How to Turn Your Hotel Website Into a Money Making Machine

Is your website just a glossy brochure or a money making machine? The answer will be in your site analytics and one very powerful but simple formula.

Traffic x Conversion = Revenue

Traffic. This is the number of unique visits to your website.

1-10 visits per day are easily achievable with minimal work.

100 visits per day for a small to medium business that is well promoted.

1,000 visits per day for a large company through branding or offering something extraordinary.

Conversion. This is the rate of unique visits that turns into a paying customer

2.35% is the unremarkable rate of 75% of websites

5.31% is achieved by the top 25%

11.45% is the average conversion rate of the top 10%

So what does it take to create a highly efficient website for your hotel? Hint! It’s not a very expensive web designer.

I have been looking at thousands of websites of hotels, guest houses and campsites recently and my conclusion is they all fall into the same formula of online brochure. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ve been in the Hotel Industry for 30 years so I know how hard it is to keep up with technology and the increasing competition and since I became a digital marketer I have learned and tested an incredible amount of knowledge as to how to use online resources to make money.

Based on all my years of experience and results here is my checklist for any Hotel Professional who wants to take their business to the next level by creating a revenue generating website.

· You have 8 seconds to make an impression on potential clients with your website.

· It must download in less than 3 seconds or statistically you have already lost 40% of your visitors.

Part One

The most valuable Real Estate is the first part of your website that is seen by the visitor before they scroll down. This is where you keep or lose your potential client and I strongly recommend you invest your time, money and creativity.

1. Good Visuals. We process an image 60 times faster than the written word. Not all hotels are created equal and many do not have an attractive exterior. An image that creates an emotion such as a smiling face or a comfortable bed can often be more effective to engage your visitor. A recent study by PUSH, using technology that followed the users’ eyes when looking at a website, showed that pictures of the rooms and facilities were looked at most.

2. Contact Details. Do not hide them in the corner or worse, force the visitor to scroll down in search of your details. This is where you should invest in a good web designer. Have your contact details clearly on display and incorporated into the design. This is especially important for the mobile version of your website.

3. Appealing Headline. Good headlines work. They have been the back bone for selling newspapers for centuries. They need to be emotional not factual. For inspiration search through the testimonials of your guests.

4. Clear Easy Menu. Think Apple. For those of you who are used to using Apple products such as the I-phone and then return to an android system, you know exactly what I mean. The menu must be clear logical and run very smoothly. The attention span on the internet is much shorter so if the navigation of your website is not smooth you will lose visitors quickly.

5. Clear Call To Action. A clear call to action is the difference between your website being a glossy brochure and earning you money. There are 2 ways to engage your potential clients.

First is the possibility to Check Availability. I have a personal hatred for Book Now on hotel sites as 9 times out of 10 I’m not ready to book there and then. Check availability is a softer approach which will incline the potential client to give you their details so you can continue marketing to them even if they don’t book straight away. Test the changes in wording on your own site to compare which works best for you.

Second. Permission Marketing is the game changer for the companies earning a lot of money while others are just surviving and so far I have not seen it in use anywhere in the hotel industry. Most of you will have a Sign Up to our Newsletter somewhere on your site but I can guarantee through experience you are not getting large crowds of eager potential clients signing up, if any!

So how are the internet marketers making their millions and they are! You offer something of value to your potential client in exchange for their name and email. An example would be a free report or video. Build up your list of potential clients and then email them regularly. If you had a list of 500 names and 10% booked. That would be 50 extra clients at no extra cost.

What can a hotel offer as a free give away? It depends on what sort of establishment you run. A touristic city center could make up a PDF file of all the best tourist attractions to see in the city. A hideaway hotel in the mountains could offer a detailed list of all the trails with maps. Where the food and beverage side of the business is stronger, the barman could make a video of a cocktail you offer or the chef could create a video of a dish clients could make at home. The possibilities are endless. Depending on how well this is done you, will capture the details of between 5 and 55% of all the visits to your site.

6. Endorsements always instill a sense of trust. An award you have won, magazines you were featured in it all helps. No awards no problem, testimonials from happy customers will do the job.

Part Two

7. Text should be clear and concise. Many studies have been done on this subject and the results are clear. Black or blue lettering on a white background works best as it is much easier to read especially on mobile devices.

8. Video. Where ever you can, add video. As a rule of thumb 2 or 3 video snapshots presenting guest rooms, suites, restaurants etc. lasting no more than 12 – 45 seconds are most effective and can be reused in promoting your establishment through Social Media.

An interview style video if you have a charismatic personality works well presenting who you are. It should be no longer than 3- 5 minutes.

Good use of video can also boost your rating with Google search engines especially if you concentrate on using Search Engine Optimisation Keywords with the video. Webpages containing video are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google.

Professional looking videos can be quickly made using just a smart phone.

9. Blog. I recently reviewed one of my original blogging sites from when I was just starting out. It has a sum total of 6 blog posting and was so bad I abandoned it. However it has been getting well over a thousand unique hits per month. That is the power of blogging. In my experience it is the best form of free advertising for good quality clients I have found.

The other important fact with blogging is it lets Google know that you are still in business.

What should you blog about? Everything and anything that is going on in and around your hotel, town and region. Why do your clients come to stay at your hotel, what do they visit? Write about that.

10. Social Media Connections. These are essential these days but often misused. Firstly what does not work. Using Facebook just for promoting your business and special offers loses your customer’s interest very quickly.

Social Media works best for what it was created for. A platform where friends interact socially and share content (images or information) that interests them.

The best results come from content that generates engagement by comments. To build the relationship with your customer it is essential to reply.

It can be hard work building up Likes on a Facebook Page but if you do not interact with your clients on a regular basis your posts will stop appearing in their newsfeed.

11. Mobile. Most of you are already aware that Google changed their algorithms. The reason they have done so is because 52% of travelers are now using smartphones to research their trip and this will continue to increase year on year. 60% of mobile users want to book that night or the following night.

Another interesting trend that Google has uncovered; of the 30 billion annual mobile searches, more than 1/3 are local. Though for some of us who have been in the hotel industry for many years this is not surprising as we have watched the lead in times to bookings become ever shorter.

Your website must now be suitable for mobile devices. If not Google will penalise your rankings and more importantly your potential clients will go elsewhere.

Your mobile site has to be clear and simple to use.

I have noticed there is no Call Button on most mobile sites. Your clients are on the move, if they have to search for a pen and paper to write your number you’ve lost them.

In conclusion use this check list along with the analytics of your website to either change your website completely or simply add a few extra changes. The internet offer an enormous potential if you understand how it works and use it to your advantage.

Hotel WordPress Themes: Things To Consider Before Choosing One

Do you have a hotel business or accept hotel and resort bookings? Either way, it is important to have an effective online presence. Nowadays, people do not look up hotels using The Yellow Pages, but rather search it online. Therefore, if you want to make your business a success, it is important to use a WordPress theme that will help make your business stand out.

Important Features of a Hotel WordPress Theme:

1. Rates Page

The rate is one of the things that help the guests decide whether or not to book a reservation. So, it is important to have a page dedicated to what your hotel has to offer. The rates page will include the individual rates of each room, promo rates, etc. You can also incorporate rates for other services your hotel has to offer, such as shuttle or limo services, room service (have your menu ready), and more.

2. Photos

In addition to the rates, the overall look of the hotel is what attracts the guest the most. It is difficult for the guests to decide on a hotel they haven’t initially visited, so it is important to have the photos of the rooms, amenities (like gym or pool, if there’s one), cafe/ restaurant, lounge, parking area, and front desk. You may even include snapshots of your staff doing their actual jobs. Make sure the photos are clear and shot in high definition to give your site visitors an almost exact perspective on what to expect when they arrive.

3. Blog

Not all hotel websites have blog, but you must understand that having one has its advantage. Unlike the static information you offer on your site, a blog adds a personal touch to your hotel’s web page. Additionally, updating your blog in regular intervals can help your website gain traffic. Search engines love regular content updates and doing this will help your website top the search engine results. Fortunately, most WordPress themes have a built-in blog, which you can easily update regularly.

Hotel Heuristics – Factors Affecting Booking Choices

When people start choosing between hotels to decide where they will stay for the night, they do not just think about a single factor. There are many factors that go into deciding on a hotel to book in. In the next several paragraphs, we will explore the numerous facets of a hotel and the importance they have for people who are weighing their options.

