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Five things your hotel website must do to reach & win today’s connected customers

Think about this: What is the purpose of your hotel's website?

Yes, your website can help build your brand, increase awareness of amenities or give customers opportunities to book special events. But its first and foremost purpose is to drive bookings – to give future guests the opportunity to see your rates and book your rooms as easily as possible, no matter which device they may be using.

Here at Sabre Hospitality, we've got unique insight into how travelers are shopping. We process over three billion CRS shopping transactions per month, helping produce over USD$10 billion in revenue for over 20,000 hotels worldwide. But we're not stopping there: our teams constantly research how people shop for hotels, collecting data on transactions, abandonment rates and the overall digital experience.

Here we are summarizing some of our findings to help your hotel website obtain the best results:

1. Make shopping seamless across devices, from mobile to desktop. In our recent Future of Hotel Booking report, we showed how more and more customers are using multiple devices to shop for and book hotels. It's become common for customers to start shopping on a mobile phone and come back to finish the transaction on a laptop or tablet later.

Is your website fully responsive – detecting which device a customer is using and delivering a top-quality experience across platforms? Most web designers and website hosts allow firms to create a "mobile version" of their site, but these can be problematic, and may not offer the full content of the desktop site. If you offer a separate mobile version, is yours easy to navigate? Does it match the look and feel of the PC shopping experience?

2. Keep your content vibrant & up-to-date

Little errors can turn into big annoyances for customers when what they see on your site isn't what they find at check-in. How regularly do you update the photos on your website? How often do you or your team review content to make sure it is accurate – not just room descriptions and photos, but hours for hotel restaurants, spas, pools and other amenities? Make sure your hotel has a procedure in place to review the site regularly and update it promptly, whenever guest services, policies or amenities change.

3. Have an up-to-date SEO strategy that's optimized for mobile

Speaking of staying current, if it's been more than a year since you evaluated your SEO strategy, you're probably missing out on opportunities – and leaving money on the table.

Just like the hotel guests you're trying to reach, search engine providers are getting smarter and adapting to new technologies. Earlier this year, Google reported that searches from mobile devices had overtaken desktop searches in many countries. In response, Google and other search providers are changing how they rank results to favor mobile sites that work well across devices. If your site's code isn't optimized for mobile – for instance, by including mobile URL information in your sitemap - you could be losing ground in search results.

4. Be sure Social Media integrates well with your website

It's no longer enough to ask guests to "Like" your page on Facebook. Unless your hotel's social media properties are generating engaging content on a regular basis, they don't offer value to potential users – and they won't drive customers to your website.

If you integrate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms into your website, be sure you're also creating interesting content that's consistent to the messaging on your website. Make sure your marketing staff is tracking not only engagements (likes, shares, +1's and so forth), but also thinking about content that people will want to engage with – and maintaining a schedule that ensures potential guests will always see the latest and most exciting goings-on at your property and in your community.

5. Use analytics to understand who's looking and who's booking

It's not enough to just have Google Analytics (or another solution, such as HubSpot or Mint) working for your website. Your site needs to be updated to implement the latest technology – which, for Google, means using Universal Analytics. If not, then you're missing out on a potential wealth of insight. For Google Analytics, this includes demographic information, such as breakdowns of revenue and conversion rates by geographic location.

Many companies' websites are designed by people who aren't hospitality-industry experts. Our hospitality digital experts at Sabre Hospitality have created a specialized, quick-to-launch solution, SynXis InstaSite, which allows hotels and chains to rapidly deploy a new website that's optimized across platforms and which incorporates the best and latest analytics and reporting features. With support for 13 languages, InstaSite also integrates seamlessly with the SynXis Booking Engine and SynXis Central Reservations.

Click here to learn more about how your hotel can benefit from these – and other – digital experience best practices. If you're already a Sabre customer, contact your Account Manager for additional information.

Kelsey Slater
Optimization Analyst, Digital Marketing Services
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