In any industry, you have to adapt or be left behind. That’s why Susana Kao, owner of the Best Western Northgate Inn, recently decided to undergo a complete renovation of her hotel in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The refresh brought a modern touch to the hotel that has been praised in guest reviews. But Susana realized that in order to drive more direct bookings, she needed a modern website to match.
The Northgate Inn’s old website was text heavy, slow, and not designed to be viewed on mobile devices. This presented a problem, considering mobile is now the most common way to access the internet.
Making changes to the website was no easy task either. The web designer was hard to get a hold of and every change, no matter how small, came at an additional cost. Susana took it upon herself to find a better solution.
The Northgate Inn’s old website
The Northgate Inn had been a customer of Leonardo’s since 2012, using our digital brochures to improve its presence on third party travel websites and drive incremental bookings. Based on this success, Susana decided to upgrade to Vizlly, our digital marketing solution, to fix her issue with direct bookings.
Renovated Website Design
The Northgate Inn went live with its new Vizlly website in February 2017, and truly there is no comparison.
From the moment travel shoppers land on the homepage, they’re met with striking full screen images of the newly renovated lobby and guest rooms. A visually-rich homepage immediately engages travel shoppers and helps the Northgate Inn tell its unique story.
The Northgate Inn’s new Vizlly-powered website
The story unfolds as travel shoppers follow the simple and easy-to-navigate website design. Travel shoppers can explore the different areas of the hotel, like the spacious guest rooms, breakfast room, fitness room and business center.
The website design also includes a clear “Book Today” button on every page, allowing visitors to select their dates and quickly complete a reservation.
Best of all, the website is now mobile responsive. This means content automatically gets resized for optimal layout on any device, whether it be a desktop, tablet or mobile phone. This is an important SEO factor, especially considering Google is moving towards a mobile-first index.
Another important SEO factor is content. Website content is one of the main ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm.
Our Customer Success Team worked with Susana to identify the unique aspects of her hotel and surrounding area. Based on this, they created content to boost the Northgate Inn’s search rankings.
They developed a tailored SEO strategy, highlighting the fact that the Northgate Inn is pet friendly and only a short drive from the premier golf courses on Vancouver Island. The Northgate Inn’s pet policy is listed directly on the homepage, and “Golf Getaway” is a dedicated webpage with information and links to all the nearby golf courses.
This strategy has paid off. As you can see by the image below, the Northgate Inn is ranking organically for the long-tail keywords: “pet friendly hotels in Nanaimo” and “best hotel for a golf trip to Nanaimo.”
These long-tail keywords are less competitive to rank for, helping the Northgate Inn better compete with the likes of TripAdvisor and Expedia for website traffic.
Of course, driving traffic to your website is just one part of winning more direct bookings. Once a travel shopper lands on your site, they need validation that your hotel is the best one to book with.
Guest reviews are a great way to provide this. In fact, 83% of TripAdvisor users will “usually” or “always” reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel.
The Northgate Inn takes advantage of this by embedding TripAdvisor reviews directly on its website. The Northgate Inn ranks as the second-best hotel in Nanaimo on TripAdvisor. Being able to promote this on its website helps validate a traveler shopper’s purchase decision.
It’s a simple step that all hotels should be doing.
Travel shoppers will seek out guest reviews whether you like it or not. We recommend to include reviews, and other elements of social proof (e.g. awards, user-generated content), on your website. Give travel shoppers exactly what they need to make a booking decision, without having to look elsewhere.
Other Best Practices for Driving Direct Bookings
The Northgate Inn does an outstanding job of leveraging social proof to drive direct bookings.
It’s one of the examples featured in our new eBook: “Best Practices for a High-Converting Website: A Look Book for Hoteliers.”
Download your copy to see how other hotels are sprucing up their websites to convert more travel shoppers.