Is Changing Your Website Worth the Cost?

By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | January 27, 2012

There is no such thing as a perfect website. Even the companies that run the best, most successful websites in the world are constantly making changes and finding new, better ways to communicate and sell through their websites. But if you've got a limited budget (and who doesn't?) you need to think long and hard about whether it is worth the time and money needed to make changes to your site.

Let's take a look at what costs are typically involved. First, you need to do some research to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed. That entails a research cost. Then there are the costs involved in making the changes. And finally, there are costs to monitoring the results and checking to see if you are getting the expected return on your investment (ROI).

1. What needs to be changed?

You may have a gut feel that your website is not performing as effectively as it could be. You may have had some customer feedback about frustrations with your website. Or you may simply be hoping that by improving your website you'll get more bookings. None of these give you clear, reliable direction about where and how to make changes. Which means you can end up throwing out a lot of money by changing the wrong things, or changing the right things in the wrong way.

Instead, if you invest up front in some user testing, you'll be able to focus your efforts on changing what really needs to be changed. And with the right kind of testing, you'll know how to change it for maximum impact.

There are many ways to do user-testing, and they range in cost from a low of about $1,500 to upwards of $40,000. At the upper end, you will get a lot of usability expertise to help you design the right kinds of tests, an expert who will pore through tens of thousands of words of qualitative comments and possibly hours of video footage, interpret the results and make recommendations. The lower end will be much more basic, typically leaving it up to you to figure out what to test and to interpret the results. Depending on your levels of expertise and situation, either approach may work at certain stages of your website's life cycle.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.