It’s time to start thinking about vacation! There have been a few family discussions, and we’ve finally decided on a timeframe and destination. Now it’s a matter of setting up the travel itinerary and making all the reservations. Open up Google, and let’s begin…
Initial results are encouraging. Let's arm ourselves with a bit of patience and begin exploring the many alternatives available.
This turns out to be a typical situation - you might say it happens like this for you as well. So why are there still so many hotels, B&Bs, vacation homes and, more generally speaking, accommodations that DON’T offer a well-designed website?! Do they not realize how much they are missing out on?
It’s probably worth listing what makes a perfect hotel website: perfect for users who can easily find all the information they need and perfect for business owners who will ultimately see their direct bookings increase.
What’s a must-have in a good website?
To find out what makes a good hotel website, let’s play a little game. Let's pretend to be the user who’s looking for accommodations, and let's try to focus our expectations and reactions on the websites we might find.
Ideally, we click on the link of the first site, it opens and…
It's not the connection, it’s the site that takes forever to load. I hate waiting…waiting is synonymous with inefficiency, we’re starting off on the wrong foot. Maybe let it go and move on to the next site.
In fact, it's a matter of seconds. Generally speaking, it’s said that a website has three seconds to capture your attention and seven seconds to make a sale. A hotel’s website, however, must be quick, and in order to be quick, all of its content (starting from the code, up to the images and videos) must be optimized correctly.
Loading time affects user satisfaction and conversion (data: Aberdeen Goup study).
My smartphone’s screen is nice and big, but the text is unreadable, the content is arranged a bit haphazardly, and I’m unable to click on the links. Is it possible they didn’t think that by now, everyone navigates from their mobile device?
According to a study from Oberlo, 60.06% of global web traffic now comes from mobile devices. A hotel’s website, therefore, needs to be responsive and adaptable to navigation from any type of device, consistently ensuring a perfect user experience for users.
Over the past 10 years, mobile traffic has increased and now exceeds desktop traffic (source: Oberlo)
I'm not saying it's unappealing or too expensive. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m just not 100% convinced. What’s special about it? Why should I choose this one? Let's keep it in mind and see…maybe there’s something better.
Let's face it: what hope does a person - or a hotel - have of being chosen when they end up in the friendzone? Realistically, very little.
It's a matter of personality more than beauty. To distinguish itself, a hotel needs to have a clear identity, and the website must be able to communicate this effectively. Only then will customers know why it’s worth choosing.
Aristide di Parigi positions itself as “a hotel for domestic cats”. It’s a perfect example of a hotel with a clear selling proposition and a strong identity.
Look at that picture! Small, grainy, poorly done. It’s not clear if it’s the spaces and rooms that aren’t nice or if it’s the photos aren’t good enough. But from home, how do I know? When in doubt, we move on to something else.
Images are essential because they not only make us see people, places and things, but they also convey emotions. And if you can create an emotional bond with the visitor, it’s easier to turn them into a customer. A hotel website, however, needs to focus on the WOW images. Better to have just a few high-quality photos than many photos of poor quality. And if you decide to invest in a photo shoot, provide the correct prominence with fullscreen galleries that bring the user right into the atmosphere of the hotel and its surroundings. If, in addition to the images, you can also add videos, the result is guaranteed.
Hotel Splendido Mare in Portofino uses images and videos to instantly immerse us in its atmosphere.
I simply wanted to see the recommended itineraries for visiting places near the hotel, but I don't know where I need to click. Is this the right button?
A hotel’s website not only needs to be appealing, it should also be easy to navigate, otherwise it’s all useless. It’s extremely important that the various pages are organized in a logical way and that users can do what they want (find information, send a request via email, make a reservation, etc.) as easily as possible. Pay close attention, therefore, not only to navigation paths but also to labels and button icons. The watchword here is “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
A solid navigation structure is the key to a user-friendly website.
I like everything about this hotel. I wanted to call for more information, but I can’t find the phone number. Is it me or did they just forget to include it on the site?
