The UK lockdown has been hard on all of us, whether that’s meant your business has taken a hit, your working routine has changed, or you have just experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. With a glimmer of hope of lockdown coming to an end and a number of our clients thinking about re-opening, we have been turning our thoughts to a website relaunch checklist.

The travel and hospitality sector have been particularly badly affected with many hotels, pubs and holiday parks forced to close altogether. Government ministers have suggested the 4th July as the earliest date we can enjoy our first of holiday experience since lockdown started, and over the last few weeks we have seen the volume of online search traffic for holiday related searches increase as the date grows nearer. Some consumers are raring to go and book their next short-break, so what preparations have you got in place to re-boot your website and be ready for the influx of new bookings.

Preparing your website for coming out of lockdown

If you have been communicating regularly with your guests over the lockdown period using social media, SEO and e-mail marketing you have hopefully seen some steady growth in traffic over the last few weeks. However as soon as you make any announcement for the resumption in bookings you are likely to see a sudden surge in online traffic.

Is your website equipped to handle it? If not, you could encounter a number of problems that could cause you to miss out on bookings or damage your reputation:

  • Your site’s performance may suffer and your pages may load slowly
  • Your website could go down entirely
  • Users may experience issues during the booking process

To avoid any or all of these, it’s important to try to gauge when a spike might happen and prepare your website for relaunch after lockdown.

Technical tweaks

Make sure your website is up-to-date before you relaunch

Updating your website is important all the time, but it becomes especially important when you’re expecting a flood of new visitors.

Talk to your web company and make sure you are happy with the performance of your site and your content is all up to date.

Rule out any web development changes during the first few days of your post lockdown relaunch (unless you really need to).

post lockdown relaunch checklist

Check with your hosting company

If you’re expecting an increase in website traffic, it is worth checking with your hosting company that you have sufficient bandwidth and server specification to cope.

Check with them to see what happens if you hit your resource limit. Some hosts will move you to a higher-tiered plan to accommodate for extra traffic, which is a better option than hosting companies that take your site down completely if it’s using too many resources.

Booking systems and 3rd Party APIs

Your website may well be reliant on a 3rd party booking system or other integrations via an API connection. Opening up your business for new bookings is likely to cause heavy traffic so it is also worth keeping your 3rd party providers informed to ensure you have enough capacity available to deal with a spike in demand.

Hacking Opportunities

With heavy traffic also comes the increased threat of hackers. To protect your data and your website’s reputation make sure you have a current SSL in place, which encrypts communication between server and browser.

Again, check with your web developers to ensure that your site’s software is kept updated and audit any plugins and extensions so that you are running the latest versions.

Test Site Speed

The time it takes to load each of your web pages influences user experience, booking conversion rate, and even search engine ranking ever since Google made page load time a web search ranking factor.

Use a site speed tester like Google PageSpeed Insights to see a broad picture of your website’s load speed. If there are improvements to be made now is the time to raise them before you re-launch.

Double-Check Your Images

Check that all the images on your site are optimised properly for the web, as this will help with page load time. Check that all your images are consistent in quality and size and have an alt-tag to help with SEO.

Ensure Your Website is Mobile Responsive

Give your website the once over on at least an iPhone and an Android smartphone to satisfy yourself that your website (and more importantly the booking journey) can be used properly.

Test the Booking Process and Your Contact Forms

Make sure the booking journey and the contact forms on your site flow properly. When someone makes a booking or fills out a form, do they get an auto-response email? Does submitting a booking lead to a confirmation page? Are there plenty of helpful hints along the way should your customers hit a roadblock? Is your analytics set up to record a booking conversion?

Test Your Links

It’s critical that every link on your website leads to where it is supposed to. This is especially important if you have done a bit of restructuring over the lockdown period. While you are checking, make sure you have a 404 (error) page set up just in case.

Check Content for Spelling Errors, Typos, and Grammar Mistakes

Keep an eye out for placeholder text (Lorem ipsum) that you may have forgotten to replace with content. Make sure all your formatting is consistent and there are no oddities in your copy.

handwritten lockdown relaunch checklistPractical measures

Review your Key Covid-19 information pages, T&Cs, Refunds and Privacy Policies

Your guests will be looking for reassuring messages when they make a new booking with you. Most parks have reviewed their refund and cancellation policies – so just double check these to make sure they are explicit and promote guest confidence.

Beware of scam emails coming in

It is going to be a busy time for your staff as the bookings start flooding in. Be extra vigilant for the few that don’t appear quite what they seem or are clearly “trying it on”.

Do things gradually

We’ve seen a number of household names severely hit by the pandemic and have to take drastic action to mitigate the disruption to their business and their customers.

The high street retailer Next for instance, decided to re-open their website with a gradual process, with only a small range available to shoppers initially. They set limits on the number of items one shopper can purchase in a single day.

The moral of the story is … you don’t have to do everything at once.

Your customers and guests recognise that things might need to be different for a while – so with good communication you will find they will adapt to new (or temporary) ways of ordering or booking with you.

Know your internal capabilities

Many holiday and caravan parks will have already dealt with the major task of refund requests when parks were ordered to close on the 23rd March. However, it is very easy to get carried away with driving new bookings once the lockdown is lifted.

Ask yourself how many bookings can you realistically manage in a day? Remember that you need to have the internal resources to field those enquiries and manage those calls!

Stagger your relaunch communications

You can stay somewhat in control if you manage your relaunch after lockdown with a little bit of care.

Consider staggering your email announcements and social posts – a single message blast across all of your channels is likely to cause a big surge in traffic – so think about scheduling your messaging in order to spread the booking requests hitting your website.

Many businesses rely on a whole host of ways to engage with their customers these days – website, email, social media, online chat, instant messenger as well as the good old telephone. You are likely to see an increase in enquiries across all of your digital channels so think about adding some additional users for the first few days and make sure your staff are trained in how to use these – and have responses ready to go.

Keep an eye on your site

Your web team may already monitor the uptime of your website in order to check how well your site is performing on a daily basis. But when you decide to relaunch it is important to have a closer eye on those tools so that you can be aware of any issues before your customers find them.

measure your websites analytics

Measuring the success of your relaunch

You will have spent a lot of time and resource in getting your website back off the ground after lockdown. Don’t forget to make sure you have the tools in place, like Google Analytics and conversion tracking so that you can measure how well your post lockdown relaunch is going.

Google Analytics Real-time Performance Monitoring is extremely useful to see the traffic on your website as it happens. (It can also be a bit of an eye-opener seeing all of those website visitors turn in to bookings). Which means you can react to traffic surges and other performance changes in the heat of the moment.

These tools will also give you and insight into what channels might be working best for you and where you could invest in future outbound campaigns.

One last check

When launch day arrives, do one last check of all of your digital marketing collateral that you are going to use in your launch campaign.

  • Is your website ready?
  • Have you got Google Analytics in place?
  • Have you tried making a booking through your booking engine and it was error free?
  • Are any promotional codes that you are using set up properly?
  • Have you tested every link in your e-shot that they work correctly?
  • Are your customer support details correct and clear across all of your channels?

Good luck!

Post Lockdown Relaunch Checklist