The 6 Secrets of Good Hotel Website Copy

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When hotels are building their websites, amidst all the excitement over the slick layout, stunning photos, stylish videos and user-friendly booking window, one key element often gets overlooked – the copy. Writing good copy for your hotel’s website is absolutely key when it comes to establishing your brand image, engaging visitors and ranking on search engines.

Here are the 6 secrets to ensuring that your copy does what it is supposed to do – drive customers to book on your website, and then book, book and book again…

Find Your Voice

When it comes to hotel copy, the “voice” is everything. It establishes your brand image, and it lets customers know what kind of experience they can expect before, during and after their stay. Finding your hotel’s voice is easy – simply ask yourself, if my hotel was a person, how would it talk? A venerable colonial-style 5* property would probably speak like a refined, slightly crusty old gentleman; polite, formal, charming and with little tolerance for frivolity. A hip urban boutique hotel would be more informal, slangy and even edgy. A tropical island resort might talk like a hippy – laid-back, dreamy, unconcerned by normal life.

This exercise might sound a bit frivolous itself but it’s key in helping you understand your own brand AND engage your audience – after all, guests who want to stay in your luxury 5* colonial property, with wood panelling and butlers, don’t want to be talked to as if they’re millennials.

The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok's web copy perfectly captures the "voice" of this historic property

The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s web copy perfectly captures the “voice” of this historic property

Answer Guest Questions Before They Are Asked

Visitors come to your site because they want to know more about your property, so make sure you preempt their questions by answering them in your copy. There are standard things that guests want to know about any hotel such as:

  • How much does it cost?
  • What is its location?
  • How do I get there from the airport?
  • How many rooms does it have?
  • Does it have free WiFi?

…and so on. These can be taken as a given for pretty much any property. But there are other questions that are more specific to your property type, your destination, or even your property itself. How to anticipate these? Simply go to Tripadvisor and look up the discussion forum for your destination. That will give you an idea of what travellers to your city are asking about, and you’ll probably even find a few questions about your hotel! Here’s a snapshot of Tripadvisor’s Bangkok forum, featuring common questions about nightlife, safety and taxis, as well as about a couple of specific hotels:

tripadvisor bangkok forum thailand

 

Include Calls to Action

Copy without calls to action is like a football team that never takes a shot on goal – it may be good to look at but it’s never going to win anything. When writing copy, always keep in mind that the main purpose of your hotel’s website is to drive direct bookings and encourage customer loyalty. So you should be using calls to action such as:

  • Book now
  • Check availability and prices
  • Check out our special offers and packages
  • Join our frequent stay programme
  • Follow us on Facebook

…and so on.

The Aloft Bangkok's homepage has 4 calls to action in just this one small area of its homepage

The Aloft Bangkok’s homepage has 4 calls to action in just this one small area

 

Think About the Bigger Picture

With a few famous exceptions, hotels are not destinations themselves – they’re merely a means to an end, somewhere for travellers to stay whilst they visit your city for business or pleasure. Don’t flatter yourself that they’re travelling purely to stay at your property!

Make sure your site has plenty of information about your destination – things to see, shopping, tours, nightlife, transportation, what’s on etc. Such information shows your guests you care about more than just bookings, it encourages stickiness (ie site visitors stick around longer), and it’s good SEO content too.

nam hai hoi an vietnam

The Nam Hai in Hoi An, Vietnam has a great selection of destination info on its website

 

Don’t Forget SEO, But Don’t Obsess About it Either

SEO (search engine optimisation) has evolved over the years. Back in the day it was all about stuffing your copy full of relevant keywords, which, whilst it helped get your site ranked, didn’t do much for the user experience (or the English language).

These days search engine algorithms, and let’s face it we mean Google here, focus more on the quality and relevance of sites as a whole, and sites that give visitors a useful and relevant experience are most favoured. So rather than fill your copy with keywords, think about user intent (why are people visiting my site?) and the user experience, and create well-written, unique, quality content that reflects your hotels qualities and sets it in the context of its destination.

Well-written, unique and informative content from Raffles Singapore

Well-written, unique and informative content from Raffles Singapore

Outsource to a Professional

Many – most? – hotels outsource their copywriting to a professional writer. Few hotels seem to have anyone in-house who can write good copy, and even if they do, that person is often too “embedded” to be able to objectively analyse the hotel’s voice and see the property in its larger context. A professional writer will do this as a matter of course.

How to choose the right writer? A few guidelines:

  • Portfolio – pick someone with a good track record of copywriting not just for hotels but for various types of business – this ensures open-mindedness and flexibility in their writing
  • Location – these days it’s easy to outsource work online to freelancers on the other side of the world, but it’s best to use someone in your destination or who knows it well – and who, of course, knows your property
  • Price – these days, everyone’s a writer, and long-standing professionals are being undercut on price by backpackers and “digital nomads” with a laptop and no overheads. If you find one who can do the job you want, great. But as with most things, you get what you pay for, and your web copy is so important it can’t be done on the cheap!

We hope this article has helped you focus on what is important when writing hotel web copy. We provide effective and affordable hotel copywriting services – to discuss your requirements, contact hello@representasia.com.


Tim Russell is Representasia’s Co-founder and CMO. During his 24-year career in tourism and hospitality he has undertaken copywriting projects for such prestigious employers/clients as JAC Travel, Open Destinations, TRG International, Remote Lands, Buffalo Tours, Trails of Indochina, Duxton Hotels, Six Senses Con Dao and Crowne Plaza Hanoi, whilst his work has appeared in various publications including NME, Travelite, Word Vietnam and Thanh Nien News. He can be contacted on tim@representasia.com

 

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About Author

Tim is one of representasia’s co-founders and the company’s CMO. He has been in the tourism industry since 1992 and has worked in Paris, London, Saigon & Bangkok. He has a strong background in operations, technology, sales & marketing. Representasia is his second business venture, following his founding of a successful Vietnam DMC in 2009.

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