They probably didn’t forget; they simply included the phone number on a page or in a place on the template that’s so inconspicuous that it becomes inaccessible. And this (of course!) is a problem.
Telephone numbers, email addresses, contact forms, street addresses, interactive maps: everything you need for people to find and contact you are critical elements and must be prominently displayed on your hotel’s website.
Not only in the footer and on the contact page, Suvaki Hotel di Pantelleria also has its telephone number and email address at the top of page.
It all sounds great, but is it true? It’s obvious that a hotel will toot its own horn. However, it takes the opinion of someone who's been there. Otherwise, we’ll just book the one Paolo recommended.
Word of mouth is powerful. “If my friend (whom I trust) liked it, I’ll like it as well” is powerful. It’s easy to take advantage of these kinds of dynamics online. Request, collect and publish customer reviews. Reviews are valuable for a hotel. They increase the trust of potential guests, improve the online reputation of the establishment and, in the event of criticism, help identify areas for possible improvement.
- 81% travelers always or often read reviews before booking a hotel.
- 79% read between 6 and 12 reviews before making a decision.
- 52% people would never book a hotel without reviews.
- Four out of five believe that a hotel that responds to reviews cares more about its customers.
Unbelievable! The site is really nice and well done, but now that I want to book, I can’t figure it out. Everything is so cumbersome that I almost don’t want to anymore!
So much hard work goes into convincing a potential guest to choose your hotel among the many others available and then you complicate their lives just at the moment when they’ve decided to make the reservation?!
Websites and booking engines are often two distinct yet connected applications. Investing in a great online booking system is essential because, after all, it’s the only tool for booking besides OTAs (online travel agencies). Booking.com, Expedia and other OTAs are essential for a booking strategy, but without an integrated engine, there will never be any direct bookings.
An online booking system offers advantages in terms of savings, convenience and efficiency.
It’s April, and I need to book for August. If something happens and I can't go at the last minute, I don’t want to lose all my money. I'd really like to know how they handle these situations.
To gain the trust of potential customers, you need to anticipate their every request and overcome all their doubts. In this case, transparency wins. On your hotel website, it’s important to make the terms and conditions clear, especially when it comes to the possibility of a cancellation. Information like this can be an important purchase lever and, as a result, it should be highlighted on the home page rather than relegated to the bottom of the contractual clauses.
On Booking.com, it says upfront that it offers free cancellation to make booking easier.
Creating a hotel website with WebSite X5
This is what happens when we stumble upon the website of a hotel or, more generally speaking, an accommodation facility that’s not very well done. We don’t like it, we can’t find what we’re looking for or we’re disappointed in something, and we end up abandoning it.
But now that we know some of the main points to pay attention to, we can proceed with greater confidence and create our hotel’s website with a tool like WebSite X5.
With WebSite X5, anyone can create an appealing, comprehensive and functional website, since it requires no programming knowledge and offers a simple and intuitive work environment. We proceed by steps. Once you've chosen a template, you can freely customize it. Then you can move on to the insertion of pages with the definition of all the content.
Choosing a professional template is the best way to guarantee a high-quality result.
All the features you need for creating the perfect website are at your disposal:
- Insertion of text, images, videos, galleries, email forms, user reviews, interactive maps, social media buttons, etc.
- Blog creation
- Support for multi-language content
- Integration with booking engines
- Area reserved for login and password
- Responsive design
- SEO optimization
The solution also includes a hosting service with an automatic domain and free webspace for one year.
With a truly low investment, your hotel’s website will be online sooner than you think!
No more excuses. Don’t say that since you’re on Booking.com, you don't need a website. It’s not true! Customers will miss the chance to get to know you better. They’ll be left with the feeling that you don’t believe enough in your hotel to think you deserve a website. You’ll miss the opportunity to receive direct bookings and position yourself better on the web. With WebSite X5, you can finally create your hotel’s website. Go ahead and give it a try!