January 26, 2019 · Stuart Butler
Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 103 – 6 Hotel Website Audits That Will Save You From Losing Money
Today on the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast we are going to cover how to make the most of your marketing efforts by setting up a schedule of continual proofing to guarantee your hotel’s site is ready to convert guests to its fullest. How you ask? Simple, by ensuring your systems actually work as designed, track as they should, and trigger followups as expected.
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STAT OF THE WEEK
None this week
In this episode we are going over what you need to proof (and more aptly… reproof) on a monthly basis.
#1: Does Your Booking Engine Actually Work?
Do we really have to say this? Unfortunately we do. We find it far too common that the booking process at an independent hotel is way too cumbersome. In fact, most hotels do not pay much, if any, attention to the of the minutiae of the booking and check out process. However, our data proves that this is a tragic mistake. We suggest going through the entire booking process, with a real credit card, at least once per month. It’s even better to bring an outsider in and watch them complete the process. Is your shopping and checkout process the best it can be?
#2: Are Your Rates Beating The OTAs?
Okay, you should be testing this one more than once a month. However it is imperative that you are constantly checking to make sure your daily unrestricted rate is always the best option for customers. You do not, ever, want a guest to find a better rate for your property via the OTAs. How can you do this?
- Simply search several OTAs for several dates and make sure that your revenue team is always putting their best foot, and rate, forward.
- Use one of several monitoring tools, such as TripTease, to monitor all rates and update your direct rate to be the best.
TripTease data shows that hotels are being beaten by the OTAs 27% of the time. If this is you, it means you are actively discouraging your guest from booking with you directly.
This should be an ongoing process of testing and optimization for your revenue team. For you, you should be personally checking at least once per month to make sure you’re not missing a single booking to an OTA.
#3: Do Your Forms Do What You Expect?
It is so important to proof your conversion events on an ongoing basis. Very often a site update or software change can turn what was once a conversion in to a dead end. When reviewing a new client’s existing site that more often than not one or more forms do not work as expected. In some cases the form will submit but the notification does not go anywhere. In other cases the form can not be submitted at all.
In the case of form testing, it is important to go through the entire process with a fresh set of eyes and submit as if you were a customer. This means using real content, a real email, and testing that everything works as it should.
Oddly enough, the most common form we see issues with is the actual contact us form. In many cases it’s the forgotten form that’s relegated to a single link in the footer. That’s followed closely by the email signup, which often times doesn’t add the email to the proper mailing list.
#4: Are Your Email Triggers… Triggering?
Your email triggers are often closely related to your forms and you should be testing these monthly to guarantee your guests are getting the messages they should. While you are checking your forms, your booking engine, and the rest of your marketing, look out for the following:
- Thank you emails triggering, and triggering quickly
- Do you have any drip campaigns for guest history, booking anniversary, etc?
- Are all form notifications to the staff going out as they should and to the best person on your staff to respond to guests?
#5: Is Your Content Still Relevant?
Managing content on a site is not a set it and forget it process and even your evergreen content can start looking a bit dated if you don’t make updates. We recommend going through your site on a monthly basis to update and remove content. A good checklist would include:
- Check any events calendars to ensure they are up to date
- Review all posted special offers
- Review photography for dated clothing or where items are no longer at the property
- Review your news and articles and update as needed
- Make sure you main promotions are still accurate
- Review your automated email content
#6: Is Your Mobile Experience What Your Guests Demand?
We’ve past the mobile tipping point years ago, and many would say nearly passing the second mobile tipping point. But if you are like most hoteliers, you are only looking at your site on the giant monitor on your office desk. Unlike you, your guests are making their buying decision on the screen that’s in their pocket.
Once you are finished proofing all the five items we have already covered, start over and test them again on your phone as well. You are very likely to find that what works great on your big monitor either doesn’t work at all, or is very difficult on a phone.
Some other things you should be constantly re-evaluating:
- Google Ads ad copy and negative keyword list
- ADA compliance scans
- Analytics campaign tracking – RELATED: Common Pitfalls of Google Analytics Campaign Tracking
- Google Search Console SEO errors and recommendations
- Privacy and cookie policies
Your site and marketing is a living and breathing organism that needs regular check-ups to confirm everything is working well. And if you follow this checklist on a monthly basis you can be sure the money you are investing in marketing has a chance of converting when they get to your site.
Listener Question: Marc on Twitter asks:
Hey @FuelTravel, been looking around on information on how much occupancy and ADR decrease/increase during a hotel renovation and have not found anything useful from the Revenue Managers point of view.
Robert Cole’s Answer:
Tough question. No tangible data studies that I am familiar with. Don’t most revenue managers just trust their Ouija boards to come up with the right pricing strategy anyway…?
Seriously, I think it’s highly situational depending on the extent and disruption of the renovation.
Long ago, I know a property in Maui had a problem with trying to raise rates to reduce demand so they could refresh a floor at a time. It didn’t work. People kept paying the higher rates, which made it harder to justify closing off the inventory.
They finally bit the bullet after about three years as the hotel was visibly tired and expensive – this was pre-TripAdvisor, so wouldn’t have taken as long today to reach that decision.
I often see retail discounts in the 25% realm for relatively extensive renovations that are prominently disclosed on the website. That said, some properties will also dump inventory on opaque websites at radical discounts, which can be risky from a review/satisfaction perspective.
In The Newsaroos:
Hotel Marketing Changed Its Design And It Really Grinds My Gears:
Are We On The Verge Of A Price Parity Nightmare:
Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom.