An attractively designed, easy to use website can make the difference between potential guests who book and those who drift away to other properties. Guests have plenty of hotel sites to choose from, but only some of them are truly exceptional. Many more are difficult to use, don’t provide enough information, or seem like nothing more than an unappealing sales pitch.
Your hotel’s website serves as a first contact for guests. If you want your website to serve as an asset for booking business, follow these steps to improve your site’s design:
1. Understand your guest’s mind set
Examine your target audience and consider how your website appeals to these individuals.
- If your property is billed as a family vacation spot, use bright, bold design and emphasize all the child friendly activities and features you offer.
- For a fun, seasonal getaway destination, add splashes of colour for vibrancy.
- If your property is a luxury hotel, stress the gourmet restaurant and spa, and use a subdued colour pallet to convey elegance.
2. Represent your brand
Think about how you can best represent your brand visually. If your property is part of a chain then you’ll have to follow certain branding elements such as the colour scheme and logo, but even so you’ll have some flexibility in how your property is portrayed.
Independent properties have more freedom. But in most cases, you’ve already spent years and invested many thousands of dollars in branding your property, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Your best bet is to hire a designer who can capture what is unique about your property and portray it in a way that is true to your brand.
3. Aim for simplicity
Don’t put too much text on a page. Instead, invest in high quality photography and let the images tell the story of your property. Keep in mind that many potential guests will come to your website via tablets and smartphones, so your site needs to look good on a small screen. The best way to achieve this is to keep things simple.
4. Look to others for inspiration
Check out your competition to see what they are doing and look at the major hotel brands, as they have a large budget to produce a high quality site. Take notes on what seems to work well and what you may want to avoid.
Look outside the hotel industry for fresh ideas. Google web design firms and look at their design portfolios. Check out the nominees and winners of Webby Awards to observe current trends and look at top-notch design.
5. Create a design board
As you are researching other hotel properties and looking for inspiration, it helps to create a visual board of promising ideas. They may not all fit together and you’ll probably end up discarding some, but creating a centralized space can help you brainstorm and can be very useful if you decide to hire a design firm.
Pinterest is a good platform for gathering visual ideas. You can create as many design boards as you like to organize your research. Organizing around themes lets you try out different approaches to see what fits best with your brand.
6. Pay attention to metrics
Once you’ve successfully created or redesigned your website, your work is not done. Modern websites provide a lot of data about where traffic comes from and how users behave on your site. Specifically, you can track the percentage of potential clients who leave without booking and at what point they abandon your site.
Is there a specific problem spot? Perhaps your room booking system is difficult to use on a smartphone, or guests are encountering some other issue. Paying attention to metrics can help you determine any design areas that still need to be addressed.
Your web site should be a visual vacation for your guests, to draw them in and get them excited about their future stay. Bland or cookie-cutter sites don’t draw attention. You need a site that tells your story and lets guests know what is unique and inspiring about your property.