Hey, @GordonRamsay01 – what about the Hotel Hell Websites?

Hotel Hell is my new television addiction.

Maybe it’s because I travel so often, and what I see confirms my worst fears (now my husband understands why I never use the comforter.) Maybe it’s because I love Gordon Ramsay’s in-your-face method of business consulting. Whatever it is, I find the show addicting.

If you’ve never seen Hotel Hell, Ramsay visits hotels around the U.S., and transforms them from “hellish” into “heavenly.” After he’s done, the property is beautiful, comfortable, modern and bug-free (ugh, bugs….)

I enjoyed a Hotel Hell marathon over the weekend. After the episode aired, I would visit the hotel’s Website to see if they were “Ramsay’ed” as well.  After all, he stresses how important it is for the hotels to provide a lasting (and positive) good first impression. A hotel Website should do the same thing.

The properties may be beautiful, but the sites could use some improvement. Here’s what I mean:

When I went to view the guest rooms at the River Rock Inn, there were no pictures – none. There was copy outlining that every room had a “private bath” and air conditioning, but there weren’t any images that helped me get a feel for the property. Instead, there was a numbered list of the type of bed and the rate. The copy literally says, “A Queen sized bed – $110.”  Yeah, that doesn’t really sell me…

The Roosevelt Hotel has a page dedicated just to weddings (smart move.) Instead of telling a story and using the content to promote how unforgettable the wedding would be, only the features and prices are listed. Granted, the photos are beautiful. But the copy needs to be equally stunning and tell a story.

The Juniper Hill site also has a dedicated weddings page. But if the copy reads a little too “optimized” to you – well, you’re right. The headline reads “Classic Vermont Wedding at Juniper Hill Inn” (hmm, I don’t know what a “classic Vermont wedding” is, but I can certainly guess the keyword!)  When I clicked on a hyperlinked keyword, it took me to New England Bride Online…WTF?

The Keating Hotel actually does a fairly good job with their site – and I like their home page Title. However, the copy that describes the rooms is short and full of features (not benefits.) It’s great to read “Oversized walk-in shower with overhead rain fixtures.” But what would really wow the reader (and help them picture themselves staying at the property,) would be something like, “Step into your oversized shower and melt your stress away with two powerful rainfall shower heads.”  (Notice the use of “you” in the revised version?)

(And I’m not even mentioning the scads of SEO opportunities that these sites missed.)

One hotel did get a site makeover, which modernized the design and made it possible to check guest in online. But I would have taken it one step further. Ramsay talks about how the reception area sets the stage for the rest of the hotel experience. I would argue that every page on your site should do the exact same thing. If the Website doesn’t wow the reader, why would she bother checking out the property on Trip Advisor or Yelp? Especially when other sites do it better?

Hotels (and other businesses) need writing that’s customer-centered, persuasive and personal. It should draw the reader in and help them think, “I need to book here now.” Pretty pictures are great. Pretty pictures paired with fantastic content is better.  If you don’t have that going for you, you could be losing conversions without even knowing it. And causing your own “Website hell.”

And, Gordon, I’m available next season as your “Website content expert.” Just ask. I, too, can creatively swear like a sailor – especially on camera. And I am unbelievably blunt. Call me. :)


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9 replies
  1. craig wright says:

    Ha ha ha…Hotel Hell? You Americans don’t know the meaning of the phrase! The worst motels I’ve stayed in in the US are better than most of our ‘standard’ hotels.

    I don’t think Ramsay’s made a British version of Hotel Hell (I may be wrong though)…he’d have his work cut out, I can tell you.

    What does he say to the hotel owners? Let me guess: “I f**king slept in that bed. Oh my God, I could have f**king died last night.”

  2. Scott Salwolke says:

    Heather I’m like you and a big fan of Gordon Ramsey. I think his show Kitchen Nightmare often gives insight in how a restaurant should brand itself. One show that preceded Hotel Hell is Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel featuring Anthony Melchiorri. One of the thing I like with that show is not only does he focus on the hotels, but their online reputations. Many times the establishment not only gets refurbished, but their given all new websites. If you haven’t seen it, I would check it out.

  3. Heather says:

    @Craig, I’m laughing over here, because one of the worst hotel experiences ever was in the UK – we literally checked in and checked out within 10 minutes. I still remember the wires hanging from the ceiling, the stained walls and the big sign saying, “Water is not safe to drink.”

    And you’re exactly right about what Gordon Ramsay tells the hotel owners. That’s one of the reasons that I love his show. ;)

  4. Heather says:

    @Scott – thanks for the tip. I haven’t seen Hotel Impossible, but I will definitely check it out! I’d love to see how they handled the “online reputation” part of the equation. Although I would miss Gordon’s swearing.. ;)

  5. Teri Blaschke says:

    My family operates an RV Park in the San Antonio Texas area. Gordon gives me a great idea. I believe our industry could benefit from his platform of hell to heaven makeovers. Maybe I’ll start it!


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