As the hospitality industry (at least most destinations) heads into the busy summer season, it’s a good time to evaluate your website performance and determine what changes you want to make to optimize performance. In our industry, a website can make or break a business. In order to convince the people who land on your website to learn more about your resort and ultimately convert, you have to know what will actually compel them to stick around and take action.

If you haven’t been experiencing the level of traffic or conversions from your website that you’ve been hoping for, it’s time to start thinking about making some changes. Here are 7 things travelers want to see on resort websites in 2018:

1. Real Photos

When it comes to successfully converting online consumers, first impressions are everything. In a lot of cases, interested travelers won’t find your resort by searching its name directly in Google and clicking through to your website. Instead, travelers are searching for resorts and lodging in the particular area that they want to travel to, and then comparing the various options that show up on the first page of their search results. That’s why making the right first impression is so important: competition is fierce. To convince website visitors to stay on your website and learn more about your property, you have to help them understand what makes you different from your competitors or other resorts in your area within a matter of seconds.

One great way to differentiate from other resorts and properties is by using real, authentic photography on your website. But what does that mean, exactly? How are these photos different than the ones you already have on your website today?

Here’s the difference: real, authentic photos include actual people who stayed and enjoyed their time at your resort. They’re candid, relatable, a little imperfect, and the complete opposite of stock photography.

To help interested travelers picture themselves at your resort, hire a photographer to capture moments and guest experiences at your resort for a few days. Get authorization from guests to use their photos on your website and in other marketing material. Persuade them by offering some sort of additional free perk that they can take advantage of during their stay.

Sprinkle the photos onto your homepage along with the professional photos that highlight and feature the best parts of your resort. Start 2018 off on the right foot by making a plan to remove all stock photography from your website—stock photos are not compelling to people. They are easily recognizable, and they do nothing in terms of helping you show visitors what makes your resort unique.

2. Compelling Stories

These days, colorful resort and property descriptions aren’t always enough to grab the attention of interested travelers who land on your website. In order to keep visitors engaged and willing to explore, you need to leverage new types of content. Stories are one such type of content that you can use gain and keep the attention of interested travelers who are looking for the perfect place to stay.

When it comes to making a decision about whether or not to request more information or book a reservation, website visitors expect that they’ll be able to find on your website basic information about your resort, your amenities, your room availability, and your pricing. But that’s not all travelers want or need in order to make a decision about travel these days: they also want to be able to quickly determine or imagine the type of experience they’ll get from a stay at your resort.

By featuring the right stories throughout your website, you can help paint the right picture in the mind’s of your prospective guests.

Wondering what type of stories you can feature on your website? Here are a few ideas:

  • Long-form testimonials from past happy guests
  • Authentic photos (taken by a photographer that you hire) that feature guests who have stayed at your resort
  • Videos that tell the origin story of your resort
  • Photos and videos that feature your employees, managers, and owners
  • Videos and photos from happy guests (created by them, curated by you)

Wondering where to feature these stories on your website specifically? Try these locations:

  • In blog posts
  • On About pages
  • In room description sections
  • On a new Stories page
  • Sprinkled very sparingly on your homepage

The key with featuring stories on your website is to not overdo it. You want to avoid distracting visitors too much from the conversion experience that you need them to go through in order to book a reservation with you. Start small by publishing a new video on your homepage or featuring an authentic, real photo within your homepage photo slider or hero banner.

3. Helpful Content

Another great way to build trust with website visitors and nurture them down your funnel is by creating and sharing helpful content that your target audience can benefit from consuming. Remember: a lot of people who land on your website might not know anything about your resort at first. In the early stage of their research, they are simply looking for a answers to questions they have (ex. What is a good resort in Maui? Should I stay in Maui or should I go to Oahu instead?).

As a resort manager, it’s up to you to position yourself and your resort as a resource for travelers who are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. That’s where the creation of helpful content comes into play.

