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Web Design

Inspiration can come from many sides, especially in the hospitality industry where both new and emerging brands push the envelope on a seemingly daily basis. While you may have looked to brands like Disney and their plans to introduce robots to their hotel or studied Hilton and the way its managed to endure over the course of one hundred years, you may have overlooked one very obvious source of inspiration.

In fact, a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular tourism board websites has revealed a host of trends and superb user experience initiatives – plenty, in fact, to give you lots of inspiration and ideas to feed your hotel website design company for months to come. So, who’s getting it right and how does your hotel stack up when it comes to implementing these user experience and design trends?

Trend 1: Interactive video

As marketers, we all know how important video content is, but one tourism board has taken it a step further and introduced the interactive video. Visit Idaho is one such example – its site has a 360-degree video which gives viewers the chance to experience what it’s like to zip line through an Idaho forest. Virtual reality is also slowing creeping in. Even if you can’t offer fully interactive video on your hotel site, adding video in general and considering features such as 360-degree rotation is one user experience trend we expect to see a lot more of in 2018.

user experience

Trend 2: Smart destinations are played up

You can enhance your user experience simply by being upfront with your visitor. The first thing that greets visitors to the Panama tourism board website, for example, is an announcement that Panama “is for travelers, not for tourists”. The lesson? Offering a superb user experience begins on your site, not with cutting-edge technology or expensive gimmicks but with honest, clear and compelling content, descriptions and representations of your brand. Is your hotel at the top of a brutal San Francisco hill? Own it. Miles from the nearest high street chain coffee shop? Own it. Be smart about your user experience by representing it honestly.

Trend 3: Don’t shy away from user-generated content

Tourism board websites are increasingly savvy when it comes to social media – in fact, some of them are embracing user-generated content wholeheartedly in their bid to harvest Insta-worthy images to draw in the crowds. Embedding an Instagram feed into your hotel site is something that your hotel website design company should be able to achieve quickly and easily.

If you need inspiration for this trend, look no further than Visit Greenland. It makes superb use of Instagram imagery to truly showcase its destination in spectacular Technicolor. The homepage includes an ‘In The Spotlight’ slider for example, which showcases three aspects of Greenland, with picture-perfect images that have an Instagram influencer look and feel.

You can begin to harness this tactic and the power of Instagram easily to tap into this trend – simply ask your guests to share your images using a particular hashtag. You can also search for your hotel as a place on the Instagram search option.

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Digital Marketing, Web Design

Have you asked yourself lately – or better yet, extensively tested – how well your website and your hotel booking engine perform on a mobile device? If the answer is no or not that recently, the following stats regarding the ever growing link between a responsive website and revenue streams for your hotel are certain to be of interest.

According to a 2017 survey, over half of all traffic to hotel websites now comes from a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Google itself backs up this finding and has published numerous reports which explore the rise of travellers researching, and in some cases – particularly that of the Millennials generation – booking their whole trip from a mobile device.

The 2017 survey results have important ramifications for both hotel responsive web design and hotel revenue management services. Here are a few of the key findings to inform your strategy:

Browsing can turn to booking

A dive into your Google Analytics data will reveal what percentage of bookings come from a mobile device. The 2017 survey however shows that 51% of traffic to hotel sites originates from a mobile device. There was also a 19 percent year-on-year increase in the number of guests who book after checking availability on the site booking engine.

To capture this emerging trend, your hotel responsive web design must encompass your booking engine. Consider how mobile friendly it is. How easy is it to select calendar dates and room types from the smaller screen of a smartphone for example? Can available rooms easily be seen without the need for excessive scrolling? If the answer is no, it’s time to call in professional hotel revenue management services as you’re likely missing out on mobile bookings.

More Revenue

Responsive sites generate more revenue

Revenue is 16.5% higher per site on average for responsive websites according to the survey. Look to book rates were also higher, at 5.5% for responsive sites compared with just 3.9% for sites that are non-responsive. Clearly, if your site is difficult to use on a mobile device, bookings will be a likely casualty.

