When Catharina Tengwall’s boss decided to add a commercial aparthotel to his portfolio of residential apartments, she knew the key to success in the accommodation business would be to embrace change – and technology.
“I’m eager to learn. I have an open mind,” she says.
Today, Catharina is the reservations manager at Hotel Torslanda Studios, a 36-unit aparthotel outside Gothenburg, Sweden. With car maker Volvo’s headquarters just a few kilometres away, the hotel attracts lots of business travellers through online channels like Booking.com.
However, Catharina had less success through the property’s original website because it was just a small section of the residential property management company’s overall website. So it was hard for guests to find Hotel Torslanda online – and there was no way for them to make a direct reservation.
“It didn’t generate any bookings at all – I had maybe two or three requests over one-and-a-half years,” Catharina explains.
The old website also lacked the user-friendly finesse and customisable content that you get with a professionally designed website. “It’s a lot nicer to have a website where you can choose the colours and so on, to give it a nice look,” she adds. So, Catharina sought out another solution. “I checked a few other tools like WordPress, but it seemed very complicated,” she says.
That’s where WebDirect came in. After being impressed by another property’s site that used the site-building platform, Catharina made a business case for creating a dedicated website for Hotel Torslanda Studios. Both felt it was worth the low commission cost, given how easy WebDirect was to set up and use.
“Maybe the greatest surprise was that it was that easy,” Catharina recalls. “I couldn’t imagine it was so easy to make a website.”
After a quick initial set-up that pulled content from the hotel’s existing Booking.com profile, Catharina added her own touches. She listed local landmarks and chose additional languages to attract a broader segment of guests to her new website.
“You can publish it immediately, and everything goes online as soon as you do that. It’s really easy to get around if you’re a beginner as I am,” she says.
Not only was Hotel Torslanda’s new website easy for her to use, its new design and functionality also made for a much better experience for prospective guests.
“It’s easy to get around if you’re a guest looking for answers – you can easily find them. And that’s how a website should be,” she says.
Having become a website wizard overnight, Catharina’s already planning her next move – mastering social media. She’s started an Instagram account for the hotel, and plans to connect it with the new website to boost her online presence.
“We’re quite new in the hotel business. We’re trying to take small steps everyday,” Catharina says. “It’s changing all the time, and we have to be on our toes.”