The benefits of launching a website for your hotel’s restaurant
I recently spoke to a group of hoteliers at a digital marketing event in London and shared a number of best practices for driving more direct bookings through one’s vanity website. Following my presentation, the other speakers and I participated in an hour-long roundtable discussion, spending 15 minutes at each table of hoteliers. This was a great opportunity to dive into more strategic and tactical discussions and to hear some of the challenges and successes of individual hoteliers. I found these discussions enlightening, especially when it came to the continued struggle hoteliers face with their “frenemies,” the OTAs.
OTAs have long been a pain point for hoteliers – and especially independents – as they often rely on them for a large portion of their bookings – particularly in Europe. According to Phocuswright, approximately three-quarters (75%) of online hotel bookings for independent hotels in Europe are made through an OTA or other intermediary.
75% is a big number, and that’s why it was no surprise that my main takeaway from the event was the defeatist attitude I felt from the attendees toward the OTAs. This was driven home by questions like, “what’s the point in having a brand if the OTAs are going to get all the bookings? and “are the OTAs here to stay?”
How to take bookings back from the OTAs
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to get those 75% of bookings from OTAs to your own direct channels, and no, the OTA’s aren’t going anywhere. However, there are strategies and tactics hoteliers can employ to start shifting the ratio of direct vs. third party bookings back into your favor.
OTAs and third-party travel websites focus the majority of their efforts on marketing and selling hotel rooms. They aren’t focused on selling the ancillary services – restaurants, spa services, meeting facilities or other unique experiences and amenities that many hotels offer on-site. This is where your opportunity lies. Competing with the OTAs is all about finding (and marketing) the extra advantages your hotel offers to guests and cross-promoting them online along with your hotel. Ask yourself this: “What do we offer that we can use as a hook to attract more guests?
Start with your hotel’s restaurant
In a study Leonardo conducted to better understand the images travel shoppers viewed most, we found that Guest Rooms were by far the most viewed. Makes sense, right? But interestingly, the second most viewed was restaurant photos. Travelers have two primary needs when away from home:
- They need a place to sleep
- They need a place to eat
Which leads me to one of the suggestions I offered during my roundtable discussions – leverage the restaurant many European hotels have on-site. In many cases, a hotel’s restaurant is a good driver of revenue and also plays a central role in the hotel’s story and identity. But it is often underutilized when it comes to marketing the hotel.
Think about your favorite restaurants. It’s safe to assume that most of them have their own website. Just because your restaurant is physically located in your hotel doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant its own website. Of course, it should be featured on your hotel website, but in order to maximize revenue, a dedicated restaurant website could also be warranted.
Once you have a high performing hotel website that is designed to generate direct bookings, your next step is to launch a dedicated website specifically for your restaurant, with large, high-resolution videos and photos that showcase the atmosphere and signature dishes. This way, your on-site restaurant can be the hook that drives hotel guests to book your hotel over another, and more importantly, book your hotel directly vs. through a third party.
One of my favorite examples of hotels with restaurants are The Hoxton Hotels in London. They’ve effectively mastered cross-promoting their hotels and their on-site restaurants. While each of their properties has an impressive, conversion-driven website, they also have a link to a dedicated website for their related on-site restaurant.
How the Bay Club Hotel is marketing their restaurant
We’re pleased to see a number of our own Vizlly customers following in Hoxton’s footsteps and launching dedicated websites for their restaurants. The best ones are cross-referencing both lines of business (hotel & restaurant) by linking from one site to the other, in turn maximizing traffic and increasing conversions.
The Bay Club Hotel and Marina is a great example. Located on San Diego’s beautiful Shelter Island, The Bay Club Hotel and Marina offers guestrooms with breathtaking views of the San Diego Bay, downtown skyline, Point Loma, and the private on-site marina.
It launched a dedicated website for its award-winning restaurant, the Quarterdeck Restaurant & Bar. While this restaurant already had a dedicated page on the hotel’s website, they recognized the benefits of launching a standalone website too.
The Quarterdeck’s website provides menus, prices, photos, opening hours, specials, location details and more – all optimized for mobile. It also acts as a gateway to the Bay Club Hotel’s website via a “Check Rates” button in the top right corner, which links to bayclubhotel.com. A multi-website marketing strategy like this is an excellent way to boost your search engine rankings, generate more traffic to the hotel’s website and maximize your revenue.
Search engine boosting benefits of a multi-website strategy
We reached out to our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Expert, Marco Braggio, for his take on the SEO benefits of launching a standalone website for your hotel’s restaurant. Here’s what he told us:
“Many SEO strategists may advise against a multi-website approach (generally because of cost and effort). But, when you have two distinctive businesses under the same ‘roof’, like a hotel and a restaurant, especially if one service is primarily dependent on local traffic (restaurant) and the other on visitors (hotel guests), it can be beneficial.
Here’s why: Your hotel and your restaurant offer two distinct customer experiences and services. Today’s consumers (and search engines) demand relevant website experiences and distinctive content. One of the best ways to provide those things is with dedicated websites for your hotel and restaurant.
By doing so, you increase your web presence and have the ability to cross-promote by referring traffic from your hotel website to your restaurant website and vice versa. You can spotlight the hotel and restaurant independently when needed, increase flexibility with marketing initiatives, have a cleaner backlink profile, and ultimately appear more relevant for geography-specific keywords.”
In a nutshell, having a separate hotel website and restaurant website, and cross-linking between them, is a smart move that benefits your search engine rankings and organic web traffic. And more website visitors generally means more conversions.
It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive
By creating separate websites for your different lines of business, you’ll be able to drive much more traffic to your property, whether that be to dine in your restaurant, visit your spa, attend an event, or for other ancillary services offered by your hotel. This all means more revenue in your pocket.
Creating a new restaurant website doesn’t require an agency or have to be expensive. Technology is enabling hotels of all sizes (branded or not) to create powerful websites that drive more direct bookings and take market share back from the OTAs. You can do it yourself all from within the Vizlly platform for one low monthly fee.
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