What’s the industry standard?

The 2017 survey threw up one surprising result, despite the strong link between a mobile friendly site and revenue generation. Around 40% of hoteliers maintain a separate mobile site, rather than investing in hotel responsive web design.

The performance benefits of a responsive site are clear; they offer a more seamless user experience, they offer mobile SEO advantages and separate sites require more time, resources and budget to maintain.

Of course, one of the key areas to focus on when it comes to responsive web design is the hotel booking engine itself. Because responsive sites automatically resize to fit the device the content is being displayed on, being aware of mobile users when it comes to choosing your booking engine is absolutely crucial. If your website or booking engine isn’t responsive, get in touch with Digital Hotelier to find out how we can help you make more bookings and generate better revenues this year.

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Web Design

Hotels may be one of the oldest types of business in the world, but thi doesn’t excuse the hospitality industry from remaining at the cutting edge of technology. With the constant threat of online travel agents, new challenges to direct booking acquisition and changing consumer behaviours, it’s more vital than ever for hoteliers to keep up to date with the latest technological trends in order to remain at the top of their game.

Online hotel booking engines are just part of the puzzle. To attract potential guests, websites need to make the most of their online presence by staying one step ahead of the competition. However despite this being key, it’s true that many hotel websites don’t fit the needs of today’s savvy travellers. In fact, it’s fair to say that many actually fall behind many online travel agents when it comes to user-friendly web design and offering booking-friendly processes and features. So as a leading hotel website design company, we’ve counted down what’s next in cutting edge website design to help hoteliers meet the everchanging challenge of the online marketplace.

Modern website features

No longer is having a standard website enough – no matter how seamlessly it works. Nowadays there is an unprecedented number of tools available to help hoteliers improve how their website functions. One of the best features to capture short term income is to integrate live rates that update dynamically and placing them on the hotel site’s homepage. Not only does this entice future guests, but also removes the blocks that are usually put in the way when they are expected to perform live searches.

Mobile friendly sites

If your site isn’t mobile responsive, you really need to sit down and rethink your entire website strategy. Google has been penalising non-responsive sites for a while now, but with conversion rates for travel sites on mobiles growing 88% over the last few years, it should be crystal clear just how important mobile-friendly sites are to hoteliers. In order to make the most of the growing mobile booking opportunities, it’s vital to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. We’re not talking one tap booking, but it shouldn’t involve more than a few steps. Pages should be quick to load and form buttons should be thumb sized. Bonus points if you integrate mobile payment options such as Apple Pay.

Website Design

Learn from online agents

There’s a reason online travel agents have become so popular; they are good at what they do. Many OTAs excel at creating a sense of urgency and leaving guests feeling like they are getting the best possible deal. Hoteliers can learn from this by making their website work in the exact same way. Countdown clocks for deals and detailing the number of rooms left at a certain price give off the illusion that visitors are getting an exclusive deal and should book right now or, miss out.

User experience

We know that UX is important for mobile, but making sure desktop sites are working to their maximum performance is equally as important. Consulting a hotel website design company is the best way to guarantee a site is working for you and not against you. This might seem counter-intuitive to the mobile emphasis outlined above but, studies show that conversions for certain demographics still overwhelmingly take place on desktop, with mobiles reserved for research purposes.

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Web Design

It’s likely that all of your focus recently has been dedicated to mobile search engine optimisation. With Google launching a mobile first index, smartphone ownership at record levels and mobile research for travel products such as hotels and flights growing, there’s no denying the important of adopting a mobile first mindset. What you may not know however is that a new trend is taking hold, fuelled by the mobile revolution. Enter voice search.

If you’re not in on the secret yet, voice search is predicted to be the next big evolution in search behaviour and technology. It’s because of the speed with which voice search is gaining a foothold in the market that your hotel should start prepping now for voice user interfaces (VUI). If you don’t consider voice search when user interface designing for hotels you risk getting left behind and shut out of the technology boom.

