Whether you own a small boutique hotel or a much larger property, you will share one thing in common with your peers and competitors: you want your guests to come and book their rooms directly with you. That’s because every time someone books with an online travel agent or price aggregator site, commission percentages of anywhere between ten and 25 per cent are taken away. That can seriously eat into your bottom line. What’s more, you lose the ability to capture vital marketing information about your guests when they don’t reserve rooms with you.
Encouraging direct bookings is a way of cutting out the middle men, building a loyal customer base and promoting your brand’s image, as well as boosting revenues. Importantly, even people who might be planning to book through a third party sometimes come to your website to check you out and see what you’re offering – and that’s your vital chance to capture them and have them whipping out those credit cards. However, in order to do this, you need to ensure your site is perfectly tailored for conversion and that your website design is focused on this as opposed to simply what looks good (although it should look great too!).
If you’re keen to carry out a bit of an overhaul and are looking into website design for hotels, here are a few tips that might help you out and potentially lead to a better rate of conversion.
Keep the call to action clear
It’s essential that you don’t have a cluttered homepage, but instead keep it focused on the call to action (CTA) – which might be something like ‘check availability now’ or ‘stay with us’. This will draw your visitor’s eye in and subconsciously make them more susceptible to booking.
There are also other tricks you can implement, such as using contrasting colours on your CTA and putting subtle symbols like arrows in place that lead to your CTA button. There’s lots more information on this and things like colour psychology available online and in our archive of past articles, so do consider it as a tactic.
Show off why you’re unique
There’s bound to be something that makes your hotel stand out from others nearby, whether that’s proximity to theaters and shops or the fact that it offers horse riding lessons in the wilderness. You’ve got to show these things off – being a wallflower won’t help your bottom line!
Create demand through imagery
The internet is very image-focused these days, with sites like Pinterest and Instagram having exploded in popularity. They work because they encourage people to aspire to have or experience what’s in the pictures – and you can do this with your hotel too. Have high-resolution, interesting photos taken that tell your hotel’s story and show people enjoying your services, then place them prominently on your pages with links to social media. You’ll make people want to share them and make a booking with you.
Be persuasive with your content
You should already have some content published on your blog and landing pages that aims to encourage direct reservations, but don’t forget to continue this throughout the entire site. It’s not pushy to be persuasive (as long as you don’t go too far, obviously) – instead, it creates a psychological motivator that makes visitors concerned about missing out and more likely to book direct. Persuasive content includes showing how many rooms are available and highlighting limited offers – take your cues from the online travel agents if you want to see how it works.
Prove you’re trustworthy
A lot of money changes hands when holiday bookings are being made and this can understandably make travellers wary. How do they know you’re who you say you are and not someone who’s going to con them out of thousands of pounds? You can reassure visitors to your site by displaying logos they’re familiar with that prove your trustworthiness, such as TripAdvisor review medals, credit card logos and PayPal acceptance buttons.
Don’t forget to show off padlock signs and SSL encryption ID when it comes to the booking pages either.
Make direct contact easy
It’s common now to go through the entire hotel booking process online without speaking to anyone in person. However, sometimes issues can occur that necessitate direct contact, or people come along who simply feel that need for human input. Show that you can offer the personal touch when would-be guests visit you by including your phone number and office hours in regular places on your website.You might even want to consider implementing chat facilities so that you can be contacted when the reception desk is unmanned. This can avoid easy business being lost.
Limit the number of steps to booking
A long, complex, drawn-out booking process is a real turn-off and is likely to drive people who might otherwise have stayed directly with you straight back to the OTAs. Demonstrate that you’re keeping it simple by limiting the number of clicks it takes to make a reservation – and leave creating an account until afterwards, as well as making it an optional stage for those who simply don’t want to.
Make your site responsive
Last but certainly not least, you need to consider that many of your visitors today will be coming via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, not just desktop PCs. It’s therefore essential to make sure that your site works for every screen and is optimised for responsive design features.
We have lots of information on this topic in our previous articles, so do take a look through if you’re at all unsure of how to go about it. As you can see, these are all relatively easy design techniques to implement, but they could make a real difference in keeping hold of visitors and capturing those direct bookings. Why not give them a try?