Your Web Site: If It Ain't Broke... Break It! ...Pardon My Rant.
By Neil Salerno
Friday, 12th May 2006
Create change - Develop a "break-it" routine.

A hotel web site should be an ever-changing work in progress; Keep your web site current, updated, and compatible with new search engine and web design technology; "If it ain't broke…break it".  Don't wait until your site eventually breaks itself and becomes dysfunctional; by that time, you've lost business.

When was the last time you reviewed your hotel's web site? I don't mean "look at it", I mean when was the last time you reviewed every word on every page; reviewed every graphic and link, every Meta tag and your entire site's current content relevance. Does it sell?

Back in the good ‘ole days of print advertising, would you have run the same ad over and over again for 6 months, a year, two years? If you did you probably ran into the dreaded world of diminishing return. Trust me; it pays to refresh your site often.

Most of us are creatures of routine. The practice of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is so comfortable, cozy, safe, and gives us that nice warm and fuzzy feeling; like an old friend that visits from time-to-time. Routine tasks take little effort and require little thought with no anxiety over making decisions; so risk free.

As the saying goes, no risk, no reward. Change is risky and uncomfortable, so why should we seek change; it complicates our lives. Web sites that haven't been updated and reviewed frequently become stale and progressively less productive as circumstances and market factors change; your web site should be your hotel's most productive promotional piece.

When business turns soft and demand is low, the common result is that management drives everyone to find new and exciting promotions, which will turn the tide and paint the hotel back into the black. This is good, but you should look first to those things that can be improved like your web site. But, the fact is, only one or two promotions produce the majority of business; the old 80/20 rule. Your web site should be one of your prime producers. If it isn't, break it and re-build it.

You've all heard it before "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got!" If you are not getting the results you need from your web site, you need to change it. If, on the other hand, everything is perfect, I guess change can be ignored. The problem is that "perfect" seldom occurs in the hotel business.

As a consultant, probably the saddest words to hear are "That's the way we've always done it". Unfortunately, people who say this are usually defending against suggestions to improve some sort of procedure or program. We all know that most people resist change.

There is very little that is new in the hotel business. Programs and promotions have stayed pretty much the same for the last forty years or so. The biggest changes have taken place in the way we apply them. Web site marketing is still in its infancy and it is changing rapidly.

Web Site "Break it" Checklist:

  • Is your landing (home) page clean, with static images and well written text and void of ineffective, but "pretty" flash elements?
  • Is your text written in priority order, with the most important information in the first couple of paragraphs? Does this text reflect key words and phrases to allow search spiders to more easily find your site?
  • Is the navigation of your site simple and easy to follow?
  • Is the text written to sell your hotel to visitors? This is the most important part of the entire site.
  • Is the hotel's location highlighted in the text, not just the hotel's address?
  • If you have public space, does your site contain a "request for proposal" for groups?
  • Do you have a real-time booking engine attached to your site? They are very affordable and are guaranteed to drive more bookings. The ROI is impressive.
  • Does your site have a good link strategy to help drive traffic to your site?
  • Are your Meta tags and key words carefully chosen through research and popularity?
  • Is your site cluttered with unnecessary information like "local weather" and other such information?
  • Was your site designed by a techie without the direction of a hotel marketing person? It's not an online brochure, it's a sales piece.
  • Are you tracking "bookings" instead of just unique visitors? If it's not producing business, what good is it? Would you only judge the effectiveness of your sales team by just tracking the number of people they see?
  • Do you have a good search engine submission procedure?
  • Does your photo gallery contain text along with the graphics so, search engines can find them? 
This is simply a partial list. If you answered "no" to any of these questions…It's time to"Break it". Your web site should be responsible for a third or more of all your room business. Don't let more business pass you by. 

Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach

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