The online travel shopping journey has grown in complexity – travelers now have more options than ever before and visit anywhere between 10 to 30 different sites before booking, from OTAs and Meta Search sites, to corporate booking tools, social media sites and your own hotel website.
Reaching and engaging travelers across all these channels is difficult especially as consumer attention spans have become shorter than ever (you have approximately five seconds to capture the attention of a visitor to your website before they leave). We know that ultimately, hotels want to drive direct bookings via your hotel website, the most profitable channel you have to garner revenue.
Because of this, it’s more critical than ever that your hotel website attracts, engages and converts shoppers into bookers. To do this, you need to be able to effectively communicate your hotel’s story with engaging content and compelling visuals.
An effective hotel website drives direct bookings. In fact, we’re now seeing most leisure travelers make their final decision on whether to book by visiting the hotel’s website.
Successful hotel marketers understand that in order to create an effective hotel website, you first need to make sure you’re utilizing a web publishing system that makes it easy for you to update your website and provide the content travelers are looking for, fast – speed is critical for an effective web presence.
- Find a solution that easily allows you to store a variety of media in a centralized location.The right web publishing tool for your organization depends on your needs, the type of content you plan to publish and how much content you want to produce. Ideally, find a system that allows you to store an unlimited amount of media so that you are not restricted by media limitations when you want to update your website regularly. Essentially, your web publishing system acts as a central content management system – so make sure you can upload rich, dynamic content such as videos and virtual tours that help tell your hotel’s story.
- Managing all of your content can be tricky. Consider a solution that lets you organize your media into groups, or tag and categorize it, so that it can be easily sorted and published together.
Your content – photos, videos and virtual tours – should be easily accessible to the travel shopper. Multimedia galleries are a common and logical step. Divide them into sub-sections that each tells part of your story in an easy and straightforward way to publish your content in an engaging and interesting manner.
The High Peaks Resort organizes its media into easy-to-navigate tabs on their hotel website.
- Look for a solution that lets you publish directly to all channels including social media, either through galleries or scheduled regular postings, to get the word out consistently.The integration with social media opens up opportunities to find new ways for companies to get their message across and attract more visitors to existing sites, giving you a simple and user-friendly way to manage all your online marketing in one place.
- Your web publishing system should help you work more efficiently. Look for a system that allows you to create content once and then publish versions to other channels like mobile.Along with publishing to your own standard website, you also need a system that allows you to easily publish smartphone- and tablet-optimized versions of your hotel website to give shoppers a seamless, multi-media rich experience when browsing from mobile devices. The same goes for distributing to third-party travel websites to expand the reach of your hotel’s story.
Ideally, you want to find a system where you can create your content or stories once, and then publish it to a variety of different channels without having to consistently curate original material.
- Along with efficiency, you also want something that is simple to use and doesn’t require the help of a webmaster or agency.Creating your hotel website is just the first step. There will likely be many changes you want to make along the way – such as updating your website with seasonal offers and content. Look for a solution that makes it easy for you to update your hotel website – without having to spend the time and money turning to a webmaster or agency.
- Media is important, but so is vital hotel information. A great web publishing system acts as a true content management system as well.
Storing your photos, videos and virtual tours is a must – but so is storing all your hotel information. We’re talking about everything from your contact information and address to room types and amenities. Your web publishing system should act as a central repository as well as manage all your content.
- An effective hotel website gives travelers what they’re looking for, such as reviews and important hotel information.
Choose a web publishing system that allows you to seamlessly integrate third-party widgets like TripAdvisor reviews and Google Maps. This ensures travelers don’t have to leave your site to search for reviews online and can easily find the information they need to make a booking.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites North Bay makes it easy for travelers to read reviews or see exactly where they’re located by integrating TripAdvisor reviews and Google maps directly on their hotel website.
- To drive direct bookings, your hotel website must make the booking process simple.Today’s consumers have low attention spans so don’t make them jump through hoops to make a booking. A booking button should appear on every page of your hotel website and connect seamlessly with your own Internet Booking Engine to capture direct bookings.
- Your web publishing system should make it easy to measure your success.In-house reporting and analytics capabilities allow you to track where and what consumers are engaging with online. This solution also makes it convenient to identify your top content and channels and strategize accordingly. It also allows for a seamless evaluating process rather than having to extract your data from third party sites.
- The world is changing rapidly – make sure you’re using advanced technology.Gone are the days when you had to use a specific device to update your website. Look for a web- or cloud-based web publishing system that allows you to update your website as needed, no matter where you are in the world, with no delays or lags.
What’s the number one feature you look for before choosing a web publishing system?
This blog post is the fourth in a series of five blog posts about creating an effective web marketing strategy to reach and engage travel shoppers online with a successful hotel website. Check out Part 5: 7 Ways You Can Master The Art of Web Analytics.