Hotel websites

I have just spent the best part of this afternoon trying to contact half a dozen hotels

Routinely I contact the hotels to let them know I have honeymoon clients, that it is their birthday or anniversary or whether it it will be their first visit to the destination.

If I already have a business card this is brilliant and saves a lot of hard work and adds a real personal touch

An email address is an essential piece of information that cannot be left out. I always give my clients contact details for the hotel, address, phone number and email address so that their families or business partners can contact them in an emergency. Most have fax details but in 2011 who uses faxes?

Apart from that, I really detest contact forms as I can’t get all the information in and I can’t get any sort of a rapport with the hotel. I am aware that spamming is an issue, but a decent spam filter should prevent this. I can also forgive a 12 bedroom B&B, but when the call centre of a very large multinational chain refuses to give me the email address of one of their hotels, there is something wrong. This tells me that they are impersonal and uncaring with no customer service whatsoever. Even business travellers need information sometimes

Other things that I find particularly annoying is music, totally unnecessary and it tells me nothing about the hotel, apart from their bad taste in music. I also hate Flash images. I don’t mind slideshows or 360 degree views of the hotel. These are useful and do help me and my clients. I mean rising suns, moving waves or a cartoon frog springing up in the middle of the screen.

The other irritation is spelling mistakes. I don’t mind bad translations. I appreciate the effort taken to do this. I especially love the little flags at the top fior the different languages. TIP if English is last then it is probably not for you. I dont mind American spellings either. The internet tends to use American language and, of course, so do the Americans! What I don’t want to see is ” put brookland hotel on your itinery. Amongst our many activitys are horse riding, sailing and canoing” for god sake use a spell check

I once saw a Hungarian website where the same handbag was carefully placed in the middle of the floor in several different rooms. This looks ridiculous and detracts from the appearance and important aspects of the room

Be honest with your description and rating. I don’t mind reading between the lines, panoramic view (up a hill) quiet location (middle of nowhere) simply furnished (basic) own taverna with nightly entertainment (noisy) but it is the ones that pretend to be 4 star because of the facilities but actually the rooms are dingy and smell of damp. Don’t say it is in the city or a specific resort when it is actually 15 minutes drive. The clients come back and complain because their expectations have not been met and in the long run it doesn’t benefit any of us. I spend hours looking at googlemaps to check the location

Are there hidden charges for the gym, sauna, babysitting, kids club, a la carte meals, parking, airport shuttle? What are these charges? Clients, particularly those with families are on a tight budget and take these into consideration. I usually end up having to phone the hotel and communication is not always easy

Good practices are USPs what makes your hotel stand out from the rest? A clear list of facilities, a map, nearest metro/airport/station contact details and the managers name, pictures and description of rooms with room size, maximum occupancy and bedding configuration. Do you cater for special diets? Is there a bar? A swimming pool? A Gym? Reduced or free golf fees? Free airport shuttle? Free town, resort or theme park shuttle? Free or reduced local attraction tickets? Currency change? Michelin restaurant?

I particularly like the maps, not necessarily to scale that have a big red dot where the hotel is, showing the nearest station/metro and the nearest landmarks or the beach clearly marked in graphic format

Me and my clients want to see clear pictures of the pool, the rooms and the bar and if it is on the beach or if it has a fabulous view or is in a prime location, show it off!

What is the main target Market? Leisure or business? Couples or families? Young singles? Honeymooners? One size fits all rarely works. A honeymoon couple will not be happy in a family property or vice versa

What star rating or equivalent? Some clients are fine with a 2 star hotel as long as it is clean and well located. Others wouldn’t stay in anything less than 4 star but those clients would at the very least expect good service, good facilities and large nicely furnished rooms.

In recent years free wi-fi and free parking can be the deciding factor between selling one hotel over another. This may seem insignificant but this is essential for some clients. I can understand a modest fee for wi-fi and limitations on bandwidth but I recently stayed in a really dingy 3* leisure hotel that wanted $25 a day, too much just to read and send emails, and parking in London hotels is roughly £35 a day. American city hotels are roughly equivalent. Hotels with free parking are far and few between

My clients want to know distance from beach, shops, railway station or airport, nearest landmark. Does it have indoor/outdoor pool or gym/sauna. Is there a bar/entertainment.

Another piece of information that is impossible to find is which way the balconies face, I get asked for sunny balconies or west facing for beautiful sunsets. If you are lucky enough to have these don’t keep it a secret, shout about it.

Families want childrens pool, ramps or flat ground for pushchairs. Playground, babysitting or crèche, walking distance of shops and beach

If it is all inclusive, what does it include? Is it for families or adult only? Is it local drinks only? How many restaurants are actually included?

Lastly, listen to what we, your customers need and consider this when discussing your requirements with your web designers. We need simple facts rather than fancy bells and whistles. We need the information to be clear, honest and easy to read. This is far more important than information about the local area and a whole page of historic waffle. We need information to be accurate and the location clearly shown. Either tabs or a list usually work best

The closest I have found to the perfect website is Fairmont. The only slight minus point is no internet costs displayed. I would be interested in your feedback

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