No matter how premium your hotel, how extensive your amenities, perfect your location or comfortable your rooms, serving visitors a poor user experience (UX) when they visit your website is a bookings killer.
Even if you have a large paid search budget and spend a small fortune every month on programmatic, influencer marketing and social media, a website that is difficult to use, non-responsive or fails to employ conversion rate optimisation techniques is unlikely to generate reservations.
To make sure your efforts to win traffic over aren’t being undermined by your site, check that you aren’t guilty of any of these user experience horrors.
1. You have auto play videos and pop-ups
If you have animated visuals on your site (such as snowflakes at Christmas time) or videos that auto-play, you’re guilty of a conversion rate killer.
Having videos start playing automatically or music that plays as soon as a visitor arrives on site is a common user experience gripe. It might seem like a minor infraction but, auto-play elements can be distracting and annoying. Some visitors will also find that they aren’t compatible with their device or, hard to navigate away from on a smartphone for instance.
2.Hard to use navigation
There’s nothing more frustrating for visitors than being funnelled through to your website (from a search engine, an influencer marketing campaign, advertising, social media or content marketing) only to find it impossible to locate what they were looking for. If your navigation is overly complex, too simplistic, difficult to locate or otherwise hard to use, you’re almost inviting your visitors to leave and book that hotel next door.
If your website covers multiple locations, clearer navigation becomes more of a challenge. Make it easy for your visitors to progress naturally through the site, from hotel information and making room comparisons to booking.
Equally important given the prevalence of mobile browsing and mobile travel bookings, is the need to ensure your mobile site has a simplified and appropriate version of your main navigation. Often you won’t be able to mirror the structure used on your main site as the menu bar will drop down too far for the smaller screen of a mobile device, or will stretch off the screen. For that reason, a dedicated mobile navigation will need to be developed.
3.Pages take too long to load
If your page takes longer than two or three seconds to load, studies indicate that visitors will leave the site. Long page loading times frustrate visitors and create a poor first impression of your brand. Page load speed is a Google ranking factor so not only will slow pages hamper your efforts to give website visitors an enjoyable and useful experience, you’ll also likely see it reflected in poor organic search positions.
4.Layout is poorly thought out
If your content is not laid out correctly and avoids the basics of readability, you’ll find it hard to convert your website visitors into paying guests. One useful tactic is to treat your descriptions pages (such as room types) like conventional ecommerce product pages. This means having a mix of bullet point features along with a longer form description. Use sub-headers and bullet points to make features stand out, and then add character and give guests a flavour of the room or amenity with engaging copy. Use images and other visual content, such as 360 degree views of rooms or videos to showcase your offering.
Remember the call to action and make it easy for visitors to check availability and proceed to booking.
If you follow these tips and are mindful of your analytics data which will show visitor behaviour patterns, bounce rates and best/ worst performing pages, you will be well on your way to offering a strong user experience and acing your conversion rate optimisation goals.