What is voice search?

While voice search is undoubtedly the one to watch according to marketing experts, Google actually picked up on this phenomenon around five years ago before the term graphical user interface was considered in conjunction with voice-activated technology for hotels. In a report published in 2014, it said that voice search had more than doubled in popularity within a 12 month timeframe. At the time, the users of voice search were mainly teenagers between 13 and 18. Around 41% of adults also admitted to talking to their phones each day.

Voice Recognition

In the years since then, voice search habits have become more widely embraced. 2017 is the year of voice search according to Forbes. The much respected Mary Meeker State of the Internet 2017 report confirmed that voice search now accounts for 20% of all mobile search queries. This year’s report also recapped previous findings which perfectly illustrate the explosion of voice search popularity, with a 35 x growth rate in the period 2018-2016. Between 2015 and 2016, voice search use grew seven fold.

What’s fuelling this growth?

There has been an influx of voice search assistants into the technology market. Devices and assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Siri, Cortana and Alexa all enable voice-search in the home, office and workplace.

Consumers are not just becoming more used to being able to get things done by talking to their smartphone or giving a command to a device on their table, they also prefer it in some situations (such as when their hands are occupied or vision is impaired).

The Mary Meeker Report determined that 21% of voice search queries relate to fun entertainment, 30% to general information, 27% use them as a personal assistant and 22% for local information.

How can this knowledge be used to prep for VUI in your hotel?

Some hotel chains are already exploring how they can incorporate voice search and VUIs into their accommodation offering. This is the next frontier of user interface designing for hotels with the convenience we expect from these devices able to enhance the guest experience and streamline hotel operations.

The Marriott County Hall in London recently trialled a VUI called Dazzle. The developers of Dazzle say it takes the friction out of the in-room experience. It’s also worthwhile for the hotel, with a VUI bot able to process requests and free-up front desk phone lines and engagement time. A VUI could lodge an order for extra toiletries or room service and relay to reception, with the front desk saved from having to take a call, make small talk or stop another job to deal with the task.

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Web Design

Your website is crucial for attracting customers and encouraging them to make a reservation with your hotel. With travellers choosing to research and spend their cash online, it’s more important than ever that your digital presence reflects your brand and makes the booking processes as streamlined as possible. If you’ve decided it’s time for a website overhaul, working with a web designer can be a challenge but asking four key questions first can make sure you select the right professional to work with.

According to a report from ABTA, 76% of UK holidaymakers book their holiday online and even those that choose to book via other means are very likely to conduct some level of research digitally. It gives you an incredible opportunity to reach a wider customer base from around the world but also means there’s a need for your website to meet expectations. Online shoppers are impatient. If a website takes too long to load, is difficult to navigate, or doesn’t meet their needs they’ll simply look elsewhere. That’s why working with an effective hotel web designer that understands your goals is important.

Asking yourself and a web designer these four questions can help you identify the right hotel responsive web design for your hotel.

How will the website align with the hotel’s branding and target market?

Consistent branding is crucial for any hotel, be it a small B and B or larger luxury resort. For established brands, this is an important part of ensuring continuity. Your branding should significantly influence your marketing strategy and your website is a core part of customer awareness. It’s a good idea to have set out the main branding features that you want translated to your new website, such as colour palettes, approved fonts, and logos.

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Will the website be responsive?

More bookings are taking place online and a growing share of reservations are coming from mobile devices. In 2016, 36% of consumers booked their holiday via a smartphone or tablet and it’s a trend that’s growing rapidly. It means that hotel responsive web design should be viewed as an essential. Responsive design adapts to the device your customers are using, ensuing a consistently great experience. Research shows that 56% of travellers have found the booking process through a mobile device more difficult compared to using a PC, a barrier that hotel responsive web design can eliminate.

