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Warm up the welcome of your hospitality website copy!

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
Does your business model center on providing hospitality to guests? Do you own a hotel, motel, inn or vacation rental and have a website for your business? If so, the initial welcome you extend to travelers takes place in the copy of your site, and you have only a few seconds to draw the user into the charms of your abode and convince them that the real thing will be every bit as good as your written words indicate.
Falling Flat
Here is a sample of copy being used to describe a guestroom at local inn, 10 Inverness Way, in Inverness, CA.:
This guest room offers a glimpse of Tomales Bay and Inverness Ridge – a great place to hike.
The room is appointed with a freshly colored quilt on the queen bed. An additional day bed is tucked under the pastel eves. The large well-lighted bathroom features a shower. Sleeps two.
$159 + tax and gratuity

I know from personal experience that this inn is a rather fancy place in a stunningly beautiful location. You’d never know it from the description of this room. It could be depicting any room in any state in the country. Where’s the romance? Where’s the draw? It’s completely absent from this lackluster description and the language is on the iffy side. To me, the description of the quilt being freshly colored makes it sound as though it was just painted or filled in with crayons recently- not that it features fresh colors, which is what I think the copywriter was trying to get at. We also see a spelling error in this brief description (eves instead of eaves). Poor spelling and grammatical errors send a low quality signal to readers and reflect badly on your business.
All of the room descriptions for this inn are crowded onto a single page, with none of them apparently meriting more than a couple of lines of text. There is no link to click for further details. It wouldn’t cost the innkeeper any more to devote a single page to glowingly describing each of their rooms, and this would do much to convince the user that every room is something really special.
Getting It Right
Our second candidate, Morning Glory Farm, is located in the same town. I will curtail the very thorough description the innkeeper has provided of her cottage, but provide enough text here to give you an idea of the sense of importance the copywriting is giving to this lodging.
Mornings are especially glorious on this little farm! Nestled in the heart of Bear Valley, between Point Reyes National Seashore and the Olema Marsh, lies Morning Glory Cottage. Wake up to the sounds of the rooster crowing and the song of the Red-winged blackbird, as they sing in the new dawn.
The private cottage garden includes a brick courtyard, with a Tuscan chimeneya fireplace, chaise lounge, Weber BBQ, and a bistro table and chairs for al fresco dining.
The sunny sitting room is bright and cheery with French doors and windows. The queen size sofa bed serves as a cozy lounge during the day, as one gazes out the French doors to the cottage garden or dreamily watches the flames in the corner fireplace.

The original description runs to many more paragraphs of colorful text, but even from this edited account, I come away with a sense of a bright, cheerful and cozy place in a country setting where I am likely to be comfortable. Note the warm and inviting choice of adjectives and the way in which the words paint a mental picture of both the exterior and interior features of this lodging. Innkeeper #2 has clearly invested more time than innkeeper #1 in attempting to communicate to me what I can expect from their cottage, and also, the pride of ownership they feel in it.
Even though one of these descriptions is superior to the other, both are missing out on the most important feature of their inns – YOU! The first description doesn’t even mention guests at all, and the second one is making the mistake of using ‘one’ in place of ‘you’.
What’s in it for me? is the question salesmen answer first, across all industries, if they truly wish to make money. ‘One’ is passive. ‘You’ is active. Look at the difference.
One will love basking in the warmth of one’s private driftwood fire.
You will love basking in the warmth of your private driftwood fire.
The first sounds like a pronouncement or rule about the general public. The second is all about you, and what you will love if you book your room. It’s a much more confident way to include the user and draw them to a place where they are immediately picturing the benefits they will personally receive from accepting your offer.
Be sure that the copy of your hospitality website is putting the You first and answering that all-important sales question.
The Contents Of Your Content
It’s possible to write pages and pages of text without ever really saying anything useful. An innkeeper could write a short story on their inn and never tell the user what he or she needs to know. In addition to conjuring up romance with the written word, don’t forget:

  • Bulleted
  • Lists
  • Present
  • Vital
  • Facts
  • Quickly

Usability studies show that most readers skim paragraphs diagonally with their eyes, looking for words or phrases that really jump out at them and grab their interest. Bulleted lists draw the eye downward in a straight line, giving a basic, important fact with every little dot. In addition to providing pretty prose, list the basic appointments and features of your inn and rooms in this user-friendly manner.
Prove It
Testimonials from your past guests prove to new users that other people had a good experience at your lodgings. Collect as many as you can by providing a physical guestbook for guests to leave their testimonials in, and then be sure to publish these on the main page of your website, as well as the individual room pages.
Better yet, start getting acquainted now with the power of user reviews. If people are writing complimentary reviews of your inn on a review site like Yelp or TripAdvisor, link out to those reviews from your website. What other people say about your business is much more convincing that anything you could say yourself.
Go The Extra Mile For Weary Travelers
Potential guests will have a number of questions in mind when they look at your hospitality website. If you answer these questions, on-page, without them having to phone to ask, you are saving yourself, and the user, time and hassle. Your years as an innkeeper inform you as to the basic FAQs you hear from your guests every day. Write out the answers and include them on your website, and then, go one better.
Travelers are becoming more specific about their personal needs being met by the lodgings they choose. People with allergies want to know you aren’t spraying air freshener in their rooms. Green travelers don’t want to be met with the smell of chemicals like bleach and Lysol in their dwelling for the night. Dog lovers want to bring Fido along for the trip. People with special dietary concerns want to know if a B&B can cook properly for their needs. If you go the extra mile in truly providing comfort for discerning guests with distinct needs, let that shine through in the copy on your hospitality website. It may be the difference between an empty house or a full one tonight.
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