After being in the online booking industry for a number of years, we have come across some beautiful websites and a fair number of sad sites.
We decided to make a list of the worst ideas we’ve seen. If you have fallen into the trap of any point listed below, perhaps consider making some changes.
Here are the top eight ways to alienate people and lose bookings:
1. Background music
There is a good chance your potential guest is browsing the net secretly during office hours, possibly contrary to the office policy of no personal internet browsing. By having music playing (albeit a pleasant, tranquil ditty), your site will be closed immediately (before the boss hears), never to be opened again. Gone is your potential guest. Forever.
2. Prices on request
Ever been to a restaurant and noted the SQ on a menu? SQ loosely translates to, “You’ll lose your appetite when they tell you the price”. You normally move straight on and choose something else more palatable. Although your prices are subject to seasonal changes and there may be a reason why your rates are not listed, it sends the incorrect message to the guest. In this age of information, all information must be easily accessible.
Unless you have a casino or ‘nudie bar’ on premise, it’s highly advisable to steer clear of overly flashy banners or text. If you want to attract attention to a specific area of interest, consider deploying a large button with a distinctly different look than anything else on the site (without making it look too alien). Another possibility is to add slight intermittent movement to an element you’d like to have attention drawn to.
4. Oversell your establishment
If your establishment doesn’t have it, don’t suggest that it does! You will get caught out and the damage done by disgruntled guests will be irrevocable. A trip through TripAdvisor should convince you of the perils of perfidy.
5. Cliché. Cliché. Cliché
Phrases such as ‘Your home away from home’, ‘Arrive as strangers and leave as friends’ should be avoided.
Why? Because it makes you sound like a (lazy) parrot. If you really want to add value by way of website copy (and you should), tell guests exactly what they can expect to experience at your place. If you feel the need to get flowery with your language, make sure the floweriness is understandable and relates to your offering.
Make sure that all page navigation goes to where it is supposed to go. Also consider adding relevant information to your 404 page (the page visitors to your site reach if the page they clicked through to does not exist anymore). For instance, a good 404 page should have an error message telling the visitor that what they’re looking for is no longer there, but that they can have a look at this or that page or category (show categories or pages the visitor might like to see), and include a link to the home page.
7. Too little information
Your website is your stage – provide as much relevant content as possible. In fact, rather have too much info, than too little. This does not mean that you should cram your site with bloated blocks of text. Break large pieces of content into easily digestible chunks and you’ll have the best of both worlds: lots of information, yet not boring.
8. Bad or irrelevant images
Before posting an image on your site, make sure that it is of good quality and that it sells your establishment. A picture of your granddaughter may be dear, but will a guest choose to book at your establishment because of this image? If ever you’re tempted to post an image that gives a different impression of your establishment than what reality portrays, refer to point number 4.
It all comes down to common sense, really. Integrity and honesty will go a long way in establishing you as someone deserving of patronage.
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