Will the website be custom made?

There are two options when a web designer is building your website – to use pre-made templates or a fully customised design. While templates are the cheaper and quicker option, if you want a website that truly captures your hotel’s brand and style it’s a choice that’s likely to leave you feeling disappointed. Having a custom-made website gives you more freedom and the capability to build in the functions that matter to your business goals, such as integrating revenue management software.

How easy will the website be to maintain and update?

Websites need to be maintained in order to continue functioning as they should. In some cases, web designers will take responsibility for this for an ongoing fee but in others you may need to hire someone. Knowing where you can turn should technical issues arise or an update is necessary can make all the difference to the smooth running of your website.

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Web Design

Commission associated with online travel agencies (OTA) has been on the rise and if you’re looking for a way to boost direct bookings, price check widgets are an essential tool you should be considering. It’s a website addition that can not only help drive up reservations but support you as you work to create a more unified customer experience that has a lasting impact.

Ideally, booking through your website should always offer the best deal to the guest. Including a price check widget within your online hotel reservation system allows you to demonstrate why travellers should be booking directly through your website rather than using a site such as Lastminute.com or booking.com. A price check widget simply gives your potential guests a clear overview of the price of booking through various OTAs in comparison to your own cost. With the right pricing strategy in place, the widget should encourage more travellers to book through you rather than third party sites.

Travellers will typically look to book through OTAs thanks to the convenience factor and typically responsive, well designed websites. It’s a trend that’s led to less direct bookings despite hotels, whether large chains or independent establishments, having a greater opportunity to connect with potential customers digitally. Third party affiliation can drive up reservations but the hefty commission cost of 15-18% means that you’re losing out on essential revenue. Incorporating a price check widget into your hotel revenue management system is one way of rebalancing the shift in consumer behaviour.

Why should you embed a price check widget on your website?

Increase direct bookings

Being able to instantly see that the best deal lies through booking through your website will have an instant impact on the amount of reservations made directly. From your perspective, that means paying less commission to OTAs and your RevPar looking much more favourable.

Refine your pricing strategy

The price customers pay through your website should be equal to or lower than the cost on any third-party website. This doesn’t always happen but a price check widget is the ideal opportunity to reassess your current strategy and online hotel reservation system to pull in more bookings.

Build trust and add convenience 

Having a clear price check widget on your website eliminates the needs for travellers to shop around for the best deal. They’ll be able to trust that making a direct booking is the best option for them, establishing brand loyalty.

website-development

Improve customer experience

Through encouraging more direct bookings, a price check widget puts you in greater control of the customer experience. From the very beginning of the booking process to checking out, you can build a positive customer journey.

With numerous clear benefits, adding a price check widget to your online presence and internal booking system could transform your reservation process.

Digital Hotelier has the skills and tools to help you put an effective price check widget on your website, allowing you to benefit from online traffic and your hotel’s offering while reducing the amount of commission you pay. It’s a simple but powerful tool that customers will appreciate, allowing you to reap the advantages of the process too.

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Web Design

A new study by Hitwise has confirmed what many hoteliers have long since known – the runaway success of Airbnb and similar brands such as HomeAway and VRBO is having an effect on the volume of web traffic going directly to hotel websites.

Hitwise data reveals that traffic to Airbnb and similar sites has increased by 70% in the last three years. In the same time period, there has been a decline in direct hotel website traffic of 3.6%. Although a smaller than 5% loss in traffic may seem negligible in the grander scheme of things, Hitwise predicts that this traffic loss will be compounded by further encroachment on hotel web traffic in the next 12 month. The new challenge will come from residential rental sites, which the study anticipates will surpass direct guest visits to hotel sites.

The Hitwise survey theorises that hotel sites are more dependent on search engine traffic than the more disruptive Airbnb business model, meaning hotel brands may feel the impact of the 3.6% decline more sharply than would otherwise be the case.