There are really two places on your website where you can be sharing or promoting helpful content: in blog posts, and gated behind opt-in forms that live on landing pages or within pop-ups. Both are great places to test.

To learn more about how to create the right content for your audience, read through these blog posts:

To create and launch pop-ups on your resort website that offer exclusive content in exchange for an email opt-in, explore our Conversion Optimization solutions.

4. Easier Navigation & Clearer CTA’s

If you’re not experiencing the amount of conversions you expected from your website, it may be because people are having a hard time finding the information they’re looking for, or understanding how to book a reservation with you online. To address these potential problems, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the current state of my site navigation? Is it easy to quickly find common information like room photos, amenities lists, directions, availability, pricing, etc.?
  • How easy or difficult is it to make it all the way through the booking process on my website? Are the call-to-action statements and buttons on my homepage and within my main navigation easy to see? Am I using words that make sense?
  • Could I simplify my navigation if I had to? What could I get rid of or move somewhere else? What matters most to people? What information do they always need to see in order to overcome the objections they have?
  • Do I have enough call-to-actions on my website? Do I have too many? How can I simplify and optimize them in order to help move people through the buyer’s journey toward conversion?

Asking these questions will allow you to think critically about the overall experience and usability that you’re offering to travelers when they land on your website. To identify problem areas and opportunities for improvement, ask a few of your employees or guests to give you feedback on their experience interacting with your website. Rank problem areas by priority level, then put a plan in place to make the necessary changes going into 2018.

5. Live Chat

In the past few years, live chat has become an increasingly popular way for brands to serve the immediate needs of online consumers. According to HappyFox, 42% of people select live chat as their preferred method of receiving customer support, higher than any other support method, and 38% of people say that they have made a purchase due to a good live chat session itself.

To boost the effectiveness of your website in 2018, consider offering live chat to website visitors who land on your website and need answers to their questions before they can make a decision about whether or not to book a reservation with your property. With tools like TRACK Chat, you can be proactive when it comes to engaging with website visitors and qualifying leads.

6. More Trust and Social Proof Statements

Despite the popularity of online shopping and purchasing, consumers still remain relatively wary of giving money to businesses over the internet. Because you typically don’t have the luxury of talking to interested travelers in person and showing them around your resort before they decide whether or not to book a reservation with you, you have to use your website as a tool to build trust with people.

There are a few things you can do in 2018 to build trust with the people who land on your website:

1. You can add trust and privacy badges to your checkout process. Doing so will help your prospective guests feel confident that the personal and payment information they provide to you while booking a reservation is safe and secure.

2. You can leverage trust and guarantee language throughout your website. Doing so will help your prospective guests feel like there is no risk or potential harm in booking a reservation with you and staying at your resort.

3. You can include testimonials and reviews from past guests. Doing so will help people feel confident that other people like them made the decision to book a reservation with you, and were happy with the outcome.

The more ways you can work to intentionally build trust with the people who land on your website, the better chance you will have in convincing them to convert and book a stay with you.

7. More Ways to Connect

To avoid alienating anyone or preventing anyone from booking a reservation with you, make sure to provide people with many different ways of contacting you. Make it easy for people by prominently featuring:

  • A phone number that connects people to a reservation agent or guest services specialist
  • An email address that allows people to type out questions rather than having to talk verbally over the phone with an agent.
  • A live chat system that allows people to ask questions and talk to an actual person in real-time.
  • Links to your resort social media profiles where people can post questions or send messages to you using a platform that they are already comfortable with.

Follow these recommendations to help website visitors understand that your team is eager and available to help answer any questions they might have about your resort.

Over to You

What changes are you planning on making to your website next year, and why? Share your ideas with me in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. I really like the idea of using more pictures that include guests (both taken by our photographer with guest permission, and photos taken by guests) I feel like that is a powerful marketing tool that we just haven’t taken full advantage of on our website. Thanks for the tips!

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