A long time ago, when booking a place to say, a guest’s first impression of the hotel wasn’t made until they walked through the door and into the lobby. This, of course, was during the days of dial-up Internet and having an online presence wasn’t as crucial as it is today. Today, first impressions start the second a potential booker loads the business website of the hotel they are interested in reserving. You might say, the booking experience is a doorway to their stay.
Much like creating the ultimate hospitality experience for your guests, when it comes to designing your hotel website, there are a couple of crucial elements to include (see our guide on how to start a service business). In order to make sure you don’t miss a thing, we’re going to take you through the process of how to make a great website for your hotel:
Read Also: How to start a business
01. Choose a template
As a busy owner (especially in this type of business) you have a ton of things to deal with, from the bills to your staff. However, web design shouldn’t be one of those tasks. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be thanks to the wide variety of templates available. Now you’re able to build the site you – and your guests – have always dreamed of, regardless if you’re a small B&B or a 100 room hotel. When choosing a free hotel website template, you don’t need to worry about it missing anything, as each one comes with all the latest features already included. A couple of examples include: a rich menu, a contact form, a gallery, a social network bar and an intuitive booking solution. All that’s left for you to do is fill your chosen templates with your hotel’s information, images and branding.
Of course, some people don’t want to spend too much time on creating their website and that’s just fine. If you fall into this crowd, then Wix ADI is the perfect tool for you, which allows you to create a professional website in a matter of a couple of minutes. The Wix Editor enables many customization capabilities to further adjust and align with your brand.
02. Incorporate a booking and payment solution
Whether you’re renting out your hotel, B&B, city apartment, or beachside bungalow, you’ll need the help of an all-in-one online booking system. As a Wix user you can incorporate Wix Hotels on your site and get access to the following features:
Manage your reservations: Easily keep track of your reservations online.
Accept payments: Get paid and keep 100% of your earnings (Wix doesn’t take any fees).
Create flexible pricing options: Set different rates according to the season so your prices match the demand.
Take bookings from any device: Create a seamless booking website experience directly on your site that can be accessed from both desktop and mobile.
Let guests book in their own language: Offer multilingual options for reservations so every guest can book easily.
Send instant confirmation emails: Your guests will automatically get a friendly email as soon as they book a room.
03. Add the relevant pages
While the primary goal of your lodging website is to get reservations, it takes a lot more than the ability to take reservations to sell to a potential customer. Your website needs to provide an ‘experience’ of what you have to offer at your location. You can achieve this by including the correct pages:
Home page: This needs no introduction, as the home page is the face of your website. It’s the page that your visitors will arrive at after inputting your domain into their web browsers. Considering this, it’s important that the essentials are found on this page. If your website was a restaurant, the home page would be the tasting menu showing you a little bit of everything your site has to offer, where your other pages would be the à la carte menu.
While a welcoming, large photo is always nice to see, make sure your homepage isn’t short on descriptive text about your hotel, along with appropriately placed CTAs. Be sure to make it quick and easy for guests to check room availability so you can keep their interest. You can do this in two ways with Wix Hotels: add a search bar to look for room availability or display a calendar on the page showing the availability. Since this is your home page, the former may be better suited to avoid an otherwise ‘busy’ experience”
Describe your space(s): No, it’s not good enough to just have a short description of your room or spaces available to rent and expect a ton of bookings. If you leave enough to the imagination, people will fill in the blanks for you, and when it comes to a hotel, it will probably be for the worse. Avoid this by creating a dedicated page for each property you have available for your customers. Include a description that leaves nothing to the imagination, so your visitors know exactly what they’re getting. You can do this by incorporating the following:
Photos: While your accommodations should speak for themselves, you should always provide clear photos of the space available. This is where your customers will potentially be staying and if you don’t have time to take clear pictures of the rooms you’re renting, well, it doesn’t send the most positive message. Also be sure to take several shots at different angles so your potential customers can better envision themselves there. Do you want to showcase photos of your property in the most stunning way possible? Display them in using Wix Pro Gallery to let your rooms come alive.
Descriptions: Take your future guests on a visual and descriptive journey of your rooms by describing the look and feel of your beautiful space. Using carefully crafted words, you’ll be able to give guests a glimpse of what to expect. In order to be as transparent as possible, state the facts about each one of your rooms as well. Make sure you leave no detail behind. For example: bed size, number of beds, amenities, maximum number of guests, extra charges (such as for breakfast or WIFI).
‘About us’ page: Everyone loves a beautiful story and it most certainly can affect decision making. An ‘About us’ page not only allows you to show off how your hotel came to be, but it also shows what makes you different than the others that offer similar accommodations. Even if your story isn’t meant to pull at the heartstrings, it lets your site visitors get to know you more, which in turn helps build trust.
FAQ: Answer before they ask. This is intuitive to your customer and efficient for you, which makes it a great addition to your website. By including an FAQ page you can provide answers to questions that may naturally come up while clients browse your site. To get it right, you can read through our guide on how to create a killer FAQ page.
