Best Practices for Your Hotel Website Content

By Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CRME, CHBA, founder of Sassato LLC, and Holly Zoba, CHDM, founder of Scout Simply

With the pandemic only underscoring the importance of an attractive, engaging hotel website, it’s a good time to remind yourself of some of the basics — such as good content. Content should be written, first and foremost, with the customer in mind. The hotel should be positioned appropriately with the top-selling features and informative descriptions of the hotel and its services. What you write matters as much as any keywords you use.

You and your brand may have invested a lot of time, effort, and budget into driving traffic to your website. Now that you have a possible customer on your website, it’s time to effectively market to them and convince them that your hotel is the best choice for their trip.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important for your hotel website and will have an impact on your textual content and metadata. Therefore, striking a strong balance between the use of content for marketing and SEO is very important.

When creating content, it is also important to understand why the customer is considering your hotel and, thus, how you should market to them. There are significant differences, for example, between a city center hotel, an airport hotel, and a resort hotel. Each has a different audience, a different reason for “being” (trip purpose), and various amenities and services. Your content should best relate to those differences and speak in the appropriate “voice,” allowing visitors to quickly understand who and what you are — and what impression you wish to give of your hotel.

Make sure your website reflects the reasons why consumers travel to you or your area. One way to approach this is to think of your website in terms of how a director of sales (DOS) markets the hotel. Does your website reflect the demand generators that bring customers to your area? Are you appropriately featuring proximity to local attractions, amusement parks, stadiums, etc.? Are you a venue for weddings, family reunions, etc.?

Conduct an annual update of customer segmentation optimization to fully address all key segments, from meeting and group planners to corporate and leisure travelers, social event planners, and family travel planners.

KEEP IT BRIEF

As you write copy, keep in mind that web copy is very different than print copy. Web copy is “scanned” or glanced through, not “read” in the traditional sense. This is even more true on mobile platforms, which have become the leading source of online traffic and where visitors have much shorter attention spans. Most consumers will not read your website content word for word but look for appropriate keywords or phrases.

Ensure that all text relays important features and selling points quickly and upfront. Avoid

long lists and overly promotional content that visitors won’t read. Content should be easily scannable, and paragraphs and sentences kept short and concise so visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly.

Your most important points should always come first, whether written in paragraph format, bulleted lists, or icons (for branded hotels, the formatting is typically pre-determined at the brand-level template).

It is best to avoid needless repetition, jargon, and unnecessary words in your copy — keep it as simple as possible. Effective online copywriting is an art, so some properties will hire professional copywriters or vendors to handle this area for them. Check first with your brand to see if they have any internal services or vendor recommendations.

KEEP IT FRESH

The “freshness” of your content is extremely important, from both marketing and SEO perspectives. All content areas should be up-to-date and include the latest information on the hotel itself, new services and amenities, and the most recent local area content. Not only is this important from a consumer perspective, but it is also extremely important from an SEO perspective. Google and other search engines weigh the “freshness” of content in their ranking algorithms.

All promotional or event dates should be constantly updated (e.g., is your website still promoting a New Year’s Eve event in February?). For SEO, it can be important to keep the addition of new content at a steady pace, keeping your site dynamic and continuously offering fresh content when and where possible. Consider updating key pages (those pages with the highest visitor view rates) at least once or twice a year. For sites that include customer reviews, the constant addition of reviews helps in this area as it is technically new content.

It is important to have proper room descriptions as these will help drive conversion and  upselling efforts around premium room types.

In summary, is your website offering what your potential customers are looking for? Is it current? Can they find it quickly?

Excerpted from Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape, Sixth Edition, by Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CRME, CHBA, and Holly Zoba, CHDM — the study guide for the Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) certification – available soon from HSMAI.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Delta Variant Setting Off Alarm Bells for Travel Industry | Longwoods

Turning the corner into the latter part of the summer travel season, we see the delta variant having a significant impact on several key Travel Sentiment Indicators and taking us back to levels not seen since April, reports Longwoods International CEO Amir Eylon. See more of his analysis for HSMAI of their latest customer research:

 

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With Hospitality Demand Returning, Research From HSMAI and ZS Points the Way Forward

HSMAI and ZS recently interviewed sales leaders at leading hospitality companies from around the world. While COVID-19 presented unparalleled challenges, they said it also pushed them to truly think outside the box and adopt novel strategies and approaches they can leverage in the future as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

The key takeaways? Hospitality companies that remain flexible, keep their sales and support teams agile and maintain cross-functional collaboration best position themselves for success. They also must continue to lead with the empathy, transparency and frequent communication with their customers and employees that kept these communities connected during the crisis.

