Hotel Online  Special Report

Time For a Hotel Web Site ďMake-OverĒ?
Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change
By: Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA Ė February 2005

On television, make-overs for people and even entire homes appear to be striking a popularity nerve with TV viewers. Experts look for every way possible to make improvements. The results are exciting, although Iíll never admit to actually watching any of these TV shows. 

Web sites, like people and homes, can occasionally use a make-over too. Styles change, tastes change, and methods for building a successful web site change. Like an old pair of shoes, web sites often need a new coat of spit and polish to extend their lives. Those of you still wearing those comfortable four year old shoes know exactly what I mean.

A web site make-over includes a fresh new look at the copy, photography, and over-all design of your site. Is it still a good representation of your hotel? Could your site use some new photography? With digital photography today, creating new photos is very easy to do. If you were running a print media ad in a magazine, would you run the same ad, month after month, without changing its message and appearance?

Is the design of your site old and dated and does it still conform to search engine requirements? Is it technically sound? Has production (new reservations) slowed down to a trickle, while your competitionís share increased with the rest of the hotel community?

There have been many articles published lately about the positioning race being run by the major search engines; all vying to be number one. Iím told that Google has wrenched away the top spot almost overnight. Is your site indexed and ranked by Google and other major search engines and re-submitted every forty-five days? 

Donít be fooled by attempting to measure Internet production by counting your online reservations alone. Some experts feel that more than 90% of all travelers use the Internet to research travel whether or not they actually book online. 

Before the Internet, a hotel needed $millions to get the potential exposure available on the web. Remember the old days when we had budgets which allowed us to spend thousands on generic advertising to promote our hotels? When reservations came in, we really couldnít be certain which ad or ads produced the business, but we knew the advertising helped. 

The Internet presents very much the same opportunity; with one notable exception ...itís a lot cheaper. The Internet is still the best value available to promote your hotel.

Advertising on the Internet, via your web site, is inexpensive. I believe thatís one of the reasons it is so neglected. Years ago when hotels were spending $10, 15 or 30K per month on print and broadcast media, everyone got involved and had an opinion. The dollar investment begged for attention. Maybe one day the Internet will draw that kind of attention as well. 

For now, you can get world-wide exposure on the net for just a fraction of what we had to spend years ago. Does it get better than that? 

Technology in the search field is constantly changing and improving. If your hotel is in a major market, check out some of the new regional search engines. Imagine selling your restaurant and bar on the Internet and using the Internet to promote local banquets and meetings...absolutely amazing. 

Can search engines find your site? If you havenít done so, check your search ability and Meta Tags. Are they current? Have the key words and key phrases, you created when your site was developed, been updated to reflect the most popular search terms used today? I hate to be so obvious, but your site is worthless unless people can find it. 

I know some people feel that they need to submit their site to thousands of search engines to be effective. Remember the old, but still valid, 80/20 rule? Only 20% of all search engines will provide 80% of your web site referrals. Choose the most popular search engines, learn their requirements, and work to be indexed and ranked as high as possible. Concentrate your efforts on those that can produce volume and make your site more effective. 

A few search engines rank your site by popularity and other factors. The more popular your site is, the higher its ranking will be. Some research is required, but the data to improve popularity is available. If you are truly interested in getting all-you-can-get from the Internet, itís well worth the effort. Are you using standard techniques to increase the popularity of your site; such as reciprocal links, a site news letter, etc.?

Starting your make-over is easy. Before you simply hire someone to submit your site to search engines or blindly, re-design your entire web site, get an evaluation of your site by an expert. Would you expect a doctor to prescribe medicine without diagnosing your illness, first? 

There are many hotel web specialists who can perform an inexpensive analysis of your site. They will review your site for search engine conformation in design, general presentation, functionality, and marketability; and then prescribe or suggest changes to improve it. You are then free to decide which changes you need to make. 

It would be a big mistake, indeed, to assume that your web site has to be changed completely to be effective. When selecting someone to review your site, find someone with practical hotel marketing experience; someone who understand that the mission is to increase reservations, not just to make your site look sleek or flashy. 



Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
The Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internetís Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather, Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? Plain Talk About Internet Sales / Neil Salerno / February 2004
Donít Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Yearís Resolutions You Will Want To Keep / Neil Salerno / January 2004
No More Whining About Third-Party Suppliers; You Control Your Own Fate On The Net / Neil Salerno / December 2003
Six 'Maxiís' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Itís Time To Take Back Control Of Rates & Rooms - But Is The Enemy...Us? / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Booking Engines Are Like A Box of Chocolates...You Never Know What Youíre Gonna Get! / Neil Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Web Site & Search Engine Optimization; Always A Work In Progress / Neil L. Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Budgets and Marketing Plans; Oh No, Is It That Time Again? / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...And It Doesnít Have To Be Costly Either / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Are You Treating Third Party eWholesalers As Competititon Or a Valuable Marketing Partner? / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
How Often Have You Heard, 'I could have gotten a better rate but the client saw our rates on the Internet' ? Itís Time To Get Back To Selling Location, Facilities, and Services / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
Before You Begin that Marketing Plan Challenge Your Sales Team; Expect More and Get More / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Jump Up and Shout Yes - Delivering Best Online Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence! / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Is The Internet Delivering On Its Promise? Well, It Depends on How you Look at It / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Coaching and Mentoring, Sometimes A New Paradigm Can Go A Long Way / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Sales Training Works Well, But Sales Mentoring Makes It More Effective; Mentoring Lasts a Lifetime / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Hotel Web Sites; Want it Creative or Effective? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
If You Always Do What You Have Always Done.... Youíll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelierís Mantra... Thinking Outside The Box / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003
Good Sales Planning - The Basics Still Work / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003

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