A Hotel Website Worthy of Its Acclaim

The Rise of the Customer-centric Experience

By Lewis Fein CEO, Lewis Fein Communications | November 15, 2015

Imagine a luxury hotel with a second-rate website, hosted by an unresponsive and (mostly) unaccountable group of overworked and underpaid technicians in the deepest recesses of India, Pakistan or the Philippines.

Picture that physical property with its manicured lawns and teams of topiary experts, trimming and shaping a garden into a verdant dream world of elephants, lions, tigers and giraffes, and compare that scenery with a hotel's mediocre website: A vulnerable assemblage of weeds and digital rot, where hackers and cyber criminals may riot and revel in their thievery, while the overall appearance of that site – as well that obsolete backbone of servers and auxiliary support – undermines any pretense of excellence, loyalty to guests and fidelity to the founding principles of your hotel or resort.

There should not be, and there must not be, a disconnect between the service a hotel provides and the online experience that same organization delivers (or too often fails to achieve). There is no room for error, and there cannot be any intrusion of generic templates and mundane photos at the expense of customized service and colorful design.

Consider these words a call to action, not a rant or a complaint, because I believe it is a hotel executive's responsibility to be as vigilant about the integrity of his property's online identity as he is of its physical image and tangible operation.

A hotel executive must, therefore, be conversant with the nuances of web hosting, domain names, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and virtual and dedicated servers. This assignment is too significant for a hotelier to ignore or pass on to a subordinate; its implications are too serious, and its consequences are too grave, for an executive to dismiss the necessity of this project by having some anonymous IT worker manage this process, unbeknownst to the men and women within the upper echelons of a property.

For, unless a site projects respect for the business or leisure traveler, and without a verbal commitment to superior service and visual confirmation of the same, a hotel's online presence will diminish, its bookings will decline and its reputation will descend into negative publicity.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.