To boost property awareness and connect with new travelers who have never stayed with you before, you need to have an online presence — in many cases a website. To get people to actually book reservations with you though, simply having a place for online visitors to land isn’t enough. In order to successfully convince people to choose your property over others, your website has to be built, updated, and managed with conversion in mind.

So what makes website visitors convert, and what makes them leave for another option? I’ve written plenty of blog posts that focus on the former (i.e. what to do right on your website), but not as many focus on the latter.

In this post, I’d like to dive into what prevents travelers from booking online reservations by highlighting 6 common mistakes I see managers make when it comes to their websites:

Mistake #1: Not Helping Visitors Understand What Makes Your Resort Different

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when building your website is to neglect including content that helps visitors understand what makes your property different.

Most marketing managers have figured out what you already know, which is that you need a website to attract new visitors and drive more bookings. But not as many understand how to effectively use their website as a tool to differentiate from other local competitors. As a result, a lot of resort websites end up looking the same to travelers.

This can be a big problem when it comes to being able to successfully convince people to book reservations through your website. If your website looks like all the other websites in your geographic area, what would make someone ultimately pick yours over the rest?

To help your website visitors recognize what makes you different or unique, focus on implementing the following tips:

  • Put your biggest selling points front and center. Spend some time thinking about your biggest value propositions. Ask yourself questions such as, what is it that makes your property unique? Why do people stay at your property over others? What do you have that other local competitors don’t? Once you have your answers, incorporate these selling points into your homepage headings, copy, and feature photos. Be as specific as possible so that guests can quickly identify within a few seconds of landing on your website what makes your resort special.
  • Avoid using stock photography. If you haven’t already, hire a photographer and some models to take high-quality photos of your property that you can use on your website. Avoid using stereotypical stock photos and close-up shots of people smiling, relaxing, or eating food. Travelers want to see your property for what it is. Genuine photos that humanize your experience can help build trust and keep them from leaving your website in search of a property that offers more authenticity.
  • Make an actual list for visitors to go through. Create a section on your homepage or create an entirely separate page on your website that helps visitors easily understand what makes you different. Incorporate photos, testimonials from guests, bulleted lists, and other blurbs that make it easy for people to recognize the unique aspects and perks that you have to offer.
  • Let your past guests do the talking for you. Include videos, photos, and written testimonials from past guests that help you illustrate the main selling points of your property. For example, if you consider yourself the perfect place for families to stay, find a review from a guest that focuses on the experience they had as a family. If you offer specific amenities that help you differentiate from competitors, find a review from a guest that highlights those amenities for you.

Remember: Your goal isn’t to build a website that looks good (or one that looks as good as other properties in your area). Your primary goal is to build a website that drives conversions.

Mistake #2: Too Many Conflicting CTAs

Another big mistake that I see on a lot of websites is too many competing call-to-action statements, links, and buttons on the homepage.

When building or updating a website, the best thing you can do is keep things as simple and easy for visitors as possible. You want to provide visitors with the information they need to evaluate your property and decide if it’s right for them, but your ultimate goal is to drive them toward the booking section of your website as fast as possible.

Here are some ways to drive that desired action from your website visitors in less time:

  • Place one primary CTA button in the navigation section of your website. To make your reservation call-to-action incredibly clear and easy to find, place a button within the navigation menu that shows up on all pages.
  • Choose your website and graphic colors wisely. Keep the colors on your homepage relatively simple—don’t use more than 2-3 colors. Stay consistent with the rest of your branding. Use a bright, distinguishable color for the CTA button you place in the navigation area of your website.
  • Be consistent with your CTA messaging. Use similar words and phrases when directing people to your reservations section. Make it easy for visitors to understand what they need to do and where they need to go to check availability and book a stay.
  • Keep your homepage simple. Don’t go overboard with your homepage. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Doing so will help with load times, and ensure that your site can successfully load across any device.

Remember: Your job is to make it easy for your website visitors to understand how to take action.

Mistake #3: Low-Quality Photos & Graphics

Using low-quality photos and graphics is another mistake I see property managers making on their websites. Because you’re using your website as a tool to interact with people who have never visited before, it’s important to start building trust with them from the second they land on your website for the first time.

