Before and After: 3 Brilliant Ways One Independent Hotel Took Back Control of Its Website

For any hotelier, having a website that represents the best their hotel can offer to guests is a dream. Of course, many today know a beautifully-designed hotel website is the perfect platform for guests to view everything on offer, and make that all-important final booking decision. They also know they need an up-to-date and optimised online presence in order to sell more rooms directly to guests – and that they need this quite urgently.

By Hannah Milborrow, VP Product, SiteMinder 
For any hotelier, having a website that represents the best their hotel can offer to guests is a dream. Of course, many today know a beautifully-designed hotel website is the perfect platform for guests to view everything on offer, and make that all-important final booking decision. They also know they need an up-to-date and optimised online presence in order to sell more rooms directly to guests – and that they need this quite urgently. 
The challenge, as one of SiteMinder’s hotel customers faced, is that many of these hoteliers lack the staff and budget to have a world-class hotel website created – let alone maintained. Thelma Gray, owner of Cowra Country Gardens Motor Inn, said she was never totally happy with her old website as it was inefficient and difficult to manage. 
She said, “Every time I told our website provider that we had to do something, it would either take ages to be done or it was not done at all. And each time we did have the website redesigned, there was very little change from the previous version and I felt that they were effectively carbon copies of one another. Even the photos weren’t updated often enough. Basically, there was little imagination that went into its production.” 
As a result, the hotel’s website looked dated and insecure – not something you would trust as a resource when planning a trip, much less make a booking through. 
Sound familiar? 
If your current website doesn’t fit the bill, you’re definitely not alone. But it can be daunting and difficult to know where to get started with web design. 
Thankfully, there are accessible website design options for your hotel to explore. If you’re an independent hotel, a good route to take is using an easy-to-use website creator, such as SiteMinder’s Canvas, which can help your hotel gain a competitive website and take back control of your online presence. 
Screenshot of before and after of website built with Canvas
Here are three ways that Canvas helped Thelma Gray take back control of her hotel’s website:
1. Canvas created the hotel’s beautiful new website in an instant with built-in best practice in hotel e-commerce 
If you don’t have time to keep your website updated, then it’s unlikely you’ll find time to redesign the whole thing. By using a rapid website creator, such as Canvas, you’ll avoid all the headaches of a redesign project. It’s really as simple as signing up for a 30-day free trial, then sitting back while Canvas does the hard work for you. The first time you access your new website, via a secure login, it’s like seeing a first draft. You can change the different elements around – things like photos and content – previewing them all, until you’re happy to go live. 
Today, Thelma’s website design is on par with what you might expect to see on the finest independent hotel’s website to give customers peace of mind about the security and reliability of the site, and, ultimately, of the hotel. Where the local attractions and some of the hotel’s most stunning images were once hidden, they now constitute the hero features of the website to better position Cowra Country Gardens Motor Inn as a place where travelers should stay.

Hear it from Thelma, who says: “The website is so different to what is normally associated with an accommodation property of our size and in a place like Cowra.” 
For guided selling and a simpler user experience, the website is clutter-free and features a large, prominent button for users to secure their booking at any point of the journey. In the longer term this will help to increase the Inn’s occupancy rate throughout the year and not just during its peak seasons. In fact, year-over-year bookings already doubled for a month that’s typically off peak for the hotel.
 2. Canvas supports Thelma so she doesn’t need a mass of resources or technical knowledge 
It’s great having a website redesigned, but what happens when you need to update some content or add something new? Many hoteliers work with external web developers that they hired 10 years ago when the only brief was: “Make me a website.” And this is where the control of your own website begins to slip. These developers can often be costly and it takes time to explain what you want, when you want it.

Canvas enables Thelma and her hotel staff to update any piece of content at any time, add brand new pages, or even completely change the theme – faster than the website creation itself. Canvas is an intelligent, intuitive website creator and editor built with hotels in mind. So, if you’re running your hotel’s website without the technical expertise of design or coding, then a website creator like this could be the missing support you need. 
Today, Thelma says: “Having ownership over the website design process makes me feel much more confident about the site, and what is on it. Previously having to wait for someone else to complete any changes when I requested them would become very frustrating as I waited for them to be made. For instance, one page we had required changes to be completed urgently but unfortunately the website designer who needed to do the amendments was overseas for some weeks. You can imagine the difficulties that created for us. Now, I can make changes to my website directly without risking its design or visual elements. As someone with only basic computer skills, this is a key benefit of the product for me.”
3. Canvas ensures Thelma’s website is search-friendly and fully mobile-responsive
The phrase “if you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work that way for websites. Ensuring your hotel’s website can be found by search engines, like Google, is a key aspect of competing in today’s consumer-led Internet economy. A responsive design that makes your website look great on desktop, smartphone and tablet devices is crucial. But how do you do that without the expertise?

All the Canvas templates are fully-optimised for search engines, ensuring you can be found where your guests are looking. They’re also fully responsive, delivering a great user experience on whatever device, and helping you capitalise on the growth of last-minute bookings. It’s now something that Thelma doesn’t have to worry about. The Google rankings for Cowra Country Gardens Motor Inn increased by an average of nearly four spots across four search terms – moving the property onto the first page of Google for the very first time.
Thelma says: “Working with Canvas I was very pleased with the results immediately. The website stands out so much more and I am confident it is drawing people to the town and to our hotel. The increase we have seen in our Google rankings is definitely proof of that.”
If you’re an independent hotel looking to attract and convert most guests, I’d encourage you to take back control and independence by looking into a hotel website creator like SiteMinder’s Canvas today.
 
Media contact:
Maria Franco
+61 410 233 735
media@siteminder.com
 
About SiteMinder 
As the leading cloud platform for hotels, SiteMinder allows hotels to attract, reach and convert guests across the globe. We serve hotels of all sizes with award-winning solutions for independents and groups alike, wherever they are in the world.
SiteMinder’s products include The Channel Manager, the industry’s leading online distribution platform; TheBookingButton, a wholly-branded booking engine for direct bookings via the web, mobile or social; Canvas, the intelligent website creator for independent hoteliers; and GDS by SiteMinder, a single-point of entry to a six-figure network of travel agents and the world’s major GDSs. With more than 19,000 hotel customers and 350 of the industry’s top connectivity providers as our partners, today we have presence in more than 160 countries on six continents.
 
For more information, visit www.siteminder.com.