The survey found that Airbnb is able to generate double and triple the traffic from its social media presence and other channels such as email marketing respectively. It does this to a much more successful degree than hotel sites themselves according to the survey. Hitwise suggests that one possible reason for this is due to the nature of Airbnb’s hotel offering, saying this “…travellers seeking rentals may be emailing property links to friends.”

Hotel aggregators such as Booking.com have not been immune to the Airbnb effect either, with the same research finding traffic to those sites has dropped by around 8% in the last three years.

marketing-strategies

As a hotel marketer, this research paints a worrisome picture but, there are plenty of ways to learn from the success of Airbnb and similar firms and emulate some of their traffic generating strategies.

1. Diversify marketing efforts

The lesson to be learned from Airbnb’s dominance of online traffic is that dependence purely on search engine visibility is a marketing folly. Airbnb generates a huge chunk of its traffic from social media and email, making these an important part of any hotel marketing campaign. Using social media and email marketing to win direct traffic should be an integral part of any digital marketing campaign.

2. Enable sharing

Allowing visitors to share links to rooms and packages or email accommodation options to friends is another lesson to be learned from Airbnb. This function allows hotels to tap into their guests’ own networks, helping to increase direct traffic figures.

3. Play to your hotel strengths

One area where hotels are far superior to Airbnb and other short term rental accommodation providers is in the range of services. Hotels are able to offer packages, excursions and other add-ons not typical of Airbnb. Making this convenience a bigger factor is an easy way to appeal to travellers seeking a more complete travel experience.

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Web Design

Technology has changed the way we live in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few decades ago. While it has given all of us new avenues to explore and information ready at the touch of a button, it has also presented challenges to marketing professionals who want to leverage this technology in the best way possible.

Top of the list in recent times for marketers has been the mobile user experience. Getting this right has become increasingly important for a whole variety of sectors. Consumers have moved away from accessing information on desktop pcs and are now more comfortable grabbing information while on the move on their smartphones and tablets – and they expect it to be up to date and highly relevant to their needs.

Mobile Ready

It should be a given by now that your hotel website provides its content with the right mobile app UX design. In other words, your pages need to display perfectly on any mobile device – you don’t want your guests squinting at their smartphone screen trying to read the content or navigate their way through your hotel site because the design is wrong for the device. According to Google:

• 89% of people will recommend a brand after a positive experience on mobile. • But 62% are less likely to buy from a brand in the future if they have a negative experience on mobile.

mobile-user-experience

Quick Response Times

It seems as we grow more dependent on our tech, we all want it to work faster. Head back a decade or so and we were all waiting for pages to download, at least for a few seconds. Research shows that if a page takes more than a five seconds to download today, users are likely to lose patience and look somewhere else. The majority of marketers now believe that improving download speeds on mobile means they will greatly increase customer satisfaction.

Personalising the Experience

Creating a hotel responsive web design, however, is not just about speed. More and more of us expect a personalised experience when we visit any site. Since Amazon and other stores began using customer behaviour and algorithms to make on the spot recommendations, customers have started to expect this kind of provision across the board. 90% of businesses which personalise experiences see a boost in profitability and investing in this area is seen as an important component of all digital marketing in the future.

Continuity Across Platforms

The final thing that hotel customers and other consumers now expect is continuity. Wherever they view your content and on whatever device, they expect the experience to be the same. This is something that many brands do least well but it’s an area that marketers are starting to invest in more. 89% of marketers say creating end-to-end experiences for their customers, irrespective of the channel or the device being used, is one of their biggest challenges. It’s particularly relevant when considering the fast growing mobile user experience.

Focusing on mobile has become a high priority for all marketing teams in recent years. Whether it’s viewing blog posts, social media posts or watching videos, these handheld devices give us the capacity to view content and engage with brands while on the move, wherever we are in the world. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to invest some more time and effort in making sure your mobile marketing is everything it should be.

