They've Arrived, Online... Now What? What do potential Guests see when they visit your website?
By Douglas Aurand President, Douglas Aurand & Associates | January 27, 2012
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website has pushed it to the first page of search results and the money you're paying with Google Adwords and Yahoo Marketing is delivering visitors to your site, too. Even your website URL on business cards, flyers, stationary, brochures and all your other printed materials is getting potential Guests to your website.
What do they see when they arrive? A lot of text?
Or will they get to "see" the hotel like they want to. If most vacation destinations depended on written descriptions, they just wouldn't be as popular as they are. Memories of Hawaii, the Grand Canyon and the Alps just don't include written words; they're mental images! Potential Guests want to see your rooms, (you know, the place they're going spend a lot of time in), your fine dining restaurant (where a couple can have a romantic dinner), recreation facilities like the pool (where their kids want to spend as much time as possible) and the ballroom (where the bride-to-be may be having her wedding reception). They want to see everything! Everything that might convince them to stay at your hotel instead of your competition.
You want them to see the hotel, too. Don't you? The new plasma-screen TVs and work desks in the rooms, even the small flat-screen on the wall in the suite bathrooms. The upgraded bedspreads, linen and furniture too? You want to show off after spending thousands, even millions of dollars, to upgrade and update your rooms, don't you? And the views too, like the mountains, the lake, a city skyline, the ocean, a desert sunset, etc. Again, you want them to see everything that might convince them to stay at your hotel instead of your competition, don't you?
What shows them better than a Virtual Tour on your hotel's or your franchise's website. Interactive Virtual Images let them pan around guest rooms, restaurants, ballrooms and pools, stop and zoom-in on details that interest the visitor to your website, your potential Guest. Spherical Virtual Images let your potential Guests see your hotel in a way as near to human vision as is currently possible on the Web. They can turn left and right, look up and down and zoom in and out.
I've always believed "Nothing sells a hotel, like the hotel." If your hotel is planning its own website or updating an existing one, consider designing it as a virtual representation of your property, a "virtual hotel". When a potential Guest arrives at your Home Page they could see the front of the hotel, just like they would pulling up in front of the main entrance. Once you've got them there don't make them think about what to click next, put a "Virtual Tour" button on the Home Page. The Wave Hotel in Miami Beach does this on www.WaveHotel.com and the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco has one on www.SirFrancisDrake.com, it will get clicked a lot, and your potential Guests are off on a tour of your property. If navigation of the tour is from a floorplan or a drawing of the building the tour becomes even more virtual, making it a combined "left-brain/right-brain" experience. VRX Studio's virtual tours usually navigate from a rendering of the hotel. Click on Photo/Virtual Tour at www.SirFrancisDrake.com to see an example. On the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino website, www.InnoftheMountainGods.com, the Virtual Tour button is a little harder to find, click ACCOMODATIONS and it drops down. Once on the Virtual Tour page, small Windows pop up when an iPIX icon on the floorplan is clicked. The Full 360^0x 360^0 Images play in these Windows. Close it and click another icon to continue the tour. Still photos can be used in the pop-up windows too, extending the virtual tour to locations that don't warrant a virtual image.