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Given the travel and tourism industry's inherently borderless nature, its emergence as a truly 'online' industry comes as little surprise. The boom of travel sites and guides has allowed smaller hotels and service providers the opportunity to compete with the world's largest brands. Whether it be ratings on Trip Advisor or any other travel outlet, the web has helped even the playing field. However, with so many travel websites crowding the web, it's vital not only to create an online presence for your hotel, but also to make sure that it stands out and can convert website views into booking conversions.

Know Your USP And Use Your Passion: Unlike larger, more corporate-feeling hotel chains, a boutique hotel has the advantage of placing a personal touch on the vacation experience. Tourists are often looking for the more authentic local experience a smaller hotel can offer, so make sure your passion for your hotel and for the location comes through in every aspect of your website. Include a section on insider or local tips for touring the region, or if you're a family-run establishment, emphasize the personal care and customer service you will be able to provide. 

Strong Images: The biggest challenge for a small hotel is convincing a potential customer to enter the relative unknown of a non-name brand chain.  A heavy dose of photo and video content is a great way of overcoming this obstacle. Show off your fabulous location, stunning views, amazing rooms and delicious dishes, and make these images the center of your site. Ensure that the lighting is right and that you truly capture the ambiance of your hotel. Including video is also a very effective way of making your content more engaging and your users more enthused and comfortable with selecting your hotel. Consider including a 'virtual tour' of your facility, or make a 'trailer' for your hotel. You could also make yourselves stand out by having a short video clip where you or one of your employees talks about the unique experience at your hotel. All in all, the visual component of your website should work to give visitors a strong, vivid sense of what it would be like to stay at your hotel, so take the time to make sure your photos and videos are as beautiful and appealing as possible. 

Clear Navigation and Call-To-Action: Make it easy for visitors to get to your most important pages by choosing a simple navigational structure for your website. Your rates, reservation options, mapped location, guest testimonials and contact info are all vital elements that should be easy-to-find tabs on your menu. Be sure to have a strong and relevant call-to-action on every page, such as 'Check Rates, 'Check Availability' or 'Book Now'. It can also be useful to have these actions open in a new page, so that visitors can continue to browse through your website while checking dates and prices. Finally, use your site's analytics options to test which call-to-action works best and actually converts the most number of site visitors into bookings, and then adjust your website accordingly.

Make Your Claims Credible: It's a known fact that people trust the experience and advice of other, like-minded travelers, as well as travel critics, so add 'Testimonial' and 'Press' pages to generate a more objective buzz. Here again, having video testimonials - even just one or two - can work wonders to make your claims more reliable. The internet is becoming more and more about personal connections and community, so make sure you leverage the positive experience of any previous customers by inviting them to record themselves quickly or give your facility a recommendation. If you feature on Trip Advisor and other user review websites then make sure to include a prominent link to those sites on your own site, so that you can show off your positive reviews to potential visitors.

Make SEO Work For You: Work on getting your site found in search engines like Google, and make sure to include plenty of keywords about your hotel, services and destination in your website's content. Have a lovely B&B in New Orleans? Make sure all of these keywords are included in your site's content so that you feature high in relevant searches for small hotels in that area. It's equally important to go beyond just including general keywords, but also to provide as much useful information as possible on more specific topics, like other activities going on in your area, or package tours you can offer. This way you can optimize every page so that it is content and keyword-rich, and search engines will rank you more highly as a source of useful information. Relevant backlinks (links from 3rd party websites to your website) are also crucial to improving your website's ranking in search results. Google can't be fooled - it's the quality of the links that matters here, so keep your links genuine, coming from relevant websites such as local directories or other professional travel industry blogs and publications. A social media presence is also increasingly important for your website's SEO, so don't be shy and get social on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other social platforms. The hard work will pay off. 

Grab The Sale: Now that your site has lured in visitors, engaged their interest and prompted them to book, don't fall at the last hurdle. Catch them now by adding a booking app to your website. There are many online booking apps that allow you to seamlessly add a booking app to your website, so you can increase your bookings by sealing the deal with the potential guest, there and then. Another app to add value to the visitor is a currency converter, which will help international guests calculate how much the reservation will cost in their own currency. Above all, make it easy for guests to complete a booking there and then, and if you can afford to, offer coupons or special deals as an extra incentive. 

About Omer Shai

Omer Shai is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the CMO of web publishing platform Wix.

Contact: Media: Melissa Zeloof, Headline Media / +972 54 816 1146

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