue to browse the website further and this can be the worst case scenario for your business. You can kiss your online bookings, revenue, branding and potential guest loyalty goodbye. If your website ticks any of the below items below, it's time to get a new website design.
Outdated or low resolution imagery: How current are the photos on your website? Were they taken by a professional photographer? Are they pixellated or low quality/resolution photos?
Photos, especially if they're used on a rotating banner at the top of the page or if they are the largest feature on the webpage, are what your visitors will notice first. Photos are also used to convey a feeling or emotion and this is what sells your property to a potential customer.
If a potential guest sees photos of a dim, empty lobby and a dark room with old TVs and fixtures or a picture of a beach on a cloudy day, it will not entice them to book with you. It will only make them leave your website immediately and go to a competitor's website.
The difference between professional photos and random photos taken by staff can make a huge difference.
Non-compelling imagery: Your website should have fresh, exciting, professional photos at all times, especially on the homepage. This is where usually 100% of your website visitors will go to first. Don't have two rotating photos of your rooms. I recommend you have up to five rotating pictures on your homepage of your hotel, the rooms, facilities and even the area, such as the beach nearby, hikers enjoying a trek through rainforest or people relaxing and enjoying a picnic.
Choose photos that will best sell your hotel and promote the area and activities in the region.
Content: Does the content on your website instantly spark interest in the travel shopper? Besides the fact that your website content has to be written with keywords and key phrases to help with search engine rankings (SEO), it's also crucial that it sells what the travel shopper wants. For example, if you're a resort on the Sunshine Coast, you should sell the luxuries and facilities of your property – spa bath, room service, pool, tennis courts and close to shopping, restaurants and attractions.
Poor website navigation: Is your website easy for web browsers to find what they want easily and quickly? Once a potential customer is on your website, easy navigation around the site is a must. It's also important that a visitor can return to the homepage easily, no matter where they are on your website.
Make sure that the most important links to your products and services are prominent and easy to find from anywhere, for example the booking page, rooms, facilities etc.
It's also important to have a distinct call to action on the homepage. Make sure it is above the fold and placed prominently to guide a visitor to do what you want them to do – call or book with you immediately.
Thirdly, it's also important not to have too many sub pages on different levels. For example, if a visitor clicks on "location" from the homepage, gets to a second page, clicks on "things to do," gets to a third page and clicks on "adventure," before clicking to yet another "water sports" page, then it's too deep in the navigation. A visitor should never have to go through more than two or three clicks from the homepage to navigate anywhere on your website.
Google Analytics – check your website statistics: Are visitors staying on your website longer and viewing more webpages than they did compared to last year or last month? Is your website ranking higher in the search engines for crucial keywords and phrases?
Check Google Analytics regularly and review how many people visit your website each day or month, how they find your website, what pages they visit most often and how much time they're spending on your website and browsing. These are all key indicators about how well you are engaging customers and how you can improve your site to increase online bookings.
Google Analytics is a great (and free) tool that lets you analyse statistics on pages viewed, time spent on the website, keywords used to find your website, where they are from (country and state) more.
Now that you have read through the five potential issues, how do you feel now? Does your website need a design and/or layout makeover? Your website is your 24/7 sales tool, so it is important that it is up to par to consistently bring new business in. Whether you need new photos or a content overhaul, it's important to get these updated straight away. Little things like getting professional photos go a long way.
A content management system is also a great tool that allows you to make updates to the website without design or technical knowledge, and it's a cost-effective and beneficial option without the need to use a web developer.
Improving your website, whether it is just to update your current photos or content will all help increase the time visitors spend on it, which will in turn, will help to boost the number of calls/bookings to your business.
Adrian Caruso is one of Australia's leading hospitality and tourism marketing and business experts. Adrian has had various interests in the hotel industry and owned one of Queensland's most successful travel agency chains for more than 15 years. He is now the CEO of TA Fastrack and has consulted to and coached over 500 travel, tourism and hospitality businesses over the last nine years.