October 18, 2017 · Meisha Bochicchio
Does Your Hotel’s Marketing Sit On A Throne Of Lies?
You are glowing; ecstatic; enamored. Why? You just dropped several grand on an immaculate new hotel website and cannot wait to hit the ground running. This new website is going to generate millions for your property and is a massive upgrade from the old version. However, does your hotel website accurately portray the experience a guest could expect on property? There is a definite line between showcasing your hotel or resort property in the absolute best light possible and misrepresenting your property.
“So what, we touched up a few images, what’s the big deal?”
The big deal is, if your website and the online shopping experience do not match the on-site experience, your guests are not going to be happy. By setting unrealistic expectations, you are setting yourself up for failure from day one.
This is the typical timeline of what happens when a hotel property gets too aggressive with “perfecting” their website:
- New website launches, does not match the on-site experience
- Property guests book via the new website
- Guests arrive at property, only to be disappointed with the on-site experience
- Guests leave negative reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, etc. and share photos and stories that showcase the hotel in a negative light
- Online reputation diminishes, eroding at the ADR that hotel can demand, resulting in lower profits and fewer bookings over time
Expectation vs Reality
Are you concerned about the state of your hotel rooms? Fix it. Are you worried that the true images of your property will not put heads in beds? Fix it. Are you nervous that the online reviews of your property might actually scare away future guests? Fix it.
Altering the appearance of your property or including false information on your website is simply a band-aid, not a long-term solution. And, it is a band-aid that will do more harm than good in the long run.
Furthermore, this concept of consistency is not limited to the design of your website. Does the address provided via your website match what is listed on Google? How frustrating would it be for someone to use Google Maps to find your property, only to be navigated to the wrong hotel? Do the reviews provided on your website match the reviews that are provided via TripAdvisor and other aggregator sites? How misleading would it be to have shining, 5-star reviews all over your website when your TripAdvisor page shows an average rating of only 2.5?
Tips For Ensuring A Consistent Online & Offline Hotel Experience
Here are 6 fast and easy website elements you can audit to ensure that you are providing the most relevant online and offline experience possible.
Ensuring your hotel’s NAP information (name/address/phone number) is essential to not only directing potential guests to the right location, but also for your search engine optimization efforts. Google and Bing are where you want to start, followed by your social media channels and third party listing. There are, however, hundreds of online aggregator sites that collect local information. Reaching out to a hotel marketing agency or a third-party software platform can help you manage these listings and ensure completion and consistency across all channels.
Is all of the information on your hotel’s website up to date and accurate? This could be anything from your check-in and check-out times to the hours for amenities, including the pool, gym, and restaurants. Are all of the amenities, activities, and services listed on your website still available? Additionally, if you have information about your property listed on other third-party sites, you will want to audit those pages and make sure all property-specific information is accurate. You could be confusing or misleading guests with outdated or irrelevant information.
Your hotel copywriting should help the travel shopper imagine himself/herself at your property. Writing should be consistent throughout the website and truly capture the tone and character of your property. However, do not make the mistake of exaggerating your hotel details. It can be easy to let creativity cross the line from highlighting room and amenity features to blatantly lying about the on-site experience. A slight water-view from the side of a room’s balcony does not qualify as an “oceanfront vista”. Balance creative, captive writing with honest depictions of what a guest could actually experience during his/her visit.
Photography is often a hotel’s most valuable yet most neglected asset. Images are what sell hotels – plain and simple. When a shopper sees images of a family enjoying a vacation and can picture themselves enjoying your property, you have done your job. Having high-quality and up to date photography is an absolute must for any hotel or resort. The question often arises, how much altering should I allow or encourage for my hotel photography? Our standard rule of thumb is to do as little editing as possible. Your hotel images should showcase your property in a natural setting, with minimal alterations done to “fix” anything. Of course, you want the colors to “pop” and draw searchers in, but be careful. For example, beach destination hotels are strongly discouraged from altering the color of the water seen from room or balcony shots. As tempting as it might be to highlight the “crystal water views”, this is not always an accurate depiction of a beach destination. Again, if the state of your hotel is a concern for your photography, fix it.
Having authentic reviews on your hotel’s website will not only provide social proof about the actual on-site experience from former guests and reinforce your marketing message, but also lower the chances of shoppers leaving your website to seek outside opinions. Chances are, people will still view other online reviews, but giving them what they want in advance is always a good strategy. They key to listing reviews on your website is to be authentic. Completely hiding anything below a certain rating threshold or, even worse, curating fake reviews will be incredibly detrimental to your property in the long run. Shoppers will quickly spot the discrepancy between your hotel’s testimonials and what is present on third-party sites and will immediately begin to question everything else about your property. Even a few negative reviews won’t be nearly as detrimental as long as visitors can see your hotel acknowledging and responding to feedback and criticism. There are several software options when it comes to managing and encouraging online reviews that can expedite this process. Again, if listing genuine reviews on your website is a scary prospect because of your level of service or the state of your hotel, fix it.
Does your website boast fast, friendly service? Does your hotel promote going “above and beyond” to cater to guests? Does your marketing tout how helpful and efficient your staff is? And, if so, does your hotel actually live up to the hype? Staff interactions are an oft-overlooked part of the hotel marketing experience. Whether you are a family-friendly property with an emphasis on children or a high-end property with a focus on the experience, every interaction a guest has with a staff member needs to be polite, helpful, and memorable; and, this applies to everyone from the front desk staff to the housekeeping and maintenance staff. People remember their interactions and will often name specific staff members in online reviews, pointing out either a great interaction or a less than desirable interaction. Wouldn’t you rather have guests raving about their unbelievable customer service experience? If service is an important focus for your hotel or resort (which, to be clear, it should be) then you need to ensure any specific website references are replicated on-property.
Providing a quality and consistent online and offline hotel experience will not only produce happy guests but also bigger bottom lines for your hotel property.
With over 25 years of hotel experience, our talented team can help you build a spectacular online presence. Contact us today for a complimentary website evaluation.