With the hubbub of post-recession economics, one main factor that stands out is price. With the way the industry has reacted to the recession and the trends even after the industry’s recovery, prices right now remain relatively low compared to the rates prior to the recession. Still, there’s a big difference between hotels of different types and of different levels of luxury, accommodation quality, and service.

Many people have to deal with the trade-offs of getting a room at a lower rate but sacrificing some things in terms of quality, luxury, and bundled amenities. Of course, there are always other ways to save. There are many promotional rates ripe for the picking, and there are also a lot of hotel room packages that already include such bonuses as meals and use of the hotel’s premier facilities.

Another main factor is, of course, the quality of the accommodations. Many people can justify paying top-dollar for their rooms as long as it comes with the necessary furnishings proportionate to the rates. Others can bear with basic accommodation as long as they get bigger savings on their hotel rate.

Luxury comes with a price. Naturally, the more luxurious the facilities and the hotel, the harder it will be on the paycheck. It is all interrelated. Of course, some people are after this particular trait-luxury-as it is what sets apart the hotel experience compared to just moving away to some other rest house or renting the night away at a motel.

One more factor that is important to many people is service and the quality thereof. Many people research on other guests’ past experiences to see if the hotel can fill their needs or if there were others who have had bad experiences with a particular establishment. This is why hotel blogs and review sites are popular in the Internet.

Convenience also plays a big part in deciding on where to book. Is the hotel accessible? Can primary attractions be reached right away from the place? Does the hotel have all the necessary facilities for one’s needs? All of these things are essential to the convenience of the guest.

There are also other factors that come into play when deciding on a hotel to stay in. More likely, personal preferences will also need to be considered, as with the other aspects mentioned above. Clearly, as with many other aspects of life, choosing a hotel is all about priorities. When push comes to shove, which factors weigh more than the others ultimately depends on the guest. For some, budget is not an issue; for others, the decision becomes a lot more complicated with compromises and priorities.

Hotels and Online Marketing

Without a sliver of a doubt, online marketing has spawned its own set of rules and principles. The dynamic online audience has become essential for marketing because of the sheer number of people who spends hours upon hours in front of their computers browsing away at their favorite sites. Perhaps that’s a big reason why even hotels are turning to the World Wide Web to sell their stuff and build relationships with clients.

The online world serves as an important platform where hotels can establish their presence, making life more convenient for possible guests because they can see all sorts of vital information even before they make their reservations. This all starts from the hotel’s own web site, of course. Still, there are many other sources such as hotel blogs and reservation sites that feature press releases and even user-generated content.

Pictures, the kind of accommodations, research on sights to see, and even feedback on the hotels themselves are just some types of information that the vacationer or traveling businessman can find online. Want to know what you can find in this or that hotel? One quick search through search engine Google nets a few pages’ worth of information already.

With the dawn of search engine optimization and search engine marketing, increasing the visibility of a particular web site has become a tad more serious business. Businesses, including hotels, are paying more attention to calling attention.

Another platform that has been transforming the online marketing landscape is the widely-popular social networking site Facebook. With tens of millions of users logging on to Facebook everyday, it has become an important tool for marketers, as well. Just imagine having a presence there and being able to maintain client relationships while having good chances of generating new clientele because of the word-of-mouth nature of the platform.

Viral marketing is also a big hit online. While it can also be quite effective in real-world marketing, the variety of online platforms-blogs, social networking web sites, e-mail, etc. offer a much more dynamic execution for the viral campaign. An example of this is the Fairfield Inn viral video, which has been well-received by critics.

Online, it is also much easier to update people on the changes to hotels. For example, hotel rebranding can be immediately shown and explained on web sites, then blogs and showcase sites will be featuring that rebranding as well. Promotional campaigns and specialized one-off offerings can also be directly presented to customers online.

Additionally, clients can enjoy convenience as well, since they can access various information about the hotels they are looking into-all at the comfort of their own homes or work stations. All it takes are a few clicks.

Overall, online marketing is definitely an indispensable tool for hotels seeking to maintain customer relations and establish new relationships with potential clients. As more and more people of all ages and from all walks of life get on the World Wide Web, it becomes increasingly important for such businesses as hotels and other members of the hospitality industry to establish a good online presence.