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A hotel's website needs to make the right impact

February 4, 2005

The true competitive nature of the tourism and travel industry has witnessed a large number of travel companies to make the move on the Internet, where they hope to be successful in reaching a wider audience, and for many years to come.

Research from Failte Ireland indicates that four out of five tourism sites in Ireland have an online presence. According to Jupiter Research 20 percent of all hotel bookings made in 2005 will be conducted online. Bearing these statistics in mind the O'Callaghan Hotel Group understood the significance of making the most of its online sales channel at

The task of the specifically hired web controller, Cara Callaghan, was to conduct what is termed a "web audit", which involved evaluating the group's existing website and deciding how best the site could be developed and improved.

The main focus of the group's web strategy was to direct increased traffic to the website, which provides information on all four Dublin hotels and also includes pages on the group's Gibraltar and North American hotels. With the introduction of an easy-to-use booking facility, the O'Callaghan Group hopes to use that increased traffic to boost online reservations.

In the re-development of the site there were a number of areas that Callaghan decided to focus on. This included making the site more content rich, simplifying the navigation and the design and upgrading the site's existing online booking facility to make it more interactive and user-friendly.

The content for the site was centred around a number of primary keywords which would best sum up what O'Callaghan's was all about. These keywords would also be used in a pay-per-click campaign with search engines such as Google and Yahoo in a bid to drive visitors to the site.

Using monitored web stats Callaghan was able to determine where site visitors were coming from; this knowledge proved useful when it came to deciding on the new lay-out of the site, as she was able to tailor the lay-out specifically for the target audience.

"One of our main goals was to make the site a more pleasant user experience," said Callaghan. "To do that we wanted to make the lay-out of the site more straightforward and appealing while also providing a whole lot more content to increase the added-value of the site."

Working with Dublin-based web developers Continuum, Callaghan created a site which has a clean, uncluttered look. Along with information on all the O'Callaghan hotels, the site also includes useful content on the locations of the hotels - Dublin, Gibraltar and Annapolis - including a handy links page where visitors can find out more about their holiday destination. A content management system allows Callaghan to personally update the site's content to include seasonal offers and competitions.

"Any company which is planning on upgrading their site should really do a lot of research of their target market," advised Callaghan. "A site needs to be customer focused in all aspects. This will help to convert visits into bookings."

Looking ahead, the O'Callaghan Group will soon be incorporating a new hotel into its site. The group has recently purchased a hotel in Boston's financial district and content and images of the hotel will need to be added to the group site. The hotel group also hopes to build on the early success of its re-vamped website by converting the increased traffic into online reservations.

Source: eBusiness

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