Expert’s Voice: Optimise your hotel website’s key pages to boost engagement and direct bookings
Technical hospitality writer Juliana Hahn of Hospitality Copywriting offers a range of practical tips showing how hotels can improve the quality of the copy on their websites – and why it matters.
Before we jump into which pages your hotel website needs and how to write them, let me answer a question you may have: why bother revisiting your hotel website copy?
There’s a simple answer: Your website is like your hotel’s online calling card and it’s your key to getting more commission-free direct bookings. Leverage it as much as possible!
Think of it this way: When you meet someone at a networking event and they give you a calling card that looks like something their trainee created on Paint late at night, you won’t be very impressed. That’s how people feel when they come to an unengaging or outdated-looking hotel website. Then they bounce and book via an OTA [online travel agent] or, worse yet, with your competition…
To avoid that, you need to catch their attention and convince them that booking your hotel directly is their best option. One important step to achieving this is to structure your website properly and provide the right information in the right place.
Keep reading to find out how!
Your hotel website homepage
Your hotel website’s homepage is to your hotel like the cover to a magazine. Its job is to grab your visitor’s attention and highlight your property’s key features.
Before you begin writing the text for your homepage, you need a clear idea of what these key features are and how best to promote them (ie how you want to design your magazine cover). Collect ideas for this by considering what your guests do, enjoy and want to know about your property.
This can include:
- Featuring your Michelin-star restaurant
- Highlighting your spa and wellness amenities
- Showcasing your conference and event facilities
- Focusing on your family-friendly offers
The better you know your ideal guest, the easier it will be to choose your focus points. Once you know what you’ll shine the spotlight on, begin crafting powerful headlines and short, meaningful introductions to your top offers.
- be short and to the point
- make the reader dream of your hotel
- help them picture themselves having the perfect stay
Hold the organisational details for your description pages to keep your homepage clean and avoid unnecessary clutter. And remember: Your site visitors need or want something. Make it easy to find so they can quickly do what they came to do (eg learn about your hotel, check your rates, book a room, etc).
Your about page
Apart from your homepage, what is the most important page on your website? The about page!
Now, you may be wondering: Isn’t this a page you just have because everyone else does? No! It’s so much more but unfortunately, many people underestimate it. A study showed that around 52% of visitors will see your about page. That means valuable direct bookings slip through your fingers if you neglect this page and the people who check it out.
Let’s look at how you can avoid this mistake and rock your about page.
Ever heard that the about page is not really about you but your site visitor? This statement has a point, but I’d put it differently. Let’s think about it this way: your about page should be about you, all while being relevant to guests.
What does this mean?
Your about page is where people go to find out more about your hotel as a whole and to get information they can’t find anywhere else. But they’re not just looking for dry details like room count or the founding year. Rather, they want to know things that make your hotel more interesting, captivating, or exciting to them.
Identify these aspects by asking yourself:
- Which details could you share with potential guests that would spark their interest even more than what they already know about you?
- Which details play a role in a potential guest’s booking decision?
- What would a first-time visitor love to know about your hotel?
Here are some possible answers:
- Special location (on the top floors of a famous building, on a private island, at the top of a mountain…)
- Unique service offer (something no other hotel nearby offers)
- Award-winning amenities (eg Michelin-starred restaurants or a top-notch spa)
- Distinctive (possibly award-winning) design
- Interesting history (Is your hotel in an old palace or castle? Is your region of special importance?)
- Awards, accolades and media features
- Other unusual details that make your hotel more relatable and attractive to guests
Think hard about what could help you build a connection with potential guests. Then write a short introduction to your hotel that highlights its essence and shows your site visitors that they’ve come to the right place. Finish your about page strong: Use a call to action to encourage people to take the next step, like booking via your site or browsing your special offers before making their final decision.
Description and information pages
Surprise… As the name suggests, a description or information page contains details about a certain part of your hotel, eg your F&B or MICE department, your spa, rooms and suites, and maybe your surroundings.
What to include on your information pages?
Once more, the key is to offer the information your site visitors want. Think about which questions people have when they check these pages. Ask your reservations team what they get asked most often. Include this information in your description pages and update them when necessary.
How to write and lay out your information pages?
Now that you understand what people want to know about your hotel, provide this information in a clear, relevant, no-nonsense way. Keep it short and add relevant images. Begin with a brief introduction that paints a picture and helps guests create a mental picture of themselves at your property. Always appeal to the heart first by concentrating on things guests really want, ie the benefits your hotel offers (not only its features).
This is what I mean: When guests look for a property with a pool, they don’t want a pool (the feature) just for the sake of it. They actually want what the pool promises (its benefits):
- A relaxing day in the sun
- A refreshing swim in the heat of the day
- An opportunity to get some laps in and stay fit while travelling
The details you should focus on depend on your target audience.
For example, business guests want to know about:
- High-speed Wi-Fi in guest rooms
- Whether they can work productively in their room or your co-working space
- If they can get early check-in if they have a morning flight
Families care about:
- Options to set up extra beds or baby cots
- Availability of connecting rooms for a smooth family trip
- Child discounts on meals and other child-friendly services
Once you’ve set the mood, drive home your point by listing important features that don’t have the same emotional appeal as the benefits. Use bullet points to make it easy to read and browse.
At the bottom of the description page, ask yourself: What does the visitor want to do or know now? (Your site analytics will show you where people usually go from this page.)
For example, at the bottom of a room description page, you could provide two options:
- ‘Book this room’ for those who are ready to commit
- ‘View other rooms and suites’ for those who want to see and compare other options
The same goes for a restaurant information page. Offer them a chance to book a table directly or to check your other dining options.
Now it’s your turn – implement these simple steps on your website! Then it will look more like the fancy business card you’d get from a graphic designer rather than the trainee’s late-night Paint experiment.
As you can imagine, that will create an amazing impression on your audience, boost your direct bookings and help you reduce your acquisition costs. And you get all that just for tweaking your hotel website copy!
Sounds like quite a deal, right?
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Hospitality Copywriting.
Technical hospitality writer
Juliana Hahn is a content creator and copywriter specialised in writing for the hospitality and tourism industry. Before diving into the world of copywriting several years ago, she studied hotel management and worked in hotels around the globe. Today she leverages her industry experience to craft engaging content for hospitality tech companies, hotels and online publications. You can find her at www.hospitality-copywriting.com