Get Creative with Your Web Presence
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Roomers Magazine
The Internet is the most important marketing platform for your hotel. It’s where the vast majority of travelers go to plan and book their trips. But perhaps more importantly, it’s the place that travelers go to in search of inspiration for their travel plans—to find that spark of excitement that makes them say “I want to go there”.
In a world where cheap, convenient accommodation is always just a click away, it’s time for hoteliers to get creative. You shouldn’t just be selling accommodations—you should be selling an experience. And this experience shouldn’t just begin when a guest walks through the front door. It should start during that all-important inspiration phase, when your window to potential guests is almost always through a phone, tablet or computer screen.
For thousands of potential guests, your website is the face of your hotel. And, considering that most web users have an attention span less than that of a goldfish (seriously), it’s important to make an impactful first impression upon them with the design of your site.
Your hotel’s website should not only reflect the look, feel and unique ‘personality’ of your property, but it should also have some distinctive features that make guests want to spend their time on it. Avoid website templates. If you can afford it, choose a digital agency that will take the time to research your competitors, identify your target markets and design a site that isn’t just functional and easy to navigate, but also inspires the kind of guests that you’re looking to attract.
Local Area Guides
When is the last time you saw anyone buying a travel guidebook? These days, all it takes is a Google search on your mobile device to tap into a wealth of information about any destination on the planet. But because there is such an overwhelming amount of information available, finding, something concise and relevant to your specific location and tastes can sometimes be a challenge.
Invite guests to plan their itinerary right on your hotel website by providing a detailed “local area guide” section designed specifically for guests of your hotel. Profile nearby local attractions and provide distances from your hotel and transportation options. Highlight “hidden gems” and recommendations from your staff. This not only functions a value-add service for guests but also helps them see your hotel as an essential part of their experience of the destination.
Building a blog into your hotel website and publishing original blogs posts on a regular basis can help to draw traffic from, and increase your ranking on, search engines (talk to your digital agency about this if it’s not already part of your SEO strategy). But, like a local area guide, regular blog posts can also help to engage website visitors and provide an added service to guests.
Blog posts should focus on upcoming, date-specific events in proximity to your hotel—things like festivals, expos, restaurant openings, and art exhibits. Be sure to include somewhere in your post a call-to-action for guests to book at your hotel, with some reasons why they might want to.
Social media is a never-ending torrent of images and information. How can you expect your hotel to stand out and make a meaningful impression amid all this noise? Your most powerful tool for making an impact on social media isn’t promotions or perks, but stories. Social media loves a good story. And, thankfully, your hotel is full of them. You just have to look.
Using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share the stories of your guests is a powerful way of inviting users to envision their own potential experiences at your property. One way of doing this is to encourage or incentivize guests to share images and video of their trip with you, and then share them on your social media accounts. You might always want to profile the stories of your employees and the amazing things they do for your guests. Narratives like this capture people’s attention and humanize your hotel.
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