Share your reviews: Save your site visitors a trip to Yelp and Google by providing customer reviews directly on your website! My Reviews allows you to do just this, and pulls real reviews from online directories. Showing reviews directly on your website proves transparency, which helps build a trusting relationship between the vendor and customer. But that’s not the only reason to show reviews. It’s also a little bit about boasting about your successes. This is the place to show off your TripAdvisor reviews, positive press coverage, magazine features or awards your business has acquired. This is a good and accepted place to be a total show off and no one will judge you.
Contact page: This is arguably one of the most important pages on your site. Luckily, you can show that ‘you’re there’ in several ways. You can add a separate page (or a section) that is dedicated to all of your contact information. This includes phone numbers, email, social media accounts, a contact form and any other possible way clients can get in touch with you. Customers have come to expect to be able to find all your information in the footer of your site (you know, that area right at the bottom). So on top of the page that you create, make sure your footer is filled with up-to-date contact and any extra info like a map and your terms and conditions. Lastly, you should add a live chat feature so that your visitors can strike up a conversation with you then and there.
04. Brand it right
In addition to a proper domain for your website, you’ll also want to include any and all branding assets to your website. A couple of these include:
A customized domain: Your domain name should be the name of your hotel and possibly a strong keyword affiliated with it – your location or type of hotel. For example, if your hotel is called ‘Sally’s Inn’ and is located in Maine, your domain could be: www.sallysinnmaine.com. For more on this, check out this insightful guide on how to choose the best domain for your site.
A logo: This is the visual representation of your hotel that customers will associate with your brand. Don’t have a logo? No problem. You can create your own logo online and customize it using Wix Logo Maker. After that, your little gem can be displayed throughout all of your marketing efforts and even your favicon (the small icon that appears on a tab in your browser). Lastly, don’t forget to always link your logo back to your homepage – it’s a web norm these days. Make sure to read through this guide on what makes a good logo before you get started on your creation.
Define your visual language: The use of color is not only for making your site look pretty. Believe it or not, color has the ability to affect and evoke specific emotions within your visitors. The choice of your palette will also play an important role in the overall performance of your site (conversion rates, time spent on page, etc.). Want to play it safe? Go for a clean white or black background. Then, limit yourself to two colors for the other elements (buttons, texts, etc.) of your site. When it comes to your fonts we’ve got the ultimate guide to choosing the best fonts for your website.
05. Get social
It doesn’t end with just having a website. The Internet world basically runs on social networks, so it’s important that your business is also active on them as well. It’s a free and easy way to spread your name even wider. You can give your site visitors a glimpse of your social channels directly on your website by including a live Instagram feed or Facebook stream. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to add a social bar with links to all of your social networks on the header or footer of your website as well.
06. Be mobile ready
With more and more Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s imperative that your entire website offers a mobile friendly experience. Luckily, Wix Hotels offers this out of the gate, so all you need to do is make sure it’s designed to your liking. Offering a seamless mobile experience not only ensures that you’re equipped to handle traffic from any source, but it can also positively affect your SEO ranking as well. You can check out these hotel website design examples for a drop of inspiration.
07. Pay attention to SEO
In simple terms, SEO is the practice of optimizing your site so that your pages can rank higher on search engines’ results. There are a couple of ways to boost your efforts such as: choosing the right domain name, adding alt text to your images and using the right keywords throughout your site. A good SEO setup is more than choosing the right keywords to ‘get on Google.’ It’s a process that will help your customers find you more easily and in turn bring you more business, so it’s a win-win. Luckily, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to yield great results. Wix SEO not only walks you through the entire process and is completely free to use, you’ll see your website indexed instantly on Google while going through it.
Since you’re a hotel with a fixed location, one important factor you need to focus on is your local SEO. Think of search engines as the online version of the Yellow Pages. There are a couple of actions you can take to ensure your hotel is associated with a geographical location in the minds of Google, Bing and Co. The first step? Sign up your business to Google My Business to put yourself on the map. For example, let’s say you are the owner of a hotel called ‘Sleep Tight Boston’. If a potential client looking for accommodation searches for ‘hotel in Boston’ your site will have a better chance of showing up since your business ‘matches’ the search criteria.
08. Get a second opinion before publishing
After spending too much time on any project it is important to be able to walk away from it so you can see it with fresh eyes later, allowing you to see details that you may not have noticed previously. Even though you’ve poured your digital blood, sweat, and probably literal tears into the creation of your website, it’s best to get the opinion of someone else before you hit the publish button. Showing your website to a friend who isn’t close with the project will allow you to get feedback that you probably wouldn’t have thought of, which is feedback more in line to that of an anonymous website visitor. Listening to their feedback and making adjustments can make a great experience for the end user.
09. Update your site regularly
A website isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ project, especially if you’re relying on it for your business. Updating your website with fresh content consistently can bring your SEO ranking up with Google. Of course, there’s a good chance that your hotel isn’t going to grow thirty rooms overnight or dramatically change in ways that you can continuously update the website but this is why you should look into starting a blog. You could cover topics like: the latest travel destinations, showcase the location of your hotel or create a list of top things to do and see when visiting your hotel. Not sure how to get going? Read through this insightful guide on blogging for business.