We speak with independent hoteliers everyday about serious questions and concerns, such as increasing bookings, training staff, delivering great service, growing revenue – the list goes on and on. No matter how you approach it, running a hotel is hard work, so we spend lots of time tackling difficult problems with equally complex answers. However, a recent lunchtime discussion reminded us that sometimes solutions are much easier than we think.
“I won’t book a hotel room unless its website has great bathroom photos and it looks absolutely SPOTLESS!
And if it takes too long to find good bathroom photos, I just look for another hotel.”
The quote above came from co-worker while chatting about summer vacation plans. It was so simple, yet it is exactly the type of insight that is valuable to independent hoteliers. The conversation then led into questioning why some hotel websites have lots of photos of the building exterior, lobby and other public spaces, but only a handful of the guestrooms and even fewer of the bathrooms. And, in some cases, poor lighting makes bathrooms look dingy and uninviting – which is a major issue for some guests and causes them to cross certain hotels off of their travel lists.
After thinking about this issue from both hotelier and guest standpoints, we realized the disconnect is a simple matter of perspective. Hoteliers want to appeal to a wide audience of travelers, so their website photos focus on areas that all guests can enjoy. However, from the individual guest’s point of view, the lobby and pool photos are nice, but they’re much more interested in the rooms where they’ll be staying.
What’s “great” about this issue is that neither perspective is wrong and simple solutions exist. Here are a few tips for improving your hotel’s website and making sure you aren’t driving your guests away to your competitors:
• Get insight from travelers: As noted above, operators and travelers can look at the same hotel from two entirely different perspectives. Using social media, email and focus groups, collect insight and comments about your website from past guests and travelers who unfamiliar with your property. Use their feedback to identify your sites strengths and weaknesses and then think about ways to make improvements.
• Think from your guests’ point of view: For many guests, the quality and selection of a hotel’s website photos will determine if they book or not. Operators must look at each photo in detail and determine how it appeals to travelers. For example, do your bathroom mirrors look selfie-ready? This may seem like a silly question, but if your bathroom photos aren’t visually appealing, guests will not want to stay with you, nor use your bathroom mirrors for their daily selfies.
• Hire a professional photographer: With the rise of digital media, hotels operate in a very visually-driven hospitality environment. Your website photos can be the element that draws guests in or pushes them away, so hiring a professional photographer, as well as a photo stylist, can have an enormous impact on your business. View the cost as a long-term investment in your property, just like a renovation. With eye-catching website photos, you eliminate any doubts about your property and deter guests from booking with your competitors.