A 2006 study from Market Metrix ranks the # 1 companies for customer service in hotels, airlines and rental cars. While #1 rated airline Jetblue’s recent unfortunate press seems ironic, hotel websites are continuing to strengthen their position against travel portals by providing a seamless booking experience. Customers are more apt to make their reservation on a user-friendly hotel site than a travel portal – says the report.
A few best practices for hotel websites from personal experience.
– Keep it simple.
– Save the flashy gimmickry for other parts of the website (example blogs, podcasts and video)
– Have a blog showcasing real customer testimonials and experiences (web 2.0)
– Sell the hotel first, and the destination second (since most travelers already know where they’re going)
– Check-in and checkout times, cancellation procedures, rates for additional services should be spelled out clearly
– Update the site regularly with fresh content and promotional offers.
– Have multilingual site versions (to target your strongest markets outside of US)
– Run paid search and other online advertising campaigns to drive traffic to the site
– Employ a SEO specialist who will optimize the site for enhanced natural search result performance.
– Finally, make it easy for the customer to find and hit the Book button, no matter which page of the site they are on.