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A Real-Life Look at the Downside of Renting a Website for Your Hotel

I had such a sad telephone conversation with a General Manager yesterday. It was so sad and disappointing, in fact, that I wanted to share it with you here. Let it be a cautious tale about renting a hotel website…

The conversation started with the GM just looking to get some information about whether Lodging Interactive might be able help him drive more business and booked revenues into his hotel.

You see he proceeded to tell me he had his “new” website created and launched about 8 months ago and ever since the first month his search engine rankings and subsequent direct online bookings had dropped. He was now only getting 1-2 bookings per month!

To make matters worse, and just as I figured, his hotel’s website was nowhere to be found within Google search engine results. He told me that prior to his “new” website, his old site always ranked well and booking volumes were very good.

So I asked him, “what happened?”

What happened was that he signed with a vendor that promised him a fully optimized, latest technology website. A website with full content management so he could manage the site himself.

And the cost for this “new” site? He is renting it for $100 per month.

He invited me to log into the website’s Content Management System with him to take a look around and see if my firm could help to optimize his site. I jumped at the chance to look under the hood of how a cheap and ineffective website worked, or this case didn’t work.

To our mutual horror we confirmed there was no onsite optimization and the website was only ONE PAGE. Wait, his previous website had over 20 pages and now he had only one page?!  What’s that all about?  So we poked around to see where additional pages could be added.  No such luck. The GM was stuck with his one page website.

So here was a one page website with no optimization, a proprietary content management system that won’t allow him to add new pages, no search engine rankings and 1-2 bookings per month. He asked me what he should do. Unfortunately I had to deliver the bad news.

There was nothing he could do except throw away this disaster of a website and start again from scratch with a proper website design and build. I could sense tears running down his cheeks as he expressed concerns on how to tell his hotel owner.

All in all, the GM did technically get what he paid for — I guess that is the good news if there ever was any in this story. Probably less stellar news for the GM is that when he tells the hotel owner what he’s uncovered about the low-cost, rental website he bought into, the owner will likely be looking for two things: a new GM and a new website for his property.