A hotel’s brand can’t survive without a quality website that will build awareness and drive conversion. But sometimes it’s not enough to rely on the site a big brand provides. Unique properties need unique websites.
“It always takes a lot of hard work to grow your online presence, to grow your brand,” said David Mitroff, CEO, founder and chief consultant at Piedmont Avenue Consulting. However, if done right, that hard work will pay off when it comes to getting in front of the right customers.
A hotel’s online presence is important because it allows hoteliers to track and analyze results, and then quickly respond and adjust for optimal performance. But the key, Mitroff said, is to make sure all messaging is consistent across marketing efforts.
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That consistency is critical on the hotel’s website, which Mitroff said is the most important area for building brand awareness.
“It’s the most important area because you own it and can control it,” he said, adding that the website is the central hub of a hotel’s online strategy and the definition of the property and its message.
“You can go in and customize and control the parts that you can because you will show up better in Google searches if you do,” he said. “If a brand allows you to create your own site, you should. It allows for better search engine optimization because the website you made shows up better in search results because it’s unique.”
He said a unique hotel website, separate from what a brand provides, allows hoteliers to:
Control the content. Hoteliers can tell the unique story of their property.
Define a clear message. The website allows for the opportunity to share what the hotel offers.
Create a medium for content. The website holds the key for customers to contact the property, invites feedback and answers questions.
Provide links. Social media links can tell customers how they can continue a conversation and help to spread brand awareness.
Update content. The ability to update the website’s content ensures a consistent message is portrayed with the most current information available.
Content is Critical
Mitroff said that the website can’t be a successful tool unless it has good content with calls to action that will help drive traffic and ultimately conversion.
Calls to action tell customers what are the next steps after visiting the website, so hoteliers should make sure services and products are labeled and promoted properly. Mitroff said successful calls to action come in the form of: discounts; downloads, with a request to capture the visitor’s email address in return; business-to-business services; hints and tips; event invites; and support of a cause.
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“For instance, if you give us your email, we’ll invite you to this special event. Or, we’re doing this charity event related to our property,” Mitroff said. “It gives people an excuse to stay at your property, give you their email address, call you, or go to your property and check it out.”
Finally, Mitroff said hoteliers should include links to their social media pages on their websites for platforms such as TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, as well as clearly displaying other ways to connect via email or signing up for a newsletter. Displaying these clearly can help to drive customers to other areas where they can continue a conversation about the brand.
“Think about who are your customers, who are the people who talk to each other, and how do you get in front of them,” Mitroff said.