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Web Design
Chatbots have gained massively in popularity over the last 12 months and are predicted to be one of the biggest trends within the digital marketing landscape for 2017. Chatbots harness a form of artificial intelligence to become a member of your customer service team, meaning they can handle a variety of tasks. The specificis of what chatbots are able to handle all comes down to their programming, so fundamentally there are millions of tasks that can be handed to chatbots, depending on how invested you are happy to be.
Working in messenger style platforms, chatbots saw a massive surge in popularity when Facebook launched their Messenger Chatbot platform last April. Tapping into this platform could be a vital starting point when it comes to deploying chatbots for hotels, as they have over 900 million monthly users accessing their site. However, you can have a chatbot working in any online location, and most hotel responsive web design companies will be quite rightly thinking of adding them to websites.
So how can this multi-platform tool be used to improve your guest experience?
1. Take the Booking Strain
Chatbots for hotels are often tasked with making, amending and cancelling reservations. There is nothing to stop you having a chatbot working on your Facebook page and your website simultaneously either, as each can handle multiple requests at the same time. Both can also be programmed to use the same booking or reservation system concurrently. The speed with which a chatbot can update the database is faster than that of a person, so there is no danger of double booking or misinformation.
2. Answer Common Questions
Until recently hotel responsive web design dictated that a FAQ page was made available to all site users. This was considered to be cutting-edge, but technology moves so quickly! FAQ pages mean the user has to read and scroll to find the information they need. Handing this task to a chatbot means that your customers can simply ask the question in plain English by typing it into your chatbot window. The answers are pulled from the database within milliseconds leaving the customer happy and more likely to make a booking.
qa-chatbot
3. In-Room Chatbots
Chatbots for hotels continue to develop in surprising ways. Some hotels have already started to investigate this new frontier – in November 2016 ‘Project Jetson’ was unveiled by Aloft. This clever voice activated chatbot sits in rooms and acts as a virtual personal assistant. Currently, the unit can adjust the room temperature and turn lights off and on but the skill set will expand to take on new responsibilities. While this might not be immediately accessible in all room types and for all hotel businesses, the introduction of technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and other voice technologies is promising. Smart marketers are already optimising their hotel responsive web design for voice search so allowing for further growth with features such as chatbots and in-room chatbots isn’t a big leap.
Final Thoughts
Chatbots are a phenomenal tool but come with a mild warning. Artificially intelligent chatbots need to meet a customer need, or they fall flat and are not well received. There is no point throwing out a poorly conceived bot that fails to understand what your guest actually wants to know.
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Web Design
In November 2016, Google shared an article on its Webmaster Tools blog which noted that he majority of search users turn to Google from a mobile device rather than a standard desktop or laptop. This, it said, caused problems as the Google algorithms were designed to crawl traditional web pages with lots of content, rather than the shorter and often content-light versions of mobile web pages.
In this post, the search engine revealed that in order to make its results useful, it had begun experimenting with mobile first indexing. Rumours of mobile first have been around for a while but, it’s not until this post that Google said that it would make this shift – a potentially massive change to a system established decades earlier.
So, what does mobile first indexing mean for you and how can you prepare your hotel site for this seismic change?
1. Understand what mobile first means
The first step to creating hotel responsive web design is to understand what the search engine is looking for. The mobile first index means that Google’s algorithms will use the mobile version of your site (rather than the desktop version used currently) as its primary means of understanding page content and ranking your site in its results pages.
2. Check page load times
Mobile visitors are known to be impatient, and bounce rate tracks up exponentially as page loading time lags. Google has previously stated that page loading time will be a factor so, you’ll need to ensure that the mobile version of your site renders quickly and offers a speedy experience to web users. Creating a fast loading hotel responsive web design isn’t just important for mobile first indexing – trends show that travellers (especially millennials) increasingly browse, search and book travel products including hotel rooms on mobile devices. To avoid them getting frustrated and taking their booking to a competitor, make sure your pages load quickly on mobile.
Google has a page load speed checker.
website-layout
3. Use structured markup
Google recommends that you use structured markup on the mobile and desktop versions of your site. If you already have this in place on mobile, check that you don’t have surplus or large and unwieldy markup on the mobile version.
4. Use AMP
Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) is an open source Google project which was launched to help provide a more accessible web for mobile users. In essence, it uses a truncated version of HTML to speed up page loading times.
Installing AMP and using it across your mobile content can help to improve search visibility and will put your hotel site in a better place when the mobile first index officially launches.
5. Compress images
Very large images and videos can be slow to load on mobile devices and often aren’t suited to the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Use an image compressor to make larger image sizes smaller, and keep file size in mind when you’re saving new images to publish on your site.
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Web Design
Progressive web apps are one of the latest and greatest developments in mobile web development. Having originally been proposed by Google back in 2015, this new type of web app has attracted plenty of attention due to its relatively simple development process and great user experience.

