With almost every hotel in the world now having a website and every hotel competing with those nearby for custom, it’s important for these internet shop windows to do their job properly. According to Statistic Brain, more than 148 million people now use the internet to make bookings for accommodation, tours and holiday activities, making up 57 per cent of all travel reservations every single year.
However, hotel managers are targeting a very picky audience – the average hotel bounce rate is 43 per cent, while hotel website conversion rates are typically just two to three per cent, Hospitality Times reports. Some 95 per cent of people visiting a website abandon the booking process before they make a reservation.Sometimes, of course, this will be because of factors outside website owners’ control. However, have you ever stopped to consider that you might be making mistakes with your hotel website design that is harming your conversion rate and meaning you miss out on precious bookings? A hotel’s online presence should be efficient, interactive, easily accessible and user-friendly – so here are some of the biggest mistakes being made in the industry now for you to avoid. Content that’s not user-friendly We’ve all been to websites that present huge chunks of text, front-loaded keywords and difficult-to-find links, and it’s easy to sneer at these relics from a bygone era of the worldwide web.
However, some hotel websites also commit slightly less cardinal sins with their content that can be off-putting to users. For example, there might be descriptions of rooms, but no accompanying photos on the same page for reference, with pictures instead in a separate gallery. It’s much better to have these two things together so visitors can make a quick decision as to whether this site offers what they want. Content might also be organised illogically from a traveler’s point of view, even if it seems correct to the hotel owner or marketing manager. To avoid this, it’s best to come up with category headers – such as location, rates, etc – and use them throughout the site. Better still, make them tabs at the top of every page so that users can click on them for really simple navigation.Hidden contact information You want to present a trustworthy image to your potential visitors, and this means having relevant information upfront and easy to find. For some reason, some hotel websites fail to offer their contact details and address at all, while others bury these details several links in.This makes it look as though a hotel has something to hide – users might think the property is located in a shady part of town, for example, or that the whole site is a scam that will take their money and then be unreachable by phone.Don’t risk travelers being put off. Instead, place your hotel’s name, address and telephone number somewhere obvious, whether it’s in a bar at the top of the page or on a footer with other relevant information. This will also make it easier for people to determine if it’s in the resort they want.Dreadful design Your hotel website is a representation of your brand, so it should be consistent with any other marketing information you present, including magazine adverts and headed paper.
Some hotels fail to recognize this and their site consequently jars by appearing as though it’s completely unrelated.Use the same colours and logos throughout and consider if your colour scheme matches your product offering. For example, business like greys and reds might not look great if your hotel is a beach side spa aimed purely at tourists. Also, don’t neglect the really simple design factors, such as whether people can easily read your content. Many sites from even the world’s prestige brands unwittingly annoy their customers by putting coloured text on black backgrounds, so don’t join their ranks: either use white on black or black on white.One final note in this section is on photos: take your own wherever possible for a personalised approach, as stock pictures can make your site look generic. And whatever you do, check that they fit on your page and load properly, as ‘failed to upload’ messages look really unprofessional. Irritating extrasIt’s tempting when designing a website to use all your skills and show off by putting all the bells and whistles on those all-important pages, but there comes a time when less is more.Don’t fall into the trap of putting auto-play videos or music on a hotel site, even if it’s a TV ad you’re proud of or the same relaxing music that plays in your spa. It’s plain irritating for visitors, especially since many people now browse travel sites on the go or in their offices during lunch breaks.
Similarly annoying are icons that follow the mouse pointer around and restaurant menus that will only open as PDFs – people don’t want to have to download things onto their phones permanently just to get a look at what they might be having for breakfast.Links that lead outAs hotel marketers, we’re often told of the importance of including links to social portals such as Twitter, blogs and Pinterest on our websites. This is correct, as travellers are increasingly expecting hotels to have a presence on such sites from an engagement perspective.
However, the big mistake that some properties make is offering buttons that lead directly out and away from the original site. If a user clicks a link and ends up on Facebook, the chances are that they might start browsing their news feed or clicking related links and completely forget where they came from originally – and bang goes that booking.Avoid this by making sure any links you embed only lead further in to your website, or open in another window. Similarly, if you use any YouTube videos, ensure the autoplay option is disabled or you could find that the next clip lures visitors far away – or worse, to a competitor. Terrible payment facilities Finally, a big mistake hotel marketers make is failing to ensure their checkout pages are easy to use and professional-looking. It’s silly to have a great site and then fall at the final hurdle and make would-be customers abandon their booking.Instead, make the payment process intuitive, speedy and secure and you should find that browsing is converting into booking.See if you can review your site and make sure you’re not committing these same errors.