Whether you run a boutique motel, large resort, B&B or vacation rental, your website is your face to the world.
Long before guests step foot into your lobby or get a glimpse of their room, they will choose where to stay (and where to spend) based on the information they find online. In fact, midscale guests in particular rely largely on hotel websites to decide where to book. Most vacationers will check out a few sites before making a decision, so it’s imperative to have a well-designed website that stands out and offers a positive and effective guest experience.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Adi Zellner, head of Wix Hotels.
Here are seven tips for designing a hotel website that encourages visitors to book with you.
1. Tell Your Story
If you own a boutique hotel or a B&B, try to add a personal touch to your website. Now, more than ever, there exists a special power in personal relationships - even virtual ones. When visitors read something on your site that makes them feel connected to you or your property, it will make them more inclined to book.
So don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Tell the story of how you got into the hospitality business or share what you love most about your job. Setting yourself apart from competitors is crucial, especially for smaller establishments.
Remind guests that in booking their vacation, they’re also contributing to the livelihoods of some very real (and likeable!) people.
2. Encourage Direct Booking
For each customer who books straight from your website, you earn yourself the 30% commission that you would have to pay to the OTAs. You can significantly increase your revenue when your website encourages direct booking. Services such as Wix Hotels charge 0% commission and offer complete booking systems that integrate seamlessly with your website and sync with other booking platforms, organizing your reservations on a single calendar.
To push direct bookings, explain the benefits and consider offering additional perks or coupons to entice them to book from your site. Remind guests that when they book direct, they will receive more personalized customer service and direct contact with the property owner. Be sure to keep in touch with past guests and update your website regularly with seasonal sales and special offers.
And of course, make it obvious to guests where they need to click to book.
3. Set the Mood
Remember that your website sets the scene for your guests. To be effective, your homepage should immediately give a sense of what to expect during a stay at your property. If you can make guests feel like they’re on vacation, they are more likely to explore your site and make a reservation.
Today’s technology offers countless new ways to showcase your property with a look and feel to match your hotel, motel or B&B. Video backgrounds featuring sweeping scenes of your grounds and deluxe galleries stocked with large, stunning images of your rooms help make your guests feel like their trip has already begun.
4. Design to Convert
Never let your potential guest forget what it is that they came to your site to do. As visitors browse your site, the call to action should always be within their gaze and no more than a click away. The most effective websites have a clean layout and clear navigation so users can quickly find the information they need.
To add a modern touch to your site, experiment with the new parallax technology. The 3D visual effect makes it look like your background image is moving slower than the image in the website’s foreground. It will impress visitors as they scroll down your site.
If your site has a long scrolling page, include your call to action more than once. When you make it abundantly clear how to book, you’ll increase your conversion rate and in turn your revenues.
5. Show Your Guests Around
While your property in itself is fabulous, vacationers are looking for an experience that extends beyond a good night’s sleep. Let users know that you can help them plan an unforgettable stay, from start to finish. Include a page on your website that lists activities and attractions in your area. Highlight great restaurants, fun hikes, boat rentals, ski trips or kid-friendly activities, depending on your location and clientele and offer discounts to local services through your website.
6. Socialize and Make Friends
Social media is a powerful tool for boosting your reputation and getting recommendations, particularly when you consider that 92% of consumers say they trust social media, word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
Take pride in your guests and let them do the talking for you! Adding a social media feed to your site is a great way to showcase guests’ experiences and it helps ensure that you always have dynamic, fresh content on your site.
Plus, when you feature images or posts from other patrons, you’re indirectly letting others know that these guests give your property their seal of approval.
7. Mobilize Your Site
In today’s market, mobile is the way to go. From food shopping to reading a novel, people are doing it all from their phones. In 2014, 25% of online travel bookings were made from a mobile device; in 2016 it’s expected to double, meaning more than 50% of online bookings will be done on a mobile device.
What’s more, Google now lowers the ranking of websites without mobile optimized sites. That means if your website isn’t mobile optimized, you’ll appear lower in search results, thus missing out on a huge segment of your market.
In 2015, an estimated 45% of travel bookings will be through online channels and this number will only continue to grow. Likewise, the importance of a strong website and web presence will only increase in importance.
With 2016 just around the corner, it’s well worth investing some time in updating your website with an engaging guest experience.
NB This is a viewpoint by Adi Zellner, head of Wix Hotels. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.