If you aren’t familiar with this concept or, are eager to take the next step with your hotel website’s design to offer a more up-to-date user experience, read on to find out what they are and whether or not your hotel brand should be considering developing such a tool.

What are Progressive Web Apps?
A progressive web app harnesses the best of both web and mobile apps, providing a combination of web technology which takes the form of a particularly effective application. Progressive web apps are possible due to the recent advancements in technology which allow web developers to install web apps, receive notifications and work offline. As a general rule, progressive web apps are easier to develop and maintain than conventional native apps, and can be built in less time than a mobile responsive website.

Whilst apps often secure early interest on their release, many app developers find their offering starts to gradually lose customer interest over time, sometimes losing as much as 20% of its audience by the second use of the app. However a progressive web app helps cut down on some of the steps necessary when using a traditional app, including removing the need to download and install it to a device. The user will only receive a prompt to install and upgrade when revisiting the app.

website-development
Does Your Hotel Need a Progressive Web App?
Google defines progressive web apps as a new way to deliver an amazing experience on the web. The search engine says progressive web apps are:

  • Reliable – Load instantly and never show the downasaur, even in uncertain network conditions.
  • Fast – Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
  • Engaging – Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.
 
With all of these benefits, it’s easy to make the business case for a progressive web app for your hotel.

When deciding whether you need a progressive or native app, first consider the uses your hotel’s web app will have and the most crucial actions you expect your users to take when in practice. Key benefits of a progressive web app include it’s applicability in all browsers and the continually improved user experience every time a user updates their browser.

There is no compromise in quality when choosing a progressive web app versus a ‘traditional’ hotel websites design. Ultimately the decision over whether to invest will come down to whether your hotel requires a degree of online functionality which is only really possible via a progressive web app, or whether the same actions you require can be obtained using a traditional native application.
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Web Design
In an increasingly global society, UK hoteliers can’t afford to sit idly by when surveys of US hotels publish their results—especially when those big chains have started to make inroads into the UK. The most recent survey to sit up and take notice of is the J.D. Power and Associates’ North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

The biggest takeaways from the survey are that guests are happier with mobile user friendly hotels, and hotel responsive web design has an increased effect on direct bookings. Optimizing for mobile has never been more urgent.

Rick Garlick, Global Travel and Hospitality Practice Lead at J.D. Power said “As mobile usage becomes increasingly ubiquitous for guests, the challenge for hotels becomes twofold: First, they must persuade guests to book directly with them, and second, they must encourage easy utilization of this technology. By forging direct relationships, hotels can become guardians of the guest experience, but at the centre of these relationships is an establishment’s mobile strategy.”

The survey also noted that guests who booked through a third-party app or experience were more likely to have a problem with their stay and be less satisfied overall. Despite this statistic, there’s been a 3% upswing in bookings through online travel agencies—meaning that hotels must try optimizing for mobile as soon as possible.