Read more about the findings in this ZS blog post: Hospitality demand is returning: Now what?

“The candid and unique perspectives that the heads of sales at 16 of the largest global hospitality brands shared with us provided fascinating insights into not only how their organizations navigated through the pandemic,” said Kunal Shah, associate principal at ZS, “but also how they plan to stay agile and adapt as the business travel landscape continues to morph going forward.”

Hospitality company leaders learned a lot about travelers and their teams as they navigated COVID-19. How well they retain that knowledge and evolve their ways of working—rather than rebuilding what existed before—will prove to be critical and a key differentiator. When the next inevitable industry crisis emerges, these ways of working will help weather that storm, too.

“HSMAI was delighted to collaborate with ZS for this unique assessment of the impact of the hospitality crises on the hotel sales enterprises,” said Bob Gilbert, president & CEO at HSMAI. “We look forward to additional research that will provide the hospitality industry valuable insights about sales force design, incentive compensation and other motivation practices.”

Learn more about our research on ZS.com.

Fear of Delta Variant Impacting Some Travel Plans

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, a quarter are postponing travel because of the recent increased spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. “We may be approaching a new pandemic tipping point, in the battle between the more transmissible Delta variant and the power of vaccinations to prevent or at least lessen the
impact of infections,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International, who provides additional insights for HSMAI:

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HSMAI SPECIAL REPORT: Hospitality Successes During the Pandemic Year

When the pandemic forced hotel companies to change everything about how they do business, HSMAI knew we needed to do the same thing. We started with our Adrian Awards program, which every year honors creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations. For the 2020 Adrian Awards — presented with Signature Partner MMGY Global and Supporting Partners Panzano + Partners and WorkerBee.TV — we created four new focus categories to recognize the resilience that the industry demonstrated in response to COVID: corporate social responsibility, crisis communications and management, recovery strategies, and talent and leadership development, with that last category being an HSMAI Foundation Honor. Made possible with the support of our Organizational Member companies, this HSMAI Special Report profiles the Best Practice Gold honorees in these four focus categories.

The New RMS: A Buying Guide

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and Revenue Analytics present The New RMS: A Buying Guide, a new white paper that explores modern hotel revenue management systems, including how they have evolved — and how they need to evolve — in the aftermath of the pandemic that has seriously disrupted the hospitality industry.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Uneven Progression, But Recovery Nonetheless | ADARA

Hotel bookings are on the rise. While we’re still not back to normal for seasonally adjusted bookings or cumulative bookings, the pace of hotel bookings for leisure travel has begun to rise above pre-pandemic levels. Business bookings continue to pick-up reaching as high as only 10% off the index earlier in May. For hoteliers and destination marketing organizations, this trend is exactly what they’ve been hoping to see, ADARA reports for HSMAI.

Read the latest: ADARA HOTEL TRENDS – MAY 2021

HSMAI SPECIAL REPORT: 2020 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization

HSMAI’s Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization are always just that: extraordinary. But our most recent class of honorees is something else. Presented with IDeaS, a SAS company — our Top 25 Program Partner — the Top 25 recognizes leaders in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months. The profiles of all of them in this HSMAI Special Report — made possible with the support of HSMAI Organizational Member companies — show that their efforts on behalf of their guests, clients, and team members are not just extraordinary but inspirational.

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HSMAI Customer Insight: Travelers Both Optimistic and Cautious | Longwoods International

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 88% of them now have travel plans in the next six months, the highest level in more than a year.  However, less than a third of them are likely to visit a tourism attraction or business which does not have clear COVID safety protocols, such as mask requirements and social distancing, in place. “It’s obvious from the data that Americans are ready to travel again, but only if they believe they can do safely,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International. Hear his observations for HSMAI:

 

Full Report: COVID-19 Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 34: Travelers Both Optimistic and Cautious

Hotel HR Responses to the Pandemic

While 2020 was a difficult year for the hospitality industry, one of the bright spots was the manner in which human resources (HR) professionals responded to the many unanticipated and still-evolving challenges associated with the pandemic. During a series of executive roundtables that the HSMAI Foundation organized in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, hotel HR leaders shared the strategies and practices they have implemented in response to the talent crisis that COVID 19 has triggered throughout the industry. While their initial efforts centered on retrenchment and building resilience, gradually they shifted to identifying new solutions for attracting.

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