How To Design An Award Winning Hospitality Website

This week we attend the 2016 Online Marketing in Galway (OMiG) awards as a finalist in the best website category and OMG are we delighted with ourselves.

This year we re-launched and we wanted to create something that would inspire our existing and prospective customers to move from our social networks to our website. So we hatched a digital plan!

We contracted the services of Digital Training Institute and ahead of the awards we asked their CEO Joanne Sweeney-Burke to tell us what makes a winning website for the hospitality sector.

10 steps to creating an award winning hospitality website

  1. Design

If it doesn’t look good aesthetically visitors won’t hang around too long. We have 1-3 seconds to engage somebody on our site, so first impressions definitely count. Your design should reflect your brand identity and this year The Skeff Bar & Kitchen re-branded so we incorporated the fonts, pantone colours and shape of the logo into the website. It’s important that your brand (visible anywhere on the web) is consistent.


2. Mobile Responsiveness


We have no choice but to think mobile first. More than 50% of Google searches now happen on mobile, while the majority of social networking is done with smartphone in hand. The traffic figures to The Skeff website reflect this trend and so it was vital we tested the website on mobile (iOS and Android) for usability. While there are features that appear on the desktop site, such as rotating banners, they are deactivated for the mobile site.

3. SEO

Onsite and offsite search engine optimisation are vital to the performance of your website on search engines. We completed a full SEO audit and improved the website’s rankings on search engine results pages almost immediately. KISSmetrics have an excellent step-by-step SEO guide that you should follow for any new website launch.



4. Customer Conversion strategy

It’s one thing attracting traffic to your website. But do you want them to do when you get them to log on? This is where many web strategies fall down. The Skeff’s website is already converting traffic for e-zine subscribers, the Skeff Rewards Scheme, recruitment, focus group panel sign-ups, event attendance and engagement in various innovative campaigns.


5. Integrating social media

Skeff Buzz

Social media is a vital part of the marketing mix for a hospitality business. So integrating your social networks into your website is crucial. Not only has direct links to all their social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube – but we also created a Skeff Buzz landing page which aggregates user-generated content.

Skeff Social Media

Skeff Social Media

6. Be a Magnet for Traffic

Skeff Blog

You’ve got to design a website that is aimed at your audience, is appealing to search engines (technically) and is creative with its content. First and foremost you must ensure you have all the information that a customer could potentially need or want. In the case of The Skeff Bar & Kitchen, it’s about providing menus, opening hours, contact details, links to social networks and their entertainment calendar. But an active blog can act as one of the key lead magnets for the site. So make sure you have a blogging strategy just ask The Skeff does.

7. campaigns

Showcase campaigns prominently on the site which capture the interest of your visitors. These should be featured in a timely manner, so removed when the campaign ends. For example The Skeff developed Tag Team which encourages young people and students to plan how they are going to get home after a night out. A dedicated landing page on the website contained all the information – two videos, an infographic, links to the Facebook App, photos and a blog post.


8. Imagery

Nothing beats original imagery on a website and The Skeff management commissioned Julia Dunin to photograph all aspects of the business from Eyre Cocktail Bar and its menu to Vault Whiskey Bar, the food offering and customers enjoying match-time. An investment in photography is one that is well spent.

manhattan French Mojito Mai Tai

9. Videos

As with original photography, having videography of your establishment brings your website to a whole new level. The Skeff Bar & Kitchen have commissioned a series of videos which personalises the website and gives a great insight into the buzz, culture and product range at Galway’s official meeting place. Make sure your staff are front of camera in all videos and don’t forget to include videos too. With a little friendly nudge, The Skeff staff got super involved and they look great in front of the camera!


10. Landing pages

A landing page is a web page that appears when a visitor clicks on a pay per click ad or a search engine result link. The home page of a website is not the only landing page; every page in a website has a purpose and is a potential search engine landing page. It also is a highly engaging page that convinces a visitor into taking an actions such as subscribing, downloading, applying, submitting, booking, buying or attending.

An example on The Skeff website is the landing page for their Focus Group.

Skeff Focus Group\

Skeff Focus Group

Skeff Focus Group

Will you follow lead and create a winning website for your hospitality business?