Successful accommodation businesses will expect to receive up to a third of their online bookings via their own website… It is therefore very important for an accommodation business to be present and highly visible on the internet with their own website, and for that website to provide direct online booking! Why?
- A website increases visibility and reach on the internet
- Your guests can find you quickly and easily
- Guests get a first impression of their accommodation
- Any booking you receive directly through your website will save you money
But what is important for a successful accommodation website? Some key guidelines are here:
A beautiful website does not do anything if guests cannot find it! But standing out from the crowd on the internet is, of course, a challenge. Technical factors also play a major role here:
- Speaking domain: Your domain (the so-called Internet address) should be clearly understandable and should contain the most important terms or keywords that designate your accommodation. Also think about the logical ending of the domain – for an Austrian business this should ideally be .at, whereas for a German business it should be .de, and for a UK business it should be .co.uk or .com.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is about designing a website so that search engines such as Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo list the the site as high as possible in the search results. This is what Google does when your website matches the search criteria of your guests – the organic results of a search are ranked based on matches provided by the algorithm and databases of the search engine. A distinction can be made between “on-page optimization” (settings that can be made on your own website) and “off-page optimization” (factors that are important outside of your own website).
- On-page optimization includes the content of your website that you can design yourself. It is important to pay attention to so-called “keywords” – those terms and phrases that your guests are looking for and expect to find on your website. You can sprinkle such terms into titles, subtitles, text and metadata – in different variations, regularly and meaningfully, and in context.
- Off-page optimization can include things like other web pages that point to your website pages, and reinforce their relevance in the wider map of the internet that the search engines build and store in their databases. This can be thought of as link building, and by building these partnerships with other well regarded websites in your area of interest, e.g. local tourism websites, this can improve your ranking in search engine search results.
- Indexing: Before a search engine can rate and rank your website, it must go through an indexing process. The content is scanned and recorded in a database. For this, you or your web designer must create a so-called “sitemap”, this is a webpage that is like a table of contents of your website.
- Accessibility: This means that your website content should be easily accessible. Make sure your website is always operational. These include; consistent server performance, short load times for pages and barrier-free access to the pages your website.
Webdesign & Usability
As soon as guests visit your website they will get a “first impression” of your accommodation business. This means it is especially important to convince the visitor and potential guest to continue on your website! How do you do that? With appealing design and intuitive usability!
- Standards of web design: This includes clear forms, a simple design/layout, and enough space between individual elements so that the website does not seem overloaded and cluttered. In general, you should choose a harmonious colour scheme and for viewing on screen use appropriate fonts without serifs (the fancy swirls and ends!).
- Responsiveness: We now do more than half of everyday interactions with websites with our smartphones. More and more guests search and book accommodation through their mobiles! As a business you need to make sure that your website can be easily used by all devices – whether computer, tablet or smartphone. You should give your guests the ability to see all relevant information about your accommodation and book online directly, whatever device they are using, and wherever and whenever they are wanting to do it.
- Target group orientation: When designing your website, you should primarily think of your target group, i.e. your guests! How advanced are they with internet use? Will they find it easy to handle special functions on a website, or will they need very simple steps? What expectations will these guests have for your accommodation website? What information will they be looking for?
- Navigation: Make sure your guests can quickly navigate your website, and can find exactly what they are looking for in just a few clicks. As a tip: users should be able to get to their desired information with only 3 clicks! What your guests will not have is patience – so make it easy for them to succeed.
- Authenticity & consistency: Using a consistent style and consistent elements across the pages of your website will create trust and recognition with your guests – it shows both thought and professionalism.
- Picture language: Pictures awaken emotions. This is what you want to achieve with your guests: enthusiasm, anticipation, happiness. Our brain only takes a few milliseconds to process an image, so design your website with meaningful images. The quality of the pictures that you use is crucial: pay attention to the resolution of the pictures, the impression that you want to give is high quality, and not “pixelated”. However also beware that large image filesizes can lead to longer webpage loading times, which should be avoided.
- Data Entry: You want your guests to book online with you? Then make it as easy as possible for them and provide this on your website with an intuitive online booking engine that has easy to use data entry forms. However this must not contain poor quality or confusing content!
If people are going to spend their time on a website, then they will want and need to experience added value. But what do your guests wish for?
- Relevance: Do you know what your guests are looking for? Do they want price information? Do they want to know more about you as a landlord and your accommodation business? Do they want to hear the latest news from your area? Offer your guests on your website exactly what they are looking for and make it as easy as possible to find.
- Comprehensibility: You deal on a daily basis with tourism terms and language – but your guests will probably not. So convey information in simple and easy-to-understand language.
- Different content: Your guests want variety, and so do the search engines – so avoid repetitive content! This will downgrade your website in the search engine rankings and at worst you can even be punished for using shared or identical content. So to avoid this, generate individual content for each of your webpages, and do not just copy the same text across all subpages.
- Regular updates: Your content should be kept up to date! Price lists and newsletters from 2014? No thanks! Update the content of your website regularly. One thing you can do to help with this is to set up a recurring appointment reminder, which reminds you each month to check your website for accurate and timely information, and revise it if necessary.
Call to Action
When your guests have found what they are looking for on your website, then they should of course take action. But you also have to give them the chance. A so-called “call-to-action” provides users with the option to take action. Place appropriate calls on your website as a button, link, or clickable item and make it clear to your potential guests that you have e.g. “Book Here” or “Request More Information”.
- “Sign Up” for your newsletter
- Social Shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Download Brochure (with up to date information!)
- “Check Availability”
- “Book Now”
Since 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation has become a pan-European law governing the collection, use and storage of personal data. GDPR/DSGVO affects every company – including you as host/landlord – that collects and processes personal data. More information can be found in our blog “GDPR/DSGVO for landlords”.
In order for websites to be GDPR/DSGVO compliant, the following points must be fulfilled:
- Leading accurate, understandable & transparent privacy policies on the website.
- Information about the use of social media plug-ins.
- Opt-in procedure for approval, i.e. checkboxes may not be pre-filled but must be actively selected to indicate approval.
- Data capture forms such as contact forms may contain only limited mandatory fields.
In order to best support our customers with regard to GDPR, we offer various service packages. If you are interested please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Accommodation business websites from easybooking
A website for an accommodation business is not a static thing! It will change, just as your offers change as a host. But do not worry: we will gladly help you with the entire process, from design to implementation to ongoing support and maintenance! easybooking offers accommodation business websites that meet all requirements; from contemporary design, to search engine optimization and GDPR/DSGVO compliance. Easy to maintain, and nice to look at! More information about easybooking websites and a preview of the easybooking template designs is available online.
Do you want a successful accommodation business website from easybooking? Find out more and request your non-binding offer now at email@example.com