It’s time to kick the old Frommer’s guides and outdated maps to the curb and start using your hotel standalone website as a one-stop shop for guests seeking area info. They already skimmed through your website while searching for hotels in the area and then booked a room online. Now, start positioning the site as a helpful tool for the guest to reference while staying at the hotel.
Hoteliers may look at a standalone site as a booking engine, where a YOY increase in revenue is the only good news to come from an online marketer’s mouth. However, I challenge you to exceed guest expectations by using your standalone site as a tool for guest satisfaction during their stay. From identifying points of interest within the hotel to explaining local transportation and highlighting nearby events, you can transform your hotel’s website into an experience engine guests can use throughout their stay.
How To Rethink Your Website Content
Beyond making tweaks and updates to the site that are valuable from an SEO standpoint, begin thinking about the kind of content that your guests will find useful and actually want to read. Valuable information to feature on your standalone site includes:
- Area Attractions & Local Events: I always highly suggest building out a comprehensive Things to Do page on hotel websites. From a marketing standpoint, not only will your keyword strategy benefit from these area guide pages, but a Things to Do page will also allow your property to better connect with local partners and guests. From area attractions to shopping and entertainment, there is always something nearby that can pique guests’ interests before and during their stay. Perhaps you have crafted a detailed landing page about the best Honky-Tonk bars nearby with your expert insider tips. Transform what was perhaps initially intended only for search engine performance into something valuable for guests by leaving the page up on an iPad at the front desk.
Do your guests need a BART route map while in the San Francisco Bay area? They can easily find a public transit map on your standalone site that also marks your hotel’s location. If your site’s layout is mobile optimized, they will have an easy-to-use map at their fingertips throughout their stay.
Your guests will appreciate your team’s insider knowledge. Make sure the front desk staff and concierge are aware of what is available on the website so that they can point out the information available to a guest on-the-go versus sifting through a pile of flyers and maps.
- Local Partnerships: Are you closely aligned with local organizations and attractions that guests may be interested in during their travels? Your guests will find it useful to be able to book tickets to these partnering attractions right on your hotel’s site. As a hotelier, you likely receive discounts or complimentary tickets to some area sites that you can offer to guests exclusively on your website. I suggest crafting a page–possibly an expansion of the Things to Do page–on your standalone site that asks guest to inquire directly on your site about these local activities. Direct guests to contact your sales staff or concierge desk when booking a limo for a bachelorette party, a day trip to a nearby vineyard, or spa services. This content is not only helpful as guests book their stay, but also during their stay as they make last minute local arrangements.
- Blog: As a content marketer, I love to encourage hoteliers to effectively use blogs as part of their website. Not only can an active blog improve your search engine rankings, but it can also provide great resources and insider secrets for guests. Did you recently write a blog post highlighting your hotel’s green initiatives? Why not direct your guests to this blog article during their stay rather than printing out an extra piece of paper to include this information. A window vinyl with a QR code, green emblem, and “We’ve gone green!” statement could be a great way to direct guests to this fresh, unique information on the site.
- Social Media: Are your social media icons and feeds easily visible on your site? Effectively displaying these social channels on the site will encourage guests to connect with the hotel online before and during their visit. Your tweets and daily Facebook posts now have another channel by which to reach your guests. Set the homepage on your business center computers to default to the page on the standalone site where guests can find the Twitter feed running. Broadcasting your social feeds on-site is a simple way to get the information noticed and will motivate guests to check-in or post about the hotel on their own social media channels.
- Full-Service Amenities: Standalone hotel websites allow hoteliers to highlight full-service amenities more than a standard brand site ever could. Properly reviewing all of the hotel’s amenities is an important facet of your guest’s journey as they book online, but these dedicated website components can also come in handy during their stay. Eliminate the need for random flyers highlighting special deals and events, and add all relevant information to your standalone site. This way, guests are led to one spot online as they search for dining deals or determine what spa services they want to book. Keep guests and locals coming back to your property by frequently posting special dishes, events, and exclusive deals.
- Newsletter: Someone on your staff may already be combining local events, discounts, and employee highlights into a newsletter on a monthly basis. Make sure this newsletter is refreshed on the website each month. Then, post your newsletter in the lobby or elevator to provide guests with reading material. Include a QR code on the page so that they may continue reading and revisit the page later on during their stay.
I hope you have accepted my challenge to think of your standalone site as more than a booking engine. At Blue Magnet, we always tell hoteliers that a user-friendly and informative website can maximize the hotel’s online presence and help the hotel act as a “local concierge” for guests. With the aforementioned ideas for content and on-property website promotion in mind, it is time to squeeze all of the value out of your hotel’s standalone website!