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Mobile user friendly hotels will snare the largest portion of younger and business travellers if the trend is to continue—14% of online bookings were made on mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet in 2004, but now the percentage is 25% and rising rapidly, with those demographics navigating hotel responsive web design with ease.

You don’t have to immediately put out an app while you’re focusing on optimizing for mobile, though—38% of guests don’t even use hotel proprietary mobile apps during their stays, and only 1% use the apps to check out of their room. Making direct booking more mobile user friendly seems to be the order of the day.

However, if these statistics haven’t convinced you to focus on digital, the next one might. 86% of guests who happen to experience a problem during their stay are likely to post comments about it to social media, meaning that irregular problems can be over-reported and, without your managing of these online spaces, could potentially turn customers off from booking with you.

Because the survey is so far-reaching, it doesn’t attempt to directly compare hotel brands. Instead, the 1,000-point scale of guest satisfaction means that there are easy takeaways for brands both at home and abroad. Every hotel operates reservations, checking in and out, and hotel facilities, after all; things that are easy for guests to rank and say how much they value them.

It seems that the most valuable thing that a hotel can do now is to focus on their hotel responsive web design, as well as optimizing for mobile and making their site mobile user friendly. If trends are emerging in this year’s survey, they might dominate the survey in just another twelve months.
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Web Design
When it comes to boosting your hotel’s call to action, it is sometimes very helpful to check out a few handy examples from brands that are already getting it right. While a great CTA can help guide buyers through the process and prompt them to take a leap and make the reservation, a weak call to action will result in equally weak results. For your hotel, that means empty rooms and poor RevPar figures.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, take a look at a few examples of killer calls to action used by top travel brands. Use their tried and tested successes to guide your own efforts. And don’t forget, a killer call to action shouldn’t just be used on your web page itself. Use what you learn from these examples to inform your call to action strategies across your marketing channels, including in emails, social media posts and blog updates.

What makes a great CTA?
The examples on this list are all representational of some of the key best practices of great CTAs, which not only grab the attention of prospective hotel guests, but provoke meaningful interaction with your brand. Some of the best practice elements which will help to maximise your chances of success include careful consideration of the size, colour, wording, position and urgency of your call to action – creating a formula which, when used in combination with the other elements of your website, provokes a positive response.                    

Marriot Hotels
marriot-hotels
The rewards scheme offered by Marriot Hotels makes its proposition clear in simple, bold language – stay with this hotel and you will gain ‘infinite’ rewards points to use on subsequent trips. Its call to action is also clear. Join % Register. Whilst some small print clears up the details and a tonal CTA button makes taking advantage of the offer straightforward, the positioning – slightly off-centre – of the central premise makes it easy to see why this would be a genuine enticement to book. This is backed up by the scenic poolside view which the crisp white text cuts through. It’s clear and compelling.

Trivago
trvago
This deceptively simplistic ‘search’ CTA from hotel price comparison site Trivago outlines its utilitarian benefits – reducing the costs of your holiday – in an approachable, centralised font. This is large enough to provide enticement but small enough not to interfere with the ability to enter a search term. The absence of surrounding clutter hints at organisation and reliability, encouraging trust as the go-to site for finding the ‘ideal hotel’ and making a booking. Fast, functional and effective and one that you can easily replicate on your own booking engine.

British Airways
british-airways
Stacking CTA upon CTA isn’t generally a recommended strategy for encouraging click-through, but there are, like most rules, a few notable exceptions. British Airways demonstrates urgency with their summery juxtaposition of simple CTA buttons and evocative images which help pinpoint some of the key elements of call to action strategies which could help to optimise your hotel website design. See all late deals is very compelling and not only ticks the killer CTA action box by tempting travellers to find a bargain, it’s also a great example of how to offer a simple, useful user experience.
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Web Design
You’ve probably heard of CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) but like so many digital terms, it can be tricky to understand and even more challenging to get right. Here’s our quick guide to CRO and why your hotel needs it now…
 
What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Conversion rates are one of the most important metