When to redesign your website

Recently, I was asked by a client how often a website needed to be redesigned. The company was planning for its 2013 budget and wanted to know if the time had come to give its website a facelift. That question inspired me to write a guide, something to help readers evaluate their own website needs.

The simple answer is that a hotel’s or resort’s website should be in an almost constant state of improvement. In order to allow for that, clients should insist their websites be built with easy-to-use content management systems. I have previously recommended WordPress and Joomla as suitable options. The stories that hotels have to tell — be it about their neighborhood, new promotions, charitable activities or improvements to their amenities — provide more than enough fodder to keep a website fresh. Providing these updates also shows travelers — and Google — that the hotel is a resource that should be considered. 

However, there comes a time when a website has run its course and needs to be redesigned. The first question one should ask is, “Does my website accurately reflect the positioning of my hotel?” In other words, is the experience a guest can expect accurately reflected on the website? If not, one must consider a redesign. In my view, a website should be built from the beginning to embrace the four or five key advantages of a property. Whether those advantages are the location of the property, design of the rooms or unique meeting space, the website needs to work hardest at propelling those advantages to the forefront of the presentation. 

There are various other reasons to redesign one’s property’s website. Does the site allow for an easily manageable mobile site? If not, that should be a priority in 2013. Hotels without mobile websites are now losing the opportunity to attract large swaths of customers. Is the website converting less than 1% of its visitors? If so, one should track the change in that number over the past year and see if the website is experiencing a steady decline. If so, it is time for a change.

Ultimately the question of whether or not to redesign a website comes down to math. An independent hotel’s website should account for 30% to 50% of the property’s transient business. For many hotels, that can equal hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars per year. If the website is not pulling its weight — even if it was designed in the last two or three years — it is time to take some action. Investing a few thousand dollars for a website facelift — or a few thousand more for a redesign — could help fuel incremental revenue growth in 2013 and beyond. For a sales channel that should represent such a large portion of business, its generally easy to justify the ROI.