When searching online for holiday accommodation and looking at individual hotel websites there’s a lot of variety out there. Some provide lots of good information about the type of accommodation, facilities and things to do in the area, while some will just give a phone number and a few time-worn photographs.
People looking to spend hard-earned money on hotels should expect minimum quality standards, information they can trust and an ability to book online quickly to secure their choice of accommodation before it becomes overbooked for the dates required.
So at a time of uncertainty over the future of the national star grading scheme and a greater dependence on online user reviews for quality assurance comes the logical and timely launch of the WelcomeWeb Award scheme for websites that can be trusted and relied on to deliver a welcoming experience.
It marks a turning point in the way holidaymakers find and then book their accommodation and gives smaller tourism businesses the opportunity to place themselves on an equal internet footing with large hotel chains and online travel agents.
Not last of all it will help small business in the UK save millions of pounds a year by adopting good online marketing practice and knowing which half of their advertising spend works before saving the other half. With tools like Google Analytics freely available to small businesses there is no excuse not know any more.
But the biggest savings will come through new, zero commission-based channels to market such as Google Places, TripAdvisor, and Holiday Lettings for self-catering accommodation, and saving substantial amounts spent on property inspections that holidaymakers themselves are now carrying out and reporting back online.
With so much dependence now on social media and the worldwide web for finding accommodation, assuring its fitness for purpose, determining availability, then booking and paying online, the focal point is now the property’s own website. The welcome it affords holidaymakers is every bit as important as the welcome given on arrival or they may never arrive at all!
So, how does it work? Tourism websites will register for Bronze, Silver then Gold Awards (with a Platinum Award coming soon). Each award will show a certain degree of website excellence that visitors can rely on for information and ease of use. The first thing WelcomeWeb does is provide a simple checklist of distance-selling good practice for self-assessment and a Bronze Award that assures users they are dealing with a legal entity and business to be trusted.
At the same time a website assessment for Silver will report on any technical faults that might affect website performance and provides a Website Performance Manual to help businesses deal confidently with web developers and to know what they are paying for. The £25 +VAT for this assessment is the only cost of engagement with the WelcomeWeb Award scheme from start to finish but is likely to save website owners considerable amounts of money as well as helping generate new business.
Gold is also a matter of self-assessment with a checklist of items that help improve a website’s usability. Once the checklist has been completed, Gold is awarded automatically given the criteria for Bronze and Silver has already been met.
And finally, a Platinum Award will be announced this year dealing with good practice in the use of social media, user reviews and guests’ testimonials to complement whatever might come along to replace the star grading scheme.
So why is this scheme available now and to whom? WelcomeWeb is a not-for-profit organisation established to help raise the performance and marketability of independent property owners’ websites and gain the trust of users. The cost savings available to small business through using online marketing and information tools correctly will enable them to adjust their room / unit rates to be more competitive with other destinations; fill up weeks in the shoulder seasons, and increase their bottom line profit.
The emergence of new social media channels to market; Trip Advisor user reviews as a de-facto quality assurance scheme, and the verticalisation of Google Places will disinter mediate the online booking market with small businesses needing to up their game to fill the space. It seems that the WelcomeWeb Award scheme has come along at exactly the right time in this new digital era to help businesses achieve this.
This digital document is an article from Real Estate Weekly, published by Hagedorn Publication on May 28, 2003. The length of the article is 459 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Amazon.com Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.
Title: BOMA website wins award. (Technology: Update).
Publication: Real Estate Weekly (Magazine/
List Price: $ 5.95
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