As an innkeeper or owner of an event venue, we know that you spend lots of time and money making sure your property is perfect for your guests and clientele. But unfortunately, having the perfect property likely won’t matter if your current website isn’t showcasing your business in the best light possible. Your website is a 24/7 sales tool which is often the very first impression that consumers have before booking, and it’s essential to make it a good one. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to discover an old, tired website that’s not user-friendly, not technologically up to date, or maybe even offensive – that is if they can even find you! Any of these instances may lead them to book elsewhere, which will affect your bottom line.
So how do you know when it’s time to get a new website for your lodging or event property? Our industry experts have come up with the top 5 reasons you might be ready for a new site. Check them out below!
1. You’re a New or Soon-to-Be Innkeeper or Event Venue Owner
If you’ve recently purchased a property, are currently in escrow, or are planning to purchase one, it’s important to consider investing in a new website as early as possible. Here are a few tips for people who are new to the hospitality business:
- Increase sales, inquiries and occupancy almost immediately with a properly designed website and professional marketing support from the experts.
- Find a property with good bones, but in need of improvements to their online presence, so you can get a great deal on the purchase price and skyrocket to success with a professional site.
- Even if you’re planning on renovations, it’s a great idea to get the technology in place, start on the SEO and be ready to showcase your new photography as soon as it’s ready.
- It’s never too early to call White Stone Marketing for help. See how we played a part in Chatham Inn’s road to success, and designation as a Relais & Châteaux property.
2. You Plan on Selling Your Property or Business
Even if you’re planning on getting out of the hospitality business, it might still be the perfect time to invest in a new website for your lodging property or wedding venue. With a properly designed site, you’ll be able to position your property for a higher sales price and/or quicker sale.
- Showcase the best qualities of your property to help entice inquiries. Potential buyers are sure to do their due diligence – even before making contact.
- Create confidence in potential buyers with a reputable online presence.
- Make the transition easier for you and the new owner, so they are set up for success. If they feel there is less work for them to do, they will pay for that convenience.
- Edge up your Google ranking to help build confidence in the substantial investment buyers are making.
- If you don’t trust us yet, just ask Eliot Dalton, the industry’s best B&B business consultant and broker!
3. Your Site Does Not Talk Directly to the 2020 Guest and Beyond
This year has been a very unsettling time for many people across the globe. This has led to a whole new dynamic in the hospitality industry, and now, more than ever, it’s extremely important to be sensitive to the current tone of public sentiment. Not only should you be cautious of how you communicate with guests on your website, but you need to implement these following things to give your guests confidence to book.
- It’s important to have COVID-friendly images and verbiage implemented on your entire site. Things like food service and cleaning policies have changed drastically and it’s important to show guests how you are going to help keep them safe.
- Focus on your demographics and inclusion with properly displayed photographs. Many people will not book unless they feel that all are represented. This is especially true for wedding venues and inns who are targeting a younger guest.
- Consumers are very interested in privacy and seclusion. Your site should highlight all of the things consumers are looking for, including private entries, self check-in, outdoor areas and more.
- Communication with guests and customers is essential to build trust in your guests. Having a WordPress site, which is easily editable, allows you to update your message instantly – no waiting on slow-responding webmasters.
- Travelers want to know what the current status of your area is like. You should have an area guide page, blog page or coronavirus page dedicated to conveying what is open, including current laws and local restrictions. Transparency is key to getting bookings, and keeping guests happy, in order to get those important five-star guest reviews.
4. Your Site is Over 3 Years Old
Because of the ever-changing online world, it’s extremely important to get a new website every 3-4 years. With technology capabilities and user behavior evolving at record speeds, it’s crucial to stay at the front of the pack. Here are a few things that need to be addressed:
- Retina images and larger screens have changed the scope of website design. You must make sure that your photos are as impressive as your property.
- New regulations and requirements are constantly being applied to websites, which must now include ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance. You must be sure to include all users and avoid lawsuits.
- Many people are now using their mobile phones first to search the internet and then often go to their desktop later to actually purchase or book. White Stone’s websites are fully responsive, to ensure a positive user experience on all digital devices.
- Do you have links that go nowhere, bad gateways, pages that no longer exist? All of these can frustrate users and reduce your ranking.
- Does your website play well with all of the current browsers? User preferences change, and you’ve got to keep up – remember when Internet Explorer was a thing?!
- Even if you think your business is doing well, and your site is “good enough,” there may be room for improvement. We have seen an updated website increase revenue for our clients time and time again – just check out our case studies.
- The ways that websites are being indexed and ranked is constantly changing, which leads us to our fifth and final reason.
5. Your Site’s Not Ready for the Impending Changes at Google
This is probably the most important one – and will be happening in just over six months! Google recently announced an updated ranking system called the Google Page Experience, which will go into effect in 2021. With this update, Google will begin ranking sites based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with your website. What this means is, if Google thinks your website users will have a poor experience on your web pages, Google will rank you much lower and potential guests will not find you.
A few of the metrics they will be taking into account will be:
- Visual Stability
- Loading Performance
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Safe Browsing HTTPS
- Page Speed
- Rich and Relative Content
They did not announce exactly when this will go into effect in 2021, but did say they are giving six months’ notice before it goes live, to give everyone time to be ready. Contact the experts at White Stone Marketing to see if your website is ready!
So, What Can White Stone Do for You?
If you think your property may be ready for a new website, the hospitality website design experts at White Stone Marketing can create the perfect online presence for your business! Here are a few things you should know about us!
- We will showcase your property in the best light, update your images and verbiage to be more 2020 friendly, and get you ready for the impending changes at Google.
- We can connect you to other industry professionals, like master photographers, PR geniuses, copywriters, and more to help further grow your business.
- With a website designed specifically for your audience, you’ll start to see results for your wedding venue, event center, bed and breakfast or boutique hotel almost immediately after launch.
- We offer payment plans to make your path to success easier.
- We have affordable options for small properties. Cover the basics within your budget, then expand your website as your profits increase, to push them even higher.
- We can take you from design to “the dream” with help from our marketing experts. We offer a variety of marketing plans specifically for inns and event venues, from guided group marketing at White Stone 101, to full-service consulting and promotion.
- We can offer you a FREE review of your current website with our Diamond Report. We’ll let you know if your website is making the grade, or if you need to improve. We encourage every hospitality professional to take advantage of this complimentary service.
White Stone Marketing knows what’s needed to make an impactful and lasting online impression! Let us help you succeed. Contact our seasoned professionals now to wow your potential guests and customers, and claim your place on the first page of search results!