Multiple websites for your hotel might confuse your customers and erode your long term business
So I’m a customer. I’m looking to book a hotel online in Galway. Last time I stayed at “The Green Fingers Hotel” so I’d be happy to go back again to the same hotel. Very friendly staff, and a great breakfast if I remember correctly.
I type the hotel name into Google and hit search, and up comes the results page.
There it is, the hotel website – “Book online at the Green Fingers Galway”, greenfingersgalway.com – right at the top of the Google results page. So I click through to the link. Nice hotel website this, I recognise the photos of the nice rooms, the view. I had a pretty good stay there! Prices seem ok too, still reasonable. I wonder if it’s any cheaper on other sites though, like listings sites? Only takes a few seconds to check on other sites. Back to my results page for a quick scan of my options, maybe read a review or two.
Hang on, the second result on the results page looks like the hotel website too – “Green Fingers Hotel Galway Book Now”, greenfingershotel.com. Similar web address too. So I click through on that link. Nice hotel website this, not the same as the last one though! But the same hotel? But this is the official website surely? But then what was the last one? I mean the photos are the same, even the prices are the same, or close enough. Two fairly legit looking but obviously different websites for the same place? What’s going on here? Multiple personalities?
This is like that scene at the end of The Life of Brian – “I’m Brian. No, I’m Brian! I’m Brian and so’s my wife!”
I really don’t like the look of this at all. They can't both be "official". I wonder if one of those sites is spoofing and is up to no good? I wonder if the hotel knows about this? Surely they must check their own Google results from time to time!? They must have agreed to this. Cleverly done though, I’ll give them that, because I have no idea which is actually the official site. They’re both pretty good and pretty representative, though I guess anyone could get photos and logos and run up a website that looks official. But why, I'm thinking, would a hotel have two different websites? Surely at best they'd just send a fraction of customers one way and a fraction the other, it can't generate more customers! Unless of course one is being marketed well to attract a higher fraction of the existing customers at the expense of the other. But if you can do successful marketing with one site, you could equally have just applied your skills to the other and not bothered with the second site. I can't see the business sense in this at all, for the hotel anyway.
But wait, this is getting even better - there are adverts there too on the results page, for both website addresses! Now that is hilarious because the hotel is just allowing someone else to bid on their name and drive up their own pay-per-click advertising costs in response. They’re bidding against themselves! An auctioneer’s dream. No wonder pay-per-click can make so much money for the search engines if people allow that to happen. Guess this hotel doesn’t know too much about online marketing. They really should be talking to experts about protecting their brand online for the long haul, because this marketplace is just getting more and more competitive all the time and customers are getting much more savvy.
Anyway, that’s their problem. I don’t have time to be trying to figure this out, and there’s no button on Google for “Will the real Green Fingers please stand up!”. (Mental note, I should patent a “Will the real … please stand up” button before Google thinks of it). Whatever's going on it doesn't look too healthy to me, no reason I should take a chance.
So I type “Hotels Galway” into Google and go find somewhere else to stay. Shame, I liked the breakfast at that place. Maybe the next place will be just as good if not better anyway.
PDF - Bookassist opinion on multiple websites and their potential problems
Dr Des O'Mahony is CEO and Founder at Bookassist