“Building a hotel website is easy,” said no one, ever. However, if you get it right, you’ll end up with an online presence that will prove to everyone why your independent accommodation business is worth choosing over the dour, faceless alternatives from the big chains.
With that in mind, we thought we’d list the five most important elements of a brilliant hotel website. Some could be considered obvious, while others may just take you by surprise…
1. An approachable online booking system
If there’s one element of a hotel website’s design that needs special attention, it’s the integration of an approachable online booking system and effective placement of the button that links to it.
Your “Book Now” button should feature prominently on every page and link through to an online hotel booking system that anyone can use – instantly. Hide the “Book Now” button (it happens – honestly), or pick a system that is confusing and cumbersome, and you simply won’t get the direct online bookings you deserve.
2. Beautiful (original) photography
What’s worse than a poor online booking system? Stock imagery. Avoid it at all costs.
Working in the hotel industry affords you a privilege few other businesses have access to, which is the ability to take beautiful photos of your operation for marketing purposes.
Don’t pass up on this opportunity, and don’t be tempted to snap away with your smartphone – you simply won’t paint the picture your property deserves.
3. An engaging story
Business websites serve a purpose that is often overlooked; they should tell an engaging, page-turning story about the business itself.
Once again, if you’re a hotelier, you’re lucky enough to operate in a fascinating sector and the tale behind your property is one that you should absolutely tell on your website.
Start at the beginning and take website visitors on a journey from the initial concept to where you are today. Don’t be afraid to detail the trials and tribulations of running a hospitality business, or the times you’ve questioned your reasons for doing so; such stories will keep visitors hooked and start that all important process of engendering an emotional connection with potential guests.
4. The human element
It’s time to shine the spotlight on your team (no matter how much they may recoil at the idea of being featured on the website).
The humble ‘about us’ page has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Once the place where just a few explanatory paragraphs about the business would reside, it’s now usually home to detailed profiles of individual team members.
This website trend has gained popularity because it adds a human element to the business. Customers often want to see the faces behind the operation, and if you’re prepared to have a bit of fun by including either head shots or caricatures of the hotel staff along with irreverent, tongue-in-cheek takes on their likes and dislikes, you’ll quickly win the affections of web visitors.
5. Clean, simple, jargon-free navigation
If you’ve ever landed on a hotel website only to find yourself hunting furiously for details about the rooms, you’ll know how frustrating it can be when you eventually discover the word ‘Sleep’, that has been used in an attempt to add contemporary flair to the web design.
In theory, using such language is entirely well-meaning, but in practice it only hinders visitors to the website as they try to make their way around. This is why it pays to swallow your pride and opt for simple navigation that doesn’t rely on fancy words. Swap ‘Sleep’ for ‘Our Rooms’, and you get the idea!
That’s it! Now, book yourself a brilliant web designer and tell the world how fantastic your lovingly-crafted hotel business is!