700,000 hotel websites compete with each other every day – is your website winning?
It is a tough market (worth billions) to compete in. So, it’s important when developing a website every hotel should be asking these questions:
How can we stand out?
How can we serve the guests better? And
How do we win them over?
Your customers have three choices when making a hotel reservation – they can either make a reservation directly with the hotel through their website, over the phone, or through a third-party website (for example, booking.com and Expedia). But of course, hotels would prefer their guests to book rooms directly with the hotel, as this way they have both direct contact with their guests (they get to know them better) and financial benefits. So, undeniably, every hotel’s website plays a major role in getting those bookings through.
Your website is one of the first points of contact potential guests have with your business, and it may significantly impact how you are first perceived. Because of this, it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to every aspect of the design (both UX and UI design), functionality, and content of your hotel’s website. So, we’ve put together a list of 5 things you should definitely pay attention to and use it as a checklist to evaluate your current website.
1. Know your customer
The key to success for any hotel is having a solid understanding of their customer base. With a good understanding of your target demographic, you’ll be better equipped to create content that resonates with each visitor and drives them closer to making a booking.
Before you start writing or editing your hotel’s website content, conduct research on your guests to determine which demographics make up the bulk of your website’s visitors. This will equip you with a better sense of the kind of material to focus on and generate, whether it’s for solo travelers, families, couples, people enjoying their retirement or any other demographic you can think of.
After you have determined which markets are most important to you, the next step is to proactively produce online content that will engage the appropriate individuals through your social networks and website, with the end objective of increasing the number of conversions.
2. Image quality matters… ALOT!
The majority of people, whether they are going on a holiday or going somewhere for business, want to be able to explore what a particular hotel has to offer, including both the exterior and the interior of the hotel.
The gallery ought to have high-quality photographs of individual rooms as well as common areas, and snaps of enticing scenes seen through the hotel’s windows and details that contribute to a sense of cosiness. If any of these images are missing or are of low/medium quality – it will affect the potential guest’s ability to make a positive decision on the spot.
Naturally, this does not mean that the entirety of the website ought to be transformed into a gallery, but it is essential to strike a balance between quality photographs and the other components of the website design. A creative approach is needed, so if you don’t know much about visual elements and layouts, it’s best to talk to professional web designers. Getting things right on the website is just too essential for your business to leave it up to chance.
3. A mobile-friendly website always wins
Responsiveness is not just a trend that is going away soon. People are increasingly drawn to the idea that they can complete any task they require online with nothing more than the assistance of their smartphone. Even though iPhone screens are expanding rapidly, that does not mean that hotel websites can get away with not being responsive. This is particularly true for hospitality websites where users can actually buy services and complete actions like booking a room or asking for dinner to be delivered to a room.
Unlike with a typical website design, it’s unlikely that your visitors will have much time to read a lot of text on their mobile devices. A great mobile website should get to the point quickly and provide potential customers with the key information they need to know immediately. It should also provide easy and instant access to important functions on the website as soon as the page has loaded, e.g., your booking engine. Build a website that only includes the information that your customers require to make a booking decision online, and take out all of the distracting content that causes them to leave your site.
And while we’re talking about mobiles… make sure your website supports mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay for ease of purchase. These methods of payment are prompt, user-friendly, and reliable; thus, thus the checkout process for clients is significantly simplified.
4. A low barrier entry is key
(pssst… check your booking engine)
The first thing to keep in mind is to keep the number of fields low. In most cases, your hotel website users should only need to enter their arrival and departure dates as well as the requisite number of rooms for the system to be able to provide them with some practical results. If necessary, the user should be able to modify their search criteria from this point onward effortlessly. It is also advised not to include any areas that need personal information from the user, such as an email address or phone number. This creates the perception that a high degree of commitment is required in order to carry out a search, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of searches carried out.
Another thing to do to make the process of booking as easy and smooth as possible is to merge various fields, e.g., use a date range picker, and put Rooms/Adults/Children fields into a single field – this creates the impression that there is only one field rather than multiple individual ones at first glance. In most circumstances, plus and minus buttons are more straightforward controls for these numbers than select drop-downs, and they can be deactivated as needed when a minimum or maximum value is achieved. These might seem like small details, but they make a big difference and contributes to a pleasant user experience.
5. If they can’t find you they won’t come
Undeniably, all of us (just like millions of other people) have used Google to search for the best available hotels and deals, so you have to stand out in the sea (more like an ocean) of search results on Google. When someone searches the internet for “hotels in …” they are likely to find hundreds or even thousands of results. Because of this, search engine optimization (SEO) for hotel websites is extremely significant. It is one of the few ways that you can have a fighting chance to outrank your competitors and attract the maximum number of bookings.
Enhancing your website can take many different shapes, as many different activities and techniques fall under the banner of SEO. You might hear people talking about SEO in relation to keywords, keyword research, content, copywriting, user experience, site organisation, site map, social media, marketing, metatags, and similar topics. All of these are either directly or indirectly related to SEO for hotels too and can have an effect on the rankings of your website.
You will likely want to outsource SEO services, so here’s a tip from us – run from agencies that guarantee instant results – it is a scam 100%. They do not control Google, they do not control Google’s algorithms and updates. It takes some time to benefit from SEO work, as the process is not instantaneous, but it is definitely necessary to increase your website’s ranking on Google.
Telling your hotel’s story is just as crucial as giving a seamless user journey experience to your potential guests. Keeping the UX and UI designs straightforward while also making it simple for visitors to browse is essential if you want to see an increase in the number of reservations and income you bring in. Stunning but simple UX/UI design and effective content will work miracles.
If you feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information above and don’t know where to begin, the good news is that we have both the experience and the knowledge necessary to assist you in giving your website a makeover! Our team of UX/UI designers, SEO specialists, and web developers will gladly help you.