One of my favourite shows on television is ‘Hotel Impossible’ on the Travel Channel. The host, Anthony Melchiorri, a veteran hotel operator and hospitality expert, visits hotels that are struggling with problems and having a tough time keeping afloat in the competitive hospitality industry. More often than not, the biggest problem is the hotel owners themselves. There are times when even the most basic requirement of keeping the grounds clean and safe is not addressed. I can certainly understand his frustration because safety and security of hotel guests should be the highest of priority for anyone who is operating a hotel.
This got me thinking about what is happening on the online platform. As a travel entrepreneur myself, I do a lot of research online to keep up with the latest trends and learn from experts in the tourism and hospitality industry including the hotel line. From my observation, hotel websites especially, range from amazingly efficient to downright frustrating. This is actually quite perplexing because the Internet has been around for ages and most hoteliers should be quite familiar with what should and should not be done on their websites. Their websites, after all, should be one of the main revenue channels for them.
So, what is up with crappy websites with outdated information, lousy images and the lack of an easy way to use the booking engine? In order to focus on the bigger revenue picture, hoteliers should support strategies such as investing in hotel meta search and online ads, with important activities on their own websites.
There are just three essential steps that hoteliers undertake to improve their websites’ performance and their potential customers’ online experience.
This is probably the easiest thing for hoteliers to do. Important and relevant information about the hotels should be on their website. If they find it a bit challenging to write interesting articles, they can make a series of videos and upload it on their website or YouTube where people can find them. There is an endless stream of topics that can be highlighted from their room promotions, interviews with key personnel, their latest menu item to just saying hi to their potential guests. What is important is to update their content on a regular basis. No one likes to read about a promotion on the hotel website, which had expired last year!
New Photos, Please
A picture tells a thousand words! None is truer for the hospitality industry. Hotels are not just about accommodating travellers. They are about making dreams come true. These are dreams of escaping to a beautiful resort where guests can escape from the tedious monotony of daily life. So, how can hotels sell dreams? By uploading good quality images of the hotel and the surrounding which can stir the imagination of their potential guests online. Their website should capture the interest of travellers at the earliest stage of dreaming and planning their holiday. Old, outdated photos do not.
Make it Easy to Book
People nowadays are quite impatient especially when they are surfing online. We do not tolerate slow loading websites. Neither do we want to work too hard browsing for information on any particular websites. So, why do still find myself spending precious minutes searching for a way to book my hotel stay? Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence. It is perplexing to see hoteliers not paying crucial attention on ensuring an efficient booking experience for their guests online. What is the point of spending money on online ads and other traffic generating tactics? Fix the problem and make it easy for your guests to book online.
The three steps are easy to do and do not need million dollar budget. Affordable resources are readily available and some can be found in their own establishment. It is just a matter of recognizing the need and prioritizing.