In the hospitality industry, where putting your best (visual) foot forward is vital, small businesses would be remiss to think of their websites too simply.
As a small business in the hospitality industry, your website is the sun that your digital presence revolves around. Think about it: your email signature, your social media presence, your email campaigns – they all aim to funnel customers back to your website so it can act as the closer and finish the job. So don’t just think of your website as an online brochure. Here are three “superpowers” your website and website design can deliver if done right.
An Always-Open, Always-Humming Sales Machine
“Always be closing” is the famous mantra preached to salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, and it applies just as much to small business hospitality websites. If you’re re-thinking your website, the primary goal shouldn’t be to make it look pretty, but to turn it into a machine to drive sales, often by generating leads. Whether someone visits your website at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m., on mobile or desktop, with time to browse or just passing through, it should deliver your message quickly and effectively and work to move the visitor through the pages to the place you want them to go most – presumably where they fill out a form, send an email, or add an item to their shopping cart.
When you have the right website, it gives you peace of mind knowing that it’s almost like a perfectly trained salesperson, always working on your behalf, generating leads and drumming up business. A poor website, on the other hand, can fumble away a sale you almost had. If a prospect heard good things about your business via word of mouth and wanted to check you out online, but found your messaging lacking, they may move on to someone else.
A Bigger, Better Billboard Than Your Competitors’
Imagine a busy bride-to-be. Her eyes are practically glazing over because she’s looking through so many wedding vendor websites. It’s often hard to tell photographers apart – but it’s easy to toss them into the “no” pile. In fact, she’s looking for reasons to say no. Dated fonts or structure? Pass. Difficult-to-decipher value proposition? Pass. Not mobile optimized? Pass. Blurry photos? Instant pass.
It’s not that these websites are offensive looking or terribly ugly – the main crime is usually blandness or lack of clarity. So when our aforementioned bride does come across a photographer’s website that’s well structured, communicates the value proposition clearly (and quickly!), shows off high-resolution images, and has a clear next step in the form of a CTA, she’s dramatically more likely to engage with it. Your website should add to your business’s credibility – not take away from it. It’s especially true if you’re in a visual business – and who isn’t, in hospitality? Whether you’re a restaurant, a hotel, a catering facility, or a florist, showing off your spaces or your product has to be job number one. Think of those warm prospects who stumble upon your site and poke around for a few seconds. Are you really putting your best foot forward, or are you losing business that should be yours?
Total Independence and Control
Some small businesses leave their main digital presence to a third party’s platform – it’s the restaurant that only has a Facebook Page, or a wedding vendor who lives solely on Wedding Wire or The Knot. The problem with that is that you’re putting your eggs into someone else’s basket. When you have your own website, on the other hand, you control every pixel of the experience and are constantly guiding readers toward contacting you in that form. If you rely on another’s platform, you’re subject to the whims and motivations of their company. In the case of Facebook, their goal isn’t to support your business; it’s to keep people on Facebook.com as long as possible to maximize ad revenue. You can and should have a robust Facebook page, but the objective should be to get people back to your website – a permanent online home perfectly fit to execute your business’s objectives.
It’s the difference between renting a kiosk at the mall and having your own immersive retail space. At a kiosk, other stores are within view, trying to catch your customers’ wandering eyes. There are distractions. Plus, really, there’s only so much you can do to customize a kiosk. Rent the retail space instead. Invest in your own website.