Listing your property with OTAs like Booking.com is a key part of establishing an online presence, but it’s only part of the equation. If you don’t also have a dedicated website showcasing your property you may be missing out on bookings.
The truth is a dedicated website as part of your online presence provides three benefits that other channels can’t.
Three reasons you need a website for your property
- Even if people discover your property on an OTA like Booking.com, we’ve found that many travellers will take their search one step further. They’ll often search their favourite search engine for your property’s own website to confirm what they’ve read and make sure it’s really as good as it seems. If they don’t find a good dedicated website for your property, they may have second thoughts and go with a competitor.
- OTAs are great for comparing properties by price, location, and amenities, but a stand-alone site is better at really inspiring travellers. You have unlimited space to tell the story about your property and share pictures and guest feedback, away from any distractions.
- A website gives you a place you control that you can send people to from emails, social media and even printed materials. If someone is researching a trip, letting them share a link to your website with their travel partner will show your property in its best light.
Of course, having just any website isn’t enough. You need a website that’s designed to be effective at getting you more bookings. Here’s what it needs:
Five features your property website needs
OK, so you need a website, but what kind of site do you need? Accommodation websites have specific requirements that make them different from other types of sites. Obviously a website for a two-room B&B will look different than a budget motel chain, but whatever kind of accommodation you have there are 5 key features that every property website needs.
1. A professional design
Your website may be the first and only impression of your property. If the website looks like you’ve cut corners or don’t care about the details, it can send the wrong message to potential guests. The website design has to have a connection to your property: Are you an exclusive villa with high-end design and antiques? You’ll need a different design approach than a rustic cabin in the forest.
2. Ability to accept direct bookings
If you’re only accepting direct reservations by email or telephone, you risk letting guests slip away if they can’t get hold of you right away (along with increasing the chance of overbooking). Web surfers can be fickle: If your site has managed to convince them that they will have a great experience by staying with you, make sure they can easily book a room and get immediate confirmation. You don’t want to risk having to send them to another website – or wait until the next day – to actually book.
3. A mobile-friendly design
More and more travellers are using their mobile phones to research and book their travel, especially accommodations. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly your property will be out of the running right from the start. Mobile-friendly means making it easy to not only research your property, but to actually complete the booking while on mobile, without having to switch to a laptop computer. If you force them to switch computers, it’s easier for them to switch to a mobile-friendly competitor!
4. Easy to use (without giving up control)
Not only does your website need to be easy for your potential guests to use. It also has to be easy for you to update, too! Adding new photos to your website should be as easy as uploading a new photo to your Facebook page. Make sure you’ll have the freedom to update the site as often as you need and that you can add as many pages and photos as you want – without being charged extra fees by a web designer or agency or waiting weeks for someone else to do it for you.
5. True international capabilities
It gets easier and easier to explore the world. But as adventurous as your guests may be in trying new cuisines or attempting new languages, when it comes to booking their trips – and sharing their credit card information – they want the comfort of completing the transaction in their own language and a familiar currency. So make sure your site can be used by an international audience. The higher number of people who can easily use your site, the bigger the pool of potential guests. So your site needs to be available in a range of languages (and your booking engine in several currencies).
As important as having a website for your hotel or property is, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time worrying about it once it’s up and running. You should be able to make updates in minutes and then get back to focusing on your guests. After all, you want to focus on hosting guests, not hosting a website.