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Katie French-White

Katie has been working with boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental properties, wedding venues and more for over 21 years. She is passionate about the numbers and helping properties succeed.

Digital marketing and website design strategies are applicable to just about every industry. However, having an expert in your precise industry will not only save you time and money, it will also substantially increase your revenue over the course of owning your business. Finding an experienced hospitality web design and marketing professional will be time well spent. Below you will find some key considerations regarding your hotel marketing and website design.

Digital Marketing - Lodging Property with Ocean Views

What Hospitality Digital Marketers and Web Designers Offer

Experts in the hospitality field do not have a learning curve. They know what needs to be done and have tracked real results for thousands of other businesses in hospitality. They can hit the ground running and produce substantial results for a bed and breakfast, inn, hotel, restaurant, event venue or property management company immediately. This provides an incredible advantage for small businesses that need quick results.

Website Design for Hospitality - Custom Website Design

Hospitality Website Design Cautions!

Launching a new hospitality website design is exciting and fun and the possibilities are endless. However, there are many common pitfalls hospitality experts know to avoid. Poorly planned website launches can adversely affect how many reservations the property will generate over the next year and beyond. Here are some key tips and warnings:

  • Make sure you own your most important digital asset. Often web design and marketing companies hold the websites they produce hostage by requiring their clients “rent” the site on a monthly or annual basis. While renting might make the website seem more affordable, in the long run it comes with a steep cost and offers high risk to the business. Once the client decides to look for a new marketing company, they are surprised they can’t take their website with them. This type of shady business practice unfortunately happens frequently. Read the fine print and think long term.
  • Wix, Weebly and Squarespace websites, while affordable, have limitations. Generally, businesses have a family member or friend launch these websites and they do not integrate the fundamentals that set up the framework for long term success. From proper Google Analytics installation, strategic search engine optimization, URL creation, and proper mobile vs. desktop design, there are a slew of challenges that can seriously undermine your bottom line.
  • A hospitality website design is part art and part science. It must be fast and incorporate solid SEO tactics, but if it isn’t also visually compelling, conversions will be low. On the flipside, it can be a stunning visual design, but if no one can find it, it doesn’t matter. Choose your designer carefully.
Four Fillies Lodge Website design

The Website Design Competitive Advantage

An expert in bed and breakfast or boutique hotel website design will take the time to understand your business, your main points of difference, and your competition in order to set you apart from the crowd.

  • Make sure your website is more beautiful, functions better and has superior SEO as compared to your competitors.
  • Make sure to properly integrate an easy to use but powerful booking engine like Think Reservations.
  • Hire a professional photographer to properly capture the beauty of your area during multiple seasons. Have your photographer or videographer also take photos with diverse groups of people. Real photos add authenticity and uniqueness to your brand.
  • Incorporate video strategically throughout the website.
  • Highlight any major awards or press mentions to develop trust.
  • Whatever makes you better/different/unique than your competitors must be elegantly stated throughout the website.

The website is one of your most important assets. You should allocate your marketing budget accordingly.

Website Design Hotels

What Really Matters in the World of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses a vast array of services and strategies. It is easy to get lost and work exclusively in areas that are most familiar, rather than the ones that convert at a high rate. Not all digital marketing services are created equal and spending your hard-earned marketing dollars in the proper channels will be rewarding to your bottom line.

It starts with having Google Analytics set up correctly with revenue tracking. This means you have to integrate code on the website and booking engine. Having this properly set up allows you to make budgetary decisions based on results.

Your booking engine should be cutting-edge and stay on top of the constant changes our industry deals with. Whether from API feeds to OTA channels or Google, offering integrations that are incredibly helpful to hospitality businesses like texting, or understanding the inner workings of a bed and breakfast or hotel to know what types of packages are needed. Your booking engine must be top of the line and integrate constant innovation. We give our full recommendation to Think Reservations.

Google organic results convert at a higher rate than all other channels by a huge margin. To ignore SEO on the website and Google Business Places is a huge mistake. This channel alone can ruin a company or allow them to have record breaking years.

Google Ads has had a bad reputation in the past. However, a well optimized and maintained Google Ads account should be in the top 4 producing referrers in Google Analytics. It allows you to uniquely target your market and track the results. If you are starting with a new property or new URL, paid search marketing is a must in getting immediate traffic to the website.

Google Hotel Ads (GHA) should also be in the top 4 converting referrers in Google Analytics for your boutique hotel. It is especially important to run Google Hotel Ads if properties are marketing in the OTA channels. There is hidden value with every booking in that you could have lost a certain percentage to the OTAs. GHA should be a direct connection and set up within your booking engine.

Email marketing is a wonderful way to stay in touch with past guests and push unique sales, packages and experiences. Email marketing is only as good as the list you have collected over the years. Integrating a marketing strategy to increase your email list is important as is a strategic yearly calendar to send out timely email blasts.

Social media marketing is another way to stay in touch with your followers. It also has a place in the lineup because of the unique targeting options they offer with ads and remarketing. Most hotels and inns integrate social media marketing because it is what they know. However, it doesn’t convert in the ballpark of some of these other channels.

Partnering with directories is another avenue that can bring in more business. Whether it is local, state, national or a niche directory, these can bring in bookings as well. Keep in mind, you can spend your entire marketing budget on links alone. It is important to track results to make sure you don’t waste your money.

While not all inclusive of what you could or should be doing with your own digital marketing strategies, these are great places to start in critically examining your budget, strategy and success.

Luxury Hotel Marketing and Design

Yield Management is the Secret Sauce

Do you know the actual cost per night of an empty room? We are talking about integrating electric, water and every expenditure per room. Every hotel and inn should know this answer which will help with setting rates. Other considerations are looking at your competitors (online and off), the seasons, activities and supply and demand. You can price yourself out of the market, and you can also under value your product and leave money on the table. Hiring a professional to help with your yielding while it might feel a bit scary to give away this closely guarded task, can help you have record breaking years while working smarter not harder. Would you like to have fewer guests but make more over the course of a year and not have to turn as many rooms? We caution you to not get overly focused on occupancy rates. Also, don’t forget to yield your weddings.

Vacation Rental marketing

Why and When You Should Hire an Expert

Do you intimately understand every topic discussed in this blog post? Do you understand how to set these up, manage and alter within each topic based on real data? Are you satisfied with your yearly revenue? Most hoteliers and innkeepers will answer no to these questions. It isn’t a surprise because there is always more you can do with marketing and the industry is constantly changing.

Do you find that your competitors are full while you have an uncomfortable level of availability?  Do you have big revenue goals but are falling short? Are you busy running your inn while providing an exceptional experience therefore you do not have time to learn all of this? If you answered yes, then you should consider hiring a hospitality expert.

Grafton - Bed and Breakfast Marketing (1)

Kick it Up a Notch

We didn’t cover useful tools (like texting) to help your business, automation, packages, local networking, remarketing or niche marketing to name but a few. Contact us today if you are ready to take things to a new level.