And while some hotels—especially edgy, independent boutiques—might think a creative layout and design will be the thing to attract their target guests, Estep warns hotels from going too far. “That doesn’t really play well with consumers,” he says. “They prefer easy to artistic.”
Instead, making the layout and navigation simple and intuitive will benefit the hotel and lead to more bookings. To give guests the opportunity to book quickly when they are ready, Estep recommends incorporating an easy-to-find reservation link or button on every page.
Consider Installing Language Translators
Another website element that should also be considered is a language translator, especially for hotels where international travelers make up a big part of the business.
“Translation is important and an expectation,” says Justin Watkins, vice president of digital creative strategy at MMGY. “It gets at a deeper issue of empathizing with your audience and meeting them where they are. Beyond translation, it’s about predicting needs and simply being helpful.”
Estep says translators are important because multiple languages drive people to websites. Google rewards local languages—if your website has pages in French, it will get higher Google rankings in France and French Canada.
“You don’t necessarily have to translate the entire website, which can get very costly,” says Vallauri. “If you have a 50-page website in English and you have to translate it to French, it’s very expensive.”
Monitor Bookings Through the Cloud
Estep notes that with modern cloud-based software, maintaining a dynamic and current website is much easier than it used to be. He says he’s surprised by how many hoteliers aren’t aware of the impact their website has on the bottom line, even to the point that some don’t know how many bookings they yield from their sites.
“With cloud-based software you can see that at any time in real time,” he says. “You don’t have to go to someone and ask for a report, wait for the report to be sent to you and then look at it. You can go into a back office and see how many sales you have that day, you can see how many sales you’ve had in the last hour, the year, and the last month.”