Have you ever Google’d before going on a trip, only to run across one crappy website after another in search of a hotel? Face it, despite all the technology advances, the mobile breakthroughs enabling us like never before, hotel websites still suck. At least a great many do. Expensive to build, to keep current, not many “turnkey solutions” have presented themselves over the last few years. Until now, that is. WIHP Hotel Marketing’s Martin Soler sent me this via G +. Watch “Convert” – you’ll be surprised.
We search and investigate thousands of sites each week, it’s the nature of finding the best information and news for our readers. So, we feel the pain of surfing over the rocky shoals of horrible business billboards online. But for travelers, you can just surf on, right? For the hapless or financially handcuffed hotelier you the paying customer floating on by is – well, it’s a damned tragedy when you get right down to it. In economics opportunity costs often are, the deciding factor between sinking and staying afloat. We are all witnesses to this, in the current economic situation. We’ll never truly know what we’ve lost. So it is for businesses dealing online, unwilling or unable to keep up with their industry.
Now we have WIHP’s Convert. A lot of marketing companies will claim having a handle on ROI, conversions, engaging people as if jumping out of the iPad or iPhone, or PC, literally into the potential guest’s living room. But, what’s the reality? The truth of online buying and selling of hotel rooms is pretty simple really, after all, what is a hotel? A place to stay in a location, but more than this a set of desireable amenities too. So, so how do you show this efficiency, and sufficiently, to engender confidence – with “flip switch” simplicity? Not the easiest of tasks, is it developers out there?
One of the most difficult aspects of developing a website of any kind is refining the navigation, deciding which elements go where, how one moves about the site, and so on. But, even more crucial than the design, is the consideration given to how buyers (yes guests are buyers) make their decisions. Calls to action, navigation patterns, which potential customers “drill down” and which are more inclined to book more immediately. You see the rub. How can a website cater to all sorts of shopping mentalities? Observe what WIHP has come up with here.
Playing with the demo a few moments ago, it occurred to me Martin’s collaborators where at WIHP seem to have stumbled upon a near perfect navigational room shopping device in Convert. As you can see in viewing the screenshot images of Hotel Ares, there in Paris, this new product really says “Dig as deep as you want, then let us know when you’re convinced to book our hotel.” Isn’t this what hoteliers (or any shopkeeper) is supposed to do?
Carrying our story further down the road, as you can see I have clicked on through to view an image of the hotel from the gallery. The screen below makes me think WIHP must have been reading all my criticisms of travel websites these last years. imagery, combined with the exactness of button placement, Google simplicity, this is all anyone can ask of a website. It’s so hard to do, but extraordinary when it happens.
More Pros – Some Cons
Click “Rooms & rates” – and there they are with images of your bed for the night, nice, crisp, clear, see through. Click “Offers” – ditto. Hit the “Map” button and get the huge Google variant with your home away smack in the middle – I love this (image below). Pull up “Hotel” and a simple text shows the hotel’s core info, in the case of Ares their location, concierge, Internet, and other services. No small print either. In fact, everything is pretty much in huge print for the Ares Hotel, the effect being very credible.
But, I said some “cons” didn’t I?
In all honesty, I could find only one thing wrong with Convert, the lack of faces, the people of the hotel. Excuse me for being a stickler, but nothing brands a hospitality venue like a smiling, welcoming face. Perhaps this was the choice of the hotel? There’s not one person throughout the gallery, or on the site, that I could find. Even if subliminally, any visitor could get the sense Hotel Ares is uninhabited, like some ghost accommodation. Aside this important element – WIHP has excelled this time.
This company has built over 4000 websites for clients these last few years. As their dogma insists, it seems clear they have gotten much better over the course. Convert does its job for the reasons WIHP states. Your online “Billboard” or storefront has precisely 3 seconds to sell to the passing surfer. No one has time to search for your value, it had better be there instantly, or the client had better already know you – period! Sink or swim, this is where online businesses are headed.
Lastly, WIHP is one of the world’s leading hospitality marketing groups too, don’t forget. Hotels that buy into this new Convert design don’t just get a website and no support to go with it. Far from it. WIHP also throws the weight of their other skill-sets in. Take a look at:
- The web design tailored to hotel clients
- Convert’s marketing tool-set (more later on this)
- SEO for your hotel (Mihaela will evaluate in a later post)
- Top notch website hosting (I did not test the speed, seemed quick)
- Dedicated customer service plan and team
You can blow off this review as a one sided sales pitch for WIHP, an advocacy for an associate, if you will. But, I suggest you test drive this site design yourself. Put your hotel’s value in place of Hotel Ares, here at the live demo. The come back and tell us what you think. For me, I love it (can’t you tell?). One last note of praise for Convert, the map element allows guests to visit around and about attractions near their hotel. In the image below you can see filtering for restaurants discovers many, and especially Vedettes de Paris where cruises of all types can be had.
For more information about WIHP’s Convert websites please visit the links provided. You may also want to take a look at the package offerings and site specs here. WIHP has also done a superb job of utilizing the latest standards in developing these.HTML 5, High Resolution images, guaranteed 99.9% site uptime via host, and so on.