The following guest article has been written by Hendrik Köhler, co-founder & CMO of our partner, Websitebutler. Websitebutler offers Websites as a Service, ie the creation, development and maintenance of websites for small and medium-sized businesses. If you would like an online consultation, just give in your website needs and let Websitebutler put it together for you.
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Do you want your hotel or restaurant to become more known? Of course you do. As more and more people turn to the internet to search for hotels, having a good online presence is crucial. The first step to getting more traffic to your internet presence is to make sure that your website can be found in search engines with search terms that potential customers might use. Many of your competitors have the same goal as you so it is important to stand out from the crowd. As always, first impressions count, but your internet presence must be professional and provide value to your visitors as well and the distinct character of your hotel or restaurant must be presented correctly.
These days, people don’t look through the yellow pages to find a nearby restaurant nor do they spend ages looking at brochures to find accommodation; the internet has pretty much replaced paper media. Mobile technology has enabled easy access to the internet making it simple to get the information you require and to choose exactly what you want from wherever you are.
If your website doesn’t come up when someone is searching for a hotel or restaurant, your competitors have already gained an edge over you and increased their chances of getting a booking. To be more successful than your competition, it is vital for your website to be found easily on search engines; to be visually appealing; and to have clear and simple navigation, solid content and exciting visuals.
If you want to raise your profile and increase your success, you must have a solid online presence that is easily found by potential customers and that distinguishes itself from your competitors’ websites.
Always keep your target group in mind. If you run a family hotel, you want to address parents who are looking for a place to stay for their children and themselves. These parents value child-friendly accommodation and services; they are also interested in activities in the surrounding area. On the other hand, if you have an Italian restaurant, you might want to stress the ambience wth its characteristic Italian charm as well as the good food. Business travellers have other requirements that you must emphasise on your website. Make sure that the most important things your target group might be interested in come up immediately. You can go into details later on. The more you can catch your visitors’ attention immediately, the more likely they are to stay on your website and the more likely they are to book.
Photographs of your hotel or restaurant and the surrounding area are invaluable to give your visitors a favourable and authentic impression of what you have to offer. Again, keep your target group in mind when choosing which pictures to put on your website. For instance, family hotels might want to showcase images of child-friendly rooms, a playground on the premises and, if you have one, pictures of a friendly capable childminder. Photographs of family-oriented activities in the vicinity would also be appropriate. Business travellers, on the other hand, would be more interested in seeing the stylish décor, meeting rooms and the location. Pictures of a wellness area would appeal to people seeking a relaxing holiday.
Ideally, content and images should complement each other to give a complete picture of what is on offer. Your target visitor should understand immediately what your special features are, be it cosyness, respectability, a feel-good atmosphere, relaxation, simplicity, conviviality or your own unique charm. Pictures of nearby points of interest such as a beach promenade, an idyllic town centre and other sights add to the visual temptation. Images speak directly to the heart and, combined with short texts explaining what they are, provide valuable information to your customer. A map such as Google Maps can show where you are located.
The start page of the website should give a visual and informational overview of what the website is about and confirm to the visitor that they have landed on the right page. Other pages can then go more indepth into what you want to convey, be it more information or offers. These pages can easily be optimised for higher rankings in search engines. In order for customers to be able to navigate your website easily, you need to structure it properly. Short infomative texts on the start page, for example, can be linked internally to more indepth pages.
Your website must also publish your contact information and a way for your guests to book online. The booking system should make it possible for guests to instantly check availability after entering the dates wanted and number of people booking. Of course, the system must allow immediate reservations as well. This booking system must be linked to or placed on the start page in a highly visible manner. Guest reviews and testimonials, awards and positive press coverage are also essential for building a good confidence base and are easily integrated into your website with tools from Customer Alliance. A good reputation is crucial for building trust. A well designed and developed website includes placing all these elements above the fold on the start page.
Use your website to emphasise your uniqueness. You can achieve this not only by considering the needs of your visitors, but also by highlighting the special services you offer. Describe the surrounding area, write about local history, link to sights, exhibitions and events. Offer suggestions for leisure activities such as shopping, hikes and sports activities. Stand out by offering your own services or specials. If you have a restaurant, you could offer combination deals such as a visit to a cinema, the theatre or a museum with dinner at your restaurant afterwards. All this will make your establishment more tempting and positively influence your search engine rankings.
Yes, your website should be functional, sprinkled with emotional elements, packed with information on your establishment and nearby areas. But you mustn’t forget to “ask for the business”. Place your calls to action in strategic places. You can begin by inviting your potential guests to telephone you or to book on the start page. By placing your calls to action where they fit in naturally, you don’t come across as pushy, just helpful.
Don’t forget that your success depends on being found easily through search engines as well as being able to persuade potential customers to visit your establishment once they are on your website. This is where professional web development as well as brand design comes in. It is important that your website looks good and works well on all your devices whether they are PCs or mobiles. Content should deliver information as well as satisfy search engines. You can inspire confidence by including trust elements such as positive guest reviews, referring to SSL encryption at the appropriate place and a promise of quality on your website.
The development of a hotel or restaurant website, with all it entails, can lead to success. Your job is to cater for your guests and give them the best service possible. Websitebutler‘s job is to build a professional customer-friendly website for you. One of our online consultants will guide you through questions about content and design and then one of our experts will professionally implement your website. You don’t need any professional knowledge nor do you need to spend time on this, time that we know you would prefer to spend on your core business. At Websitebutler, we want to contribute to your success and will create a state-of-the-art visitor-friendly hospitality website for you.
How to gain trust in your website and your accomodation with guest reviews? We would love to tell you personally! Schedule your free demo here: