- Build a website on a CMS platform such as WordPress. The content on a website for businesses in hospitality will and should change on a regular basis. Whether it is a menu of services/food/beverage, a blog, upcoming events or seasonal specials, the business owners must be able to readily make content changes.
- Menus must be live, current and contain pricing. While it is acceptable to have a pdf link with downloadable menus, the menu itself should be nicely displayed on a page that loads easily and is as delicious as the services or food you are offering.
- Showcase your establishment with a photo gallery – whether a website visitor is interested in coming to your establishment themselves or they are considering purchasing a gift card, a photo gallery will make the decision making process easier for the prospective customer. Carefully select images that showcase your establishment and tell the story of your brand. There is no need to overload.
- Be sure that a contact phone number is prominently displayed. As obvious as it sounds, there are many restaurants and spa’s that overlook this detail. The phone number should be visible and clickable on every page of the website as should the location of the business.
- A mobile responsive website is a must for any business in the hospitality industry. That means that the website will adjust itself on a fluid grid on mobile devices. A website should be clearly legible on every platform – whether it is an iPhone, an iPad and Android or a desk top computer. This not a mobile website that looks entirely different from your main website. A mobile responsive website is one website that works on multiple devices.
A logo may be at the cornerstone of the branding process but it does not define a brand alone. Branding runs far deeper and permeates the entire being of a company. A brand is reflected in the customer experience, the logo, the website, in marketing collateral and in the appearance and professionalism of employees and leaders in the business.
It is essential that every business owner embrace the art of branding. Brand awareness is essential as is having a strategic plan in place to insure that the branding message is intentional.
While branding has become a buzz word these days, the importance of it is often neglected in smaller organizations and newly formed businesses. Embracing a brand from the start is easier and less costly then attempting to implement branding 5 or 10 years down the line.
What does good branding accomplish?
- Branding promotes recognition and hence, referrals.
- It distinguishes a business from its competition.
- It tells the company story and creates a connection with customers.
- It promotes a sense of identity for employees and staff.
Start with a good idea, build on it and pay allegiance to it. Solid branding is the foundation of which an empire can be built.
Local merchants who are not offering gift cards are missing a valuable opportunity. Whether those gift cards are sold online or off, local businesses should follow the lead from national retail chains who are peddling their gift cards in supermarkets and pharmacies across the nation. Gift card sales – especially online gift card sales, have many advantages.
- They satisfy an urgency for those who are shopping for last minute gifts. Purchasing a gift card online is easier than a trip to a specific restaurant, spa or retail outlet. By offering an online sales opportunity, business owners are not only satisfying an immediate need but they are expanding their hours of operation to 24 hours a day without having to man the store.
- Online sales help business owners capitalize on seasonal opportunities. Sales will naturally increase at holiday times but by utilizing simple email marketing and social media marketing geared towards gift card sales, those numbers will increase tenfold.
- Making the most of seasonal shopping sprees allows retailers to better prepare for rainy days. While many people use their gift cards within the first several weeks of receiving them the remainder will be redeemed over a period of time.
- It is a fact that 8 to 10% of gift cards are left unused. That is a lot of money left on the table. While this can create an issue for certain establishments in regards to converting unused cards to revenue on balance sheets, a good accountant can help to solve that dilemma. It’s a value worth thinking about.
As in any industry, there are many business owners who discount the value of abiding by today’s best practices in website design. In fact, some of the largest companies in the world make that mistake, just take a peek at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a Warren Buffet led company and see for yourself. The must-have standards that I am referring too are really quite simple.
- The company logo should be clearly positioned in the top left corner of the website. Research shows that it is the best placement location for visibility as users click through browser windows, especially on mobile platforms. Visitors expect the logo to be in this position and when that are placed elsewhere they are often passed over.
- While the “hamburger” navigation menu is a valuable space saver on mobile devices, nothing beats a fully exposed navigation menu on a desktop computer. It allows visitors to make mental shortcuts and to easily peruse the information on a website. Some web designers have taken to including the “hamburger” navigation on full websites and it is a mistake.
- The most important products and call-to-actions should be positioned above the fold with easy to read buttons to beckon users. Many visitors don’t scroll down beyond what they see on the screen. Keep it simple and forgo competing messages and other distractions.
- As of 9 months ago, a mobile responsive website is an absolute must. Without a website that is built on a flexible grid that re-adjusts components to fit properly on all mobile screens a business might just was well post a “closed for business” sign.
Certainly appealing graphics and compelling content will add to the success of the website. But, if a website meets the four criteria detailed above they will have a fighting chance at success.