Using high-quality photos and professional graphics can go a long way in helping visitors overcome any objections or hesitations they might have about booking a stay with you.

Travelers want to feel confident that they’re booking reservations at a professional, clean property. To drive them toward taking action, implement these tips:

  • Hire professionals. If you don’t already have them on your team, hire professional photographers and graphic designers to help you create high-quality content for your website.
  • Stay consistent with your visuals. Make sure that the images and graphics you’re placing on your website align with the actual look and feel of your property. Don’t unintentionally create the wrong expectations by using photos that don’t accurately represent your brand.
  • Test different types of media. Use video, interactive tours, and slideshows on your website to show website visitors what they can expect when they stay with you.

Remember: The key is to use visuals to tell stories, build trust, and leave nothing to the imagination.

Mistake #4: Your Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

These days, you can’t have a website that doesn’t load on all types of devices—computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing out on awareness, traffic, and online reservations.

Consider these statistics on the growing usage of smart devices and the internet in the U.S.:

  • 77% of all Americans now own a smartphone—that number was just 35% in 2011.
  • Nearly eight-in-ten U.S. adults now own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly half now own tablet computers and around one-in-five own e-reader devices.
  • Overall, 73% of Americans go online on a daily basis. Along with the 21% who go online almost constantly, 42% go online several times a day and 10% go online about once a day.
  • 65% of same day hotel reservations are made from a smartphone.
  • 168M travel bookings are made on the internet each year.

To find out if your website is mobile-friendly, use this tool from Google. It will analyze your website and identify any issues that need to be addressed and fixed in order for online users to access your website from their smartphones or tablet devices.

Need help building a website that loads correctly on mobile devices? We can help.

Mistake #5: Not Keeping Information Up-to-Date

Keeping inaccurate or out-of-date information on your website is another costly mistake that can impact conversions. When you don’t take the time to keep information up-to-date, it’s much harder to gain the trust of the people who are trying to decide whether or not to book a stay.

To build trust and persuade visitors to book an online reservation through your website, make sure the following is up-to-date:

  • Contact information. Make sure you’re displaying the right phone number and email addresses.
  • Links. Make sure all the hyperlinks on your website send visitors to pages that still load. Eliminate any dead links.
  • Photos. Change or update photos depending on the season or any changes that may have recently been made at your property.
  • Blog Posts. Don’t let your blog go stale on your website. Show visitors that you’re still actively providing relevant information and that you’re still willing to engage with them.
  • Weather and directions. Keep interactive weather and map widgets intact on your website. Check periodically to make sure they don’t break or need to be updated.

Remember: Again, the key is trust. Showing online visitors that you’re actively involved in maintaining your online presence will help reassure them that you’re also probably actively involved in maintaining and updating your property itself.

Mistake #6: Not Leveraging Yourself as a Resource

The final mistake that can impact your ability to drive online reservations is not leveraging yourself as a resource. These days, travelers aren’t just looking for rooms to stay in. They want experiences, and they want to work with properties that can provide them with those experiences.

Leveraging yourself, your team, and your property as a resource can help you boost awareness, build trust, differentiate from competition, and drive more bookings.

To start positioning your resort as a resource for travelers, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Launch a blog. Use your blog to share updates, information about the area, ideas for day trips, tips about travel, and anything else that your target audience would find interesting and relevant.
  • Step 2: Share your blog posts on social media sites and in email marketing campaigns. Give people excerpts of your blog posts, but drive them to visit your website to read the full posts.
  • Step 3: Commit to keeping your blog updated. If you don’t have the time or resources to keep your blog updated with fresh content, don’t launch a blog. You’re better off not having one than not providing your visitors with consistent content to digest. Your blog can help you build trust and become the resource that people are looking for, but it takes time, and you have to be consistent about it.

Remember: Travelers want experiences and memories. If you can use your blog content to prove to them that you can be the resource they’re looking for, you’ll easily start driving more reservations through your website.

Over to You

What other mistakes should resort managers watch out for? Share your ideas in the comments section below.