Thursday, 29 November 2012

Make your website as good as you are

While we're not web-designers, we do look at dozens of client websites every week, and most of us come from marketing backgrounds. On top of that we see just how many negatives posted relate to the business's website. This article in Hotels magazine resonates with us and we thought we ought to share our thoughts:

What do you want visitors to your website to do?

Book (hotels); contact you (estate agents) - so your whole site should be dedicated to this end.

Most common errors...
Not quite the hotel! Definitely not the estate agency!
Photos of Buckingham Palace. Awful photos (out of focus/mobile phone). Small photos (with no way of enlarging). 'Stock' photos - a 'receptionist' but not the agent's receptionist). Lots of text that never gets read, links that don't work, links to sites that take your business away.

Examples (real, but no names!): 

"Within easy reach of [Buckingham Palace]" - again - 3 miles and 6 tube stops (that 'looked close' to their web designer who was in Manchester) 

"Park view" [4 rooms out of 60] setting the hotel up for a constant stream of complaints on TripAdvisor: 'Our view was of the hotel opposite.'

"Quiet" [unless the nightclub is open, which it is - until 2 am - Thurs-Sat] - enough said

One lonely testimonial (for an estate agent), from 2009 - from a client called 'Mr P'

A link from an estate agents' site to a site that ranked them 213th in the UK

Last Christmas's special offer still on the site in May


What the visitor to your website wants in 2012

It's all about first impressions. And that impression has to be made instantly. In the early days of the web it was all about telling everything, now we know you have seconds to convince the consumer. By all means include detail but keep your home page clean - the detail can be kept behind tabs.

We are constantly surprised by the contrast between websites and reality; estate agents who spend huge amounts of money on their offices, but next to none on their websites, lovely hotels with awful websites. Great websites need not cost a fortune, but cheap ones will cost you a fortune in lost business.

Hotels

According to TripAdvisor the average guest visits seven websites before booking. And one of those will be the hotel's own site - so the hotel has at least a chance of getting the booking (and getting it direct) if their website does what the potential guest wants. 


You want them to book through your website, so...


Where DO I start?
  • Photographs - the bigger (and more professional) the better, with accurate descriptions - of bedrooms and other facilities the guest will use - exterior shots are great, but remember they will be staying in the hotel
  • An easy way to book - with all the options - booking engine, phone, email
  • The credible opinions of people who have stayed recently
  • Biographies of the owner/gm/key staff - it's a people business

Estate Agents

Most visitors to estate agents' own sites are, by definition, potential sellers/landlords (purchasers/tenants visit once the transaction is underway). What do they want to see? 

Just like hotels, it's all about first impressions:
  • Clear and informative
  • The answer to the question: 'what value will this agent add?'
  • Biographies of key members of staff - again 'its a people business'
  • The credible opinions of clients who have done business recently
Staff photos are great - but steady with the gel!
In summary:
  • Lavish the same care as you do with your hotel/office
  • More images - less words (unlike this blog!)
  • Personality - people buy from people
  • Credible reviews - up-to-date

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