In a world of technology, it's crucial for businesses to catch up with the latest trends. Global hotel chains and industry heavyweights have no problem managing custom websites, different social platforms, and investing in the newest hardware and software.
However, when it comes to small family hotels or campsites, things get a little bit trickier. Local guesthouses and hostels not always have the budget to keep up the pace. The good news is, even small scale players can have a decent (and efficient) website without breaking the bank.
We won't lie to you – if you are a hotel owner and you want to build yourself a free website, it's absolutely possible. Indeed it may take you one afternoon to adjust it and put all the information you need, but we promise you, you won't spend a penny.
Well, you will have to use a shared domain (like yourhotel.wordpress.com) but it will be forever free. This option means that you will have to use either WordPress.com or Weebly.com or any of their alternatives. Since these are all free tools, your design options will be limited but still, you can set up quite a website.
Of course, that won't be the most stunning website you've seen nor the most functional but it will work. Nevertheless, we advise you to buy your own domain and hosting. This doesn't mean that you'll end up spending more than $200 (it could be even cheaper) or you'll have to pay developers to build your website for you. Fortunately, the internet is packed with all the information you need to build yourself a website on your own, even if you have no experience in developing.
If you are a beginner, we advise you to use Wordpress.org and build your hotel a brand new website. We won't get into the technical part here because many have done it before us. Just go to WPbeginner and you'll figure out how WordPress works.
Once you're done with the technical stuff, it's time to get into the types of content you need. Think of your website as if it's your online flyer. You don't want to overwhelm the end-user with sophisticated and unintuitive design. In fact, what you need is something practical and easy to use.
Don't listen to what the web design agencies tell you – simplicity is always the best choice. This is why, your website can consist only of 4-5 pages, which will be more than enough to get the wheel rolling. We'll go a step further and claim that one-page websites (one-scroll) can still do the trick.
First and foremost you've got to have a page dedicated to you. This is the place where you talk the most about your hotel and how it came to be, how many and what types of rooms do you have, what's your story, and so on. It doesn't have to be lengthy but it has to be compelling. Most likely, this is your “sales” page where you actually persuade the reader to choose you over the competition.
In this section you can include information such as for how long have you been accepting guests, why did you decide to run an accommodation property, share a funny story with some of your guests, how has your property evolved over the years, how do you keep your guests satisfied, what's unique about your hotel, and virtually anything you believe has a place here. But remember – keep it reasonably short and simple because people are here to make a booking, not to read a novel.
Your website visitors are your potential guests. You want to make it easy for them to get in touch with you. Therefore you need a contact page where you've listed your physical address (so that people actually know where they are going), your email address and your telephone number.
However, this is just part of the game. You have to make sure you actually answer the telephone and respond to your email as timely as possible. I have to break it to you but you are not the ony hotel out there and when potential guests are reaching out but there's no one on the other side they will simply go back to Google and try the next hotel.
So once you have your website built make sure who is responsible for picking up the phone and checking the inbox. It is highly advisable one person takes care of both your email and telephone because otherwise, double work may occur.
Don't forget to share some images of your property. Nowadays customers want to know everything in advance. Don't get bothered by the fact that you own a tiny hotel with no pool, SPA or whatever. In fact, small family hotels are getting popular by the our and now it's the time to catch the wave.
It's important to have a gallery because people are willing to know what are they spending their money for. Plus, a decent gallery can make you quite popular on visually-based social media such as Pinterest or Instagram. Just go to Pinterest, type small hotels and you're be blown away by the ideas you can snatch from others to make your family hotel more appealing.
Some hotel owners don't put their pricing online due to fear that the competition will beat their prices. This is wrong for so many reasons and you shouldn't do it. Lowering your prices is an endless game that has no winner.
So make sure your prices are up on your website and make sure it is easy for the website visitors to understand how much every single room and perk costs. If you have high seasons, adequately distinguish them in a separate color or table or whatever you think is visually different.
If you have more time to spend on building your hotel website, you can add some additional features that won't cost you much but they will certainly make your website look more professional.
We always advise hotel owners to spend the time writing meaningful and valuable blog posts, where they can share interesting information not only about their property but about its surroundings as well. Here's our guide on how to write a hotel blog post.
If you are using WordPress, it will take you less than 5 minutes to embed a Google Maps snippet on your website. When you have your property listed on Google Maps it is so much easier for customers to actually see where you're located and to navigate themselves. Plus, Google Maps is a great place for them to read some reviews about you.
And last but not least a reservation engine will enable your visitors to directly make an online booking. You might think that this requires a lot of coding but in reality, cloud-based hotel management systems like Roombre can be easily integrated into any website in a nick of time.
So what are you waiting for? Go on and build your website!