We live in a world of instant gratification. Where people grow impatient over anything that isn’t lightening fast. Where sluggishness is the cardinal sin of any business online. Where travelers ruthlessly abandon any hotel website that makes them wait more than three seconds to load.
That’s right, three seconds.
A slow website is not only inconvenient and annoying for your guests, it can cause you to lose massive amounts of revenue. While three seconds of waiting may seem quite trivial at first, in an instant those three seconds of waiting drastically lower your brand perception, damage your reputation and make you lose sales. And with the growth in mobile web usage, the problem is exacerbated even further, as mobile users want instant access to website info.
With so much emphasis on social media, design and content, it’s common for hoteliers to overlook the significance of their hotel’s website speed performance.
There are five key things at risk if your hotel website is prone to slow load times, crashes or errors:
1. Your Bookings
For your guests, a fast loading hotel website isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. Research shows that modern consumers expect websites to load in two seconds – max. Think about it. Your hotel isn’t the only property vying for room revenue. Travelers are researching travel options on-the-go. If they go to your hotel’s website and find it slowly struggling to upload, do you think they are willing to stick around?
Once their waiting time hits three seconds, they’ve left and gone to your competitor (or OTA site) without looking back. Plus, research shows that 80 percent of those visitors will never come back to give you a second chance.
2. Your Search Ranking
Google’s search ranking formula depends on many things, including your hotel website’s load times and speed. Google has been known to downplay speed’s importance by paying more homage to relevant content. But your site speed can absolutely have an impact on your hotel’s search engine ranking. Having a faster site means Google can quickly crawl more of your pages. And, the more Google crawls, the more of your hotel content will be stored in their massive library. In other words: the more hotel content you have stored, the more chances you have to get found online.
3. Your Group Sales Revenue
Meeting planners are busy individuals. They’re not only sourcing venues, but a lengthy list of peripheral suppliers like transportation, event rentals, speakers, off-site activities, etc. This is where a slow-loading website can be a sore spot for your group sales department too.
Planners don’t have the time, nor the patience, to wait for your site to load or deal with website malfunctions. Dawdling websites can leave planners irritated and impatient, with the belief that your hotel staff will also lack in efficiency, speed and be just as idle when it comes to meeting execution. Ultimately, this can lead planners to sign a contract with another property, causing your hotel to lose out on thousands, even millions, of dollars in meeting and events revenue.
4. Your Bottom Line
No time is a good time for your hotel website to get sluggish, crash or produce the dreaded 404 error message. The worst moment is when a customer has already decided to stay with you, inside your booking engine environment, and they encounter slow load times. The relationship between conversions and website loading can be shocking. Amazon analyzed their website speed and purchases and found that every second of site idleness resulted in a loss of 10 percent of potential revenue. Loading time is one of the biggest reasons why travelers abandon their room reservations online. And, as stated before, once they leave, they usually won’t come back.
5. Your Hotel Owners
Your ownership is relying on you to trump your comp set in every and any way possible: in guest experience, in sales, in F&B quality, in customer service and in marketing. When reviewing your website’s performance, your owners are expecting their investment in the hotel’s site to drive as much direct bookings as possible. And, they’ll be holding you and your marketing team accountable for providing that ROI. Your website is your profit center, so it needs to run at top-speed and optimal levels each and every time.