I have a project I am working on for a lodging organization, it includes going to every member’s website and gathering together their social media links, or in many cases, lack there of, and in the process I am looking over their sites and noticing things.
Of the 500+ member pages I’ve managed to take a hard gander at so far, these are some things that have stuck out as significant problems. Issues are not just social media related, there are usability issues, image issues and contact-ability issues, which means that A. web developers are not paying attention, B. innkeepers are trusting their web developers to pay attention and they are not, and C. there’s a darn lot of innkeepers out there not paying attention to their websites.
I’ve noticed many of these things over the years as well looking at B&B sites, this project kind of condenses the issue into where it really hit me over the head.
Your website is generally your 1st point of contact between you and your guest. If it’s broken or portions of it are broken, potential guests are not going to tell you, they will go somewhere else = Lost revenue!
I found the following things on inns/B&Bs websites. If I found more than 25 of them on various websites they made the list. Percentage wise, that’s a big ouch. Statistically over 3/4 of them had at least one of these issues.
1. Click here/click link to email or click button to email: I know people don’t want their email addresses public because they will think spammers will get a hold of their addresses and they will get more spam. Guess what folks, most of the spammers are automated now and they go through your source code and grab your email addresses automatically, it doesn’t matter whether they are “public” or not.
If your guests are using Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or any other web-based email system, including the Outlook web app, you can’t just click to email, you have to right-click on your link/button/image, if you have a PC, (I have no idea anymore on how to do it on a Mac) and then copy the link and paste in into their email program.
Do you have any idea what a pain that is? Or how many bookings you’ve lost because someone wanted to email you and can’t easily?
2. Social Media Links. Many many, many inns had social media accounts, namely Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts (and they were active accounts) with no listings to them on the home page of their sites or anywhere else on the website for that matter. Facebook (lack of links) was a clear winner with over 100 B&Bs (out of 500+) actively using Facebook with no links to their pages from their websites at all.
Folks you have to TELL people you are on Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest and Youtube, etc. etc. People don’t just go to those channels and search for your inn.
3. Web forms. “Submit your information and have the inn contact you.” Have you tested yours recently? I recently had a case of an inn I know whose web form malfunctioned and they potentially lost several thousand dollars worth of revenue, because the web form didn’t copy the email addresses that were being submitted for information. Down one big wedding and a bunch of room bookings.
Web forms are notorious for not working or stopping working. If you have them, test them regularly.
4. TYPOS, need I say more?
5. Social Media links with no content or very, very outdated content/posts. I think we can point a clear finger at web developers for that one, but partial blame lies on Innkeepers for letting them put them on. If you’re not going to use Pinterest, don’t let your web developer add a link, If your going to stop using Twitter and your going to let your last post be from 2 years ago, then for crying out loud take the link off.
6. Cute phone numbers. Ok so I only saw a dozen or so of these, but it’s a personal pet peeve of mine, so it made the list. Call 1-888-Jan-eDoe for the Jane Doe Inn, instead of Call 1-888-Jan-eDoe (1-888-526-3363).
Have it spelled out so it makes it quick and easy to actually call someone, instead of puzzling through the numbers. For a normal person this is a pain in the tuckus in the first place, for someone with dyslexia (like myself, which is why it’s a pet peeve) it takes me about five minutes to puzzle through the numbers/letters.
7. Facebook “like box” misusage. Having the like button on your page, where someone can like it, is liking your website and sending the information to Facebook that someone has liked your website, it does not mean they are liking your Facebook page.
There is a big difference between this:https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/like-button
https://www.facebook.com/badges/ and icons.
9. Photo placement on pages. Look at the site from the perspective of a customer. Look at it like you’ve never seen it before. What do you see?
I thought this one above was funny, but the one I saw yesterday of the “We Are Pet Friendly” dog (top) where it looked like it was peeing on the muffin shot underneath took the cake. I’d take a screen shot but it had the inn’s name on it. So just use your imagination.
10. Social Media links with incorrect URLs. lots of http://www.www.twitter.com/janedoeinn and http:////www.facebook.com/janedoeinn etc. or links that lead just to the social media platforms but are not connected to anything at all. Even though the inns do have social media accounts and are actively using them.
11. Misspellings in the about/bio sections of their social media accounts and links in those bios that are out of date or incorrect (see above).
12. Copyrighted photos. I came across several sites that had clearly watermarked photos from stock photo sites on them. Ooops. At least buy the stock photos so they don’t have watermarks (also so you don’t have the stock photo companies coming after you). I also came across more than a few images clearly snitched from Google images.
Just because it’s on Google images does not mean it’s copyright free. If one of those is a Getty image, you won’t see a watermark, it’s embedded, but you will get a letter from them demanding $1500 and up, and they WILL set collections on you, be warned, even if you take the image offline pronto. If you don’t know where every single image on your website originated, whether it be from you, a professional you paid, or from a documented bought stock photo site, you need to replace those images ASAP and fire your web developer.
People whose images you might have used illegally, and Getty don’t go after the web developer, they go after you, the owner of the site.
13. Out of date information on sites. Saw a lot of this, blogs are one thing, but having specials pages advertising Special Offers from 2011? And Christmas Packages from 2009?
Innkeepers, look at it this way, weigh how much time it takes you to go through your website periodically and double-check to see if everything works like it should and looks like it should, vs how much potential revenue you could lose/have lost/could be losing in the future due to things that don’t work or look like they should for a potential guest.
Please also see 5 Digital Housekeeping MUST DOs in the New Year for Innkeepers