When a business is in the market for a new website they are often interested in an overall facelift of their company brand. Like anything else, logos, brand identity and websites become stale and dated over time. Change can be scary and many business owners fear that if they alter their brand they may no longer be recognizable. But, even global brands know they need to stay current and that change often breathes new life into an old brand.
An updated website will be responsive and sleek meeting the latest technological standards. It makes sense that a logo should be adjusted with updated typography, colors and graphics. It is highly likely that a company brand has evolved over the years as well as how they do business and what they have to offer. It is important that these changes are reflected in the branding.
In recent years, some of the biggest names in the industry have reinvented themselves including iHOP, Open Table, SBARRO, Google, Ritz Carlton and more recently, MasterCard. Take a peek at this article in Business Insider for more on the brand makeovers.
Every business can benefit from a blog regardless of the nature of the business. Most websites today are built on a CMS platform that has a built-in blogging capability that should be utilized. At first glance, the idea may seem daunting and tiresome to many. Be mindful of the fact that a business blog is very different than a personal blog which often morph into personal diaries and opinionated rants.
A business blog is a tool to help business owners communicate with existing and potential customers or employees. It is a way to share information, expertise and generally to become an authority in your field.
Here are the facts:
- Blogging is a fabulous way to boost traffic to your website, connect with customers and build your reputation.
- It’s simple. Anyone who is passionate about their business and has thoughts to share about the industry can participate by sharing ideas and valuable links through a blog post.
- Blogging is an inexpensive way to keep fresh content on a website that may otherwise be stagnant. New and relative content will boost a websites ranking with Google which makes blogging a win/win opportunity.
If a blogger goes one step further and familiarizes themselves with how to categorize content, the blog is sure become an invaluable marketing tool that can bring a business to new heights.
Guilty as charged. I spent an evening several weeks ago relentlessly searching for a particular pair of leather leggings by a favorite brand. Had I known that Facebook was tracking my every move and intended to taunt me with reminders of my obsessive quest, I might have used caution! I have since been creeped by Facebook advertisements by that brand that appear on every web page that I visit. Where are the boundaries?
Thankfully, there is an easy way to put of a stop to these ads. Simple go to the settings section on your Facebook page and select the Ads tab. There you will have the ability to turn off Ads and Apps in various capacities. Be aware that this will not stop Facebook from gathering personal information on your habits nor will it stop ads from appearing altogether but it will provide an illusion of privacy.
Recently a client asked me how she might easily add symbols and special characters to her WordPress posts. While this is a question that may belong in the WP101 textbook, the answer was not on the tip of my tongue. A simple Google search told me that a special plugin was not necessary to accomplish this task. The tool is readily available on the WordPress editing dashboard. Simply click on the “Kitchen Sink” icon in the toolbar in order to expand the available options as shown in the example below.
This will expose the Special Character Icon which, when clicked, will open the associated panel. (As shown in the image below.)
To think how often I’ve copied and pasted these characters into position when they were at my disposal the whole time. File under: #Goodtoknow!
A website needs a seasonal cleaning just like a garage or a closet. Although the task may seem daunting at first there are a few rules of thumb to follow that should simplify the process.
- Categorize material as trash or treasure and discard accordingly. For example, photos that are dated can be replaced and stale content can be refreshed. The old Facebook feed is no longer necessary as a simple button will do the trick.
- Make use of negative space – a little breathing room is a good thing! It draws attention to the elements that matter and will more likely prompt a call to action especially for those viewing a website on a mobile device.
- Remember the 80/20 rule. That is that 80 percent of the effect comes from 20 % of the causes. Which 20% of the content on your business website is the most important?
- Reduce the number of navigation links and pages. The main navigation menu should have no more than 5 to 7 primary links. The bottom line – less is more.
We know that people, in particularly women, use Pinterest to find things – shoes, guacamole recipes, scented candles – but what about the local the area’s most wanted criminals or your grandmother’s gold wedding band that was stolen 20 years ago? Ever since the FBI used Facebook to locate the notorious James “Whitey Bulger” police departments across the nation have become social media fans.
Whether it is the mug shots of local criminals or photos of stolen goods that were confiscated and should be returned to their rightful owner – police departments are proving themselves to be social media savvy. Digital platforms are being used more than ever to solve crimes and connect police officers with their communities.
There’s the story about the police force in Richmond, VA that used Pinterest to solve a murder case, the police department in Pottstown, PA that is using Pinterest to post mug shots of their most wanted and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department uses Pinterest to showcase the good, the bad and the ugly in their line of work. At last count, 85 boards had been created by law enforcement professionals. It is just another indication that social media isn’t just for girls but it is in fact changing the way that we communicate and conduct business as a society.