Hospitality Web Site & Improving Guest Booking
Whether you have a web site or looking to build one, your web site needs to be the web highlight of your property. It makes no difference whether you run a hotel, inn, motel, resort, bed and breakfast, cruise ship… for new potential guests or returning guests, your web site may be the first step into their decision making process.
You want to make sure that your pictures and videos are crisp and clear and really highlight the important amenities yoru property offers. The design of your site must be simple, navigating is smooth and easy, your hospitality site loads fast (now under 5 seconds) and that your site shows properly on all browsers and devices (laptop, cell, tablets…)
Site loading speed
If your site doesn’t load fast, whether people are looking for their next vacation spot or business trip, the last thing they want, is frustration with a page that does not load. Site speed is also important for search engine as, if your pages don’t load fast, search engine will penalize not only the page that is slow but the whole site.
Navigation (links to pages)
This needs to be easy to understand and follow a commonsense pattern, guests may expect for a hotel, motel, inn, B&B, resort or cruise ship. You need to have a good sense of what site visitors want to look at so that your navigation will make easily available different site routes. Your site should answer most visitors’ questions as they go from page to page and do searches. Your navigation should be such that, no matter what page they first found on the web, they can easily navigate to the next page they are interested in.
Call to action
Whether it is a booking widget, a phone number, a chat or a web form, these need to be available or easily accessible on the page they are on or in one step click. Meaning that you do not want your site visitor to have to click on multiple pages to get to your booking page. Your call to action must also be very clear and easy to use. If the site visitor has shown an interest in one of your packages by clicking on it or checking a box and then decides to look around your site some more, that room or package selection should follow them and be easily available on a side bar. they should not have to again find the package they were interested in.
Two Must Have descriptions On Your Site
The amenities you offer and the rooms! This information needs to be presented well with good descriptive information. For the room, you need good pics with description on everything that is included. For the amenities, don’t hesitate to mention even the more common amenities such as a flat screen TV. You need to mention if you have a pool, a gym, nearby restaurants and shopping… Please, make sure that the pics you use are NOT outdated! As a matter of fact, you are better off without a pic than an old outdated one. If you can use photo as well as video, please do so as different guests will like different ways to find out about your facility. Potential customers need to feel so excited about your pics and videos that they will want to share them with others. You may also want to create a virtual tour (see Left Brain, Right Brain & The Hospitality Industry)
What’s Going On Around Your Facility?
Are you close to certain attractions like Disney World or Sea World… Or is close to a theater, restaurants that can greatly influence your customer’s decision to stay at your facility. You may even offer a map of events on your site and if you are particularly close to a point of interest, mention it. Another big one can be events that are coming up in your area. And if you have discount coupons to the events, mention it as a gift they will receive when they check in. Again, as people may enter your site through different pages, this information needs to be easily noticed.
Your Booking engine
Visitors to your site need to be able to sort room availability in a way that makes sense. The most common sorting being price, bedroom types, how many people can stay in a room and maybe even by how popular a particular room is or the room floor. Just in case their sort results in no room, give them options which can include similar accommodations, alternate dates… If you don’t offer your site visitors options, they may just leave your site and go to a competitor. If you have packages options, show them as an alternative to their selection. Some site visitors may decide to pay a little more and take advantage of additional benefits you are offering on a package. It could be as simple as a prepay option. You may also want to show rates that compare booking now on your site and OTA rates. Just don’t go so far as to show rates from online travel agencies that offer lower rates unless you feel confident that your offer is much more appealing to the potential guest. The bottom line is that your facility needs to look best to visitors.
The Booking And Information Form
The form that site visitors will use must be clear and easy to use. It also must show well on, at least, all popular devices – and it cannot just be on the latest devices. Many travelers will be using older mobile and computer devices. You need to pre-test appearance and they are many apps you can use for that. One of them being screenfly from quirktools.com. Keep in mind that in the hospitality industry, at least 60% of searches are done on mobile devices (Cell phones, tablets…)
You may need to have an entirely different form for mobile devices than desktops and laptops. Get as many fields to prepopulate as possible (if they enter a zip code, the city state should appear automatically.) In addition to the form, on mobile, very little should appear as it will only confuse the user. If someone has decided to log in, then preloading all needed personal information could be a big time saver for your site visitors.
Security is paramount to site visitors. If there is one thing you should not hesitate to overemphasize, that is the security of visitor information. Offer as many payment options as possible. When it comes to web browser as in any other customer experience, you want to avoid as much friction in their shopping experience as possible.
If your hotel is not a well known brand, you may want to consider popular third party payment options as with Apple Pay, Paypal… and make sure that credit card logos are well displayed. The amount due at check out, a exact detail of the order showing room type, how many nights, days selected and amenities must show clearly. Your cancellation policy must be easily available (if short, then just add it under the price. Your guest should be able to make corrections to their order very easily and without having to renter any other information.
An easy trust builder is a phone number to your facility. On mobile, make sure that the phone number is easy to dial by just clicking on it. You can also have a chat option. Some people may just have a quick question and offering an easy live chat can make a difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Not everyone wants to or can call.
If for any reason, a visitor leaves your site and does not finish their order, you should have an automated email that will offer them easy help. It would seem bad practice to offer these visitors any kind of incentive to finish their order. Most time, they will just have unanswered questions or just need help with the form and will appreciate the special attention you will give them. Abandoned carts can also be a great opportunity for you to earn what may need to be changed on your site.
Reviews and Testimonials
Although some hospitality businesses may hesitate to put these on their site. Just remember, consumers today are very savvy so, they will either find these reviews on your site, or just go somewhere else to find them, at which time, you may lose them to the other site with reviews like TripAdvisor or some social media site. Trip Advisor will give you the ability to offer the first four reviews for free but, what you may want to do, is have a widget that will collect your own site reviews for your visitors to see. Another advantage of having reviews on your own site is your ability to easily control comments from users.
If reviews are still too much of a step for your hospitality business, you may want to start with testimonials. Some may even say that consumers will not book a hotel without seeing some reviews first but we have not seen that to be true. Particularly for the more well known brands. Irregardless, for the consumers that do need to see reviews, it is important that you keep them on your site all the way to to the booking step. When a consumer does leave a hotel site, for example, it may cost the hotel 20% to 25% in OTA (Online Travel Agencies) fees if the potential guest books their travel through an OTA site. Not to say that you should not take advantage of sites like TripAdvisor but that should be for customers that found you through Tripadvisor first.
Do not hesitate to upsell them as they got through the checkout process. These offers should not be so intrusive or confusing that the guest ends up frustrated and confused.
Please, feel free to contact us and ask questions. We wish you great success.