Usability errors to avoid
8 common hotel website mistakes
The hospitality industry is intensely competitive and standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. The competition is set to intensify due to the growth of disruptive peer-to-peer online booking sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com.
Clearly, hotels need to up their game and set themselves apart from their competitors. Having a stylish website that is easy to find on search engines has never been more important, yet many hoteliers are still getting the basics wrong. We outline our top eight most common usability mistakes made by hotel websites.
1. Not mobile-friendly
People do their travel research on-the-go and expect to be able to review hotel websites and make bookings from their mobiles and laptops. In 2016, mobile web browsing overtook desktop for the first time so if your hotel website is not mobile-friendly, you are missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers.
2. Not displaying reviews and credentials
Trust is a major factor when customers are making a decision to buy online. They will only buy from you if they feel safe and confident about your business. Displaying your industry accreditations and protocols such as SSL certificates will inform visitors that your hotel website is secure.
Reviews are another way to establish trust in customers. You can easily embed TripAdvisor reviews onto your website, and you should always respond to users who leave feedback, whether positive or negative, to show you care about what your guests are saying.
3. Slow loading sites
There's nothing more off-putting than a website that takes too long to load. Anything longer than a few seconds and visitors will leave your site before they've even looked at it. This can have a serious impact on your search engine optimisation (SEO) since site speed is favoured in Google search engine algorithms. Make sure your images are compressed and optimised and avoid unnecessary use of flash.
4. Not displaying hotel and room images
If you don't display enough images of your rooms and facilities, customers will think you have something to hide. Make sure the images you do display are of high quality and that they reflect your hotel's brand and style. Where possible, avoid stock photography - customers want to see what the room, lobby, restaurant and swimming pool look like, and what they can expect to get if they book with you.
5. Not having a strong call to action
You need to ensure that customers can easily book or enquire on your website by providing a strong call to action on every single page. This could be an enquiry form, a prominent link to the booking page or an online chat facility. If you don't make it obvious enough how to book, you will lose customers to other websites.
6. Making the booking process too complicated
The booking process needs to be simple and seamless. If the website has a long, convoluted procedure to book rooms, customers will leave without completing the form. Determine what's absolutely necessary and narrow that down to two pages or less to completion.
7. Phone number is too hard to find
This seems so obvious yet so many hoteliers don't do it - make your phone number appear prominently on your site, not just in the footer. Despite living in a digital age, many people still prefer to speak to a real person when making a booking so you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you.
8. Poorly embedded YouTube videos
If you are embedding YouTube videos onto your site, make sure you use the settings available on YouTube to prevent people from getting distracted and leaving your site. For example, make sure you uncheck the box 'Show suggested Videos When Video Finishes' so that YouTube doesn't automatically suggest videos from competitors in the area which could drive traffic away from your site.