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Why Your Business Needs a New Website

It’s been a few years since you went through the process of building a new website for your hospitality business – and while it may seem like just yesterday, it might be time to start thinking about a refresh. But why does your business need a new website after only three or four years?

Website technology and digital marketing strategy have been evolving at a lightning pace, and guest expectations along with them – what may have been cutting edge three, five, seven+ years ago might not be up to snuff for users today. Keeping your website current with the latest web technology and best practices can help you craft a top-of-the-line web experience for your potential guests. It can also protect your business against security threats and litigation, boost your web traffic, and improve your ability to pivot in response to changing business circumstances and hospitality trends.

A Fresh Build

We could think about your website in the same way we might think about upgrading our mobile phones. What might the latest model have, that one from three-four years ago might not? There are certain quality of life features that we have come to expect from our phones, but also features that keep our phones operating smoothly and securely. Upgrading means we get the latest and greatest the mobile world has to offer. It’s much the same for a new website. On a surface level, new website technology enables a sleek, state of the art website experience potential guests love to see. Modern design and mobile optimization ensures users find logically organized (and stylishly presented!) information, while integration capabilities with 3rd party services like AI assistants add touches of convenience and care that a potential guest would expect from luxury brands and properties.

In addition to the shiny nice-to-haves, many modern website practices also place a huge focus on online accessibility. Many guests experience websites through screen readers, visual aid tools, and adaptive mouse and keyboard alternatives, which many older website builds often don’t consider. For a hospitality business, an inaccessible website experience fails to reflect your commitment to a top quality guest experience, and can also open your business up to pricey litigation under laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act in the US. Building a new website with accessibility in mind ensures the same great experience for all, and an extra layer of protection for your business.

Beneath both the fun features and accessibility must-haves, overall website performance always has the last say in both user experience and digital strategy success. The current gold standard for website infrastructure involves modern frameworks like React.js coupled with a headless build approach that performs faster and with less security risks. While older websites integrate the CMS with the front end, making data in the back end vulnerable, a “headless build” approach decouples a static front end from the CMS to remove that potential point of entry and contribute to lightning fast load speeds. Not only is this a great experience for the guest, but it can have impacts on your digital strategy work, too – Google prioritizes websites that load and respond to clicks quickly, so new site builds focus on optimizing these to a high standard.

A Modern Strategy

For a Digital Strategist in the hospitality space, speed is just one part of a performant website that can convert high-quality traffic into bookings and leads. Other factors include simple navigation, relevant information, and functional booking tools that can make the difference between a potential guest booking directly with your business versus going to an OTA or a competitor.

As in many other fields, digital marketing practices change rapidly and many that were incorporated into a website built a few years ago may no longer serve your goals. For example, crowded sites with complicated navigations that lead to a few very long pages were trendy just a few years ago. Today, however, we know that this kind of site structure could hinder rather than help SEO performance, and wastes what little time a user will spend on the website. Now, Digital Strategists instead aim to guide users on an intentional journey rather than getting stuck in the weeds of enormous page-loads of information. Minimalistic design and data-driven architecture popular in today’s builds help facilitate those journeys, focusing on delivering clear information and driving users to take only a few important actions on the way from first visiting the site to making a booking.

Another recent trend to emerge is improvement in mobile development, driving a more extensive shift to mobile browsing. A few years ago, data showed that while users tended to do initial research on accommodations on mobile, they would swap to desktop to perform more important actions like booking a stay. Websites built at the time tend to reflect that trend with less performant mobile experiences that don’t rank well for SEO or paid ads. Now, users expect a seamless mobile experience from start to end and requirements for good SEO performance reflects that. A new website with heightened focus on booking experience, usability, and load speed helps facilitate the completion of mobile booking and also leads to better SEO and digital advertising results.

Delight the User

Evolutions in technology and marketing are certainly reasons to upgrade a website, but equally important is how our understanding of people and our environment has evolved, too. In many cases, external factors can have big impacts on the way we behave and cause changes at the drop of a hat.

For example – the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed many users’ expectations regarding websites within the span of just two years. Sites that would normally have fairly static content suddenly needed to be updated with messaging that changed rapidly as countries and regions introduced and canceled health orders. For a website or online presence manager, a slow and cumbersome CMS might have gone from being a minor inconvenience to the most frustrating part of a work day. For properties with food and beverage offerings, a short line of copy on the website describing the hotel bar was no longer sufficient – suddenly users wanted information on take-out options, an online menu accessible via QR code, or even options to place an order directly on the website. These expectations became commonplace quickly and are likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

We can pair these recent developments with something that seems fairly constant – people are short on time and have even shorter attention spans. People are busy! And the longer it takes for them to find what they want on a website, the more likely it is that they’ll just turn elsewhere. New website builds not only consider the latest technology needed to meet these desires, but also allow for fast, easy changes and updates when those desires shift.

Though three years may not feel like a long time, a three year old website may already be falling behind in terms of meeting your business goals and guests’ expectations. A new website allows you to take advantage of all the latest technology and features that will wow your potential guests and keep your property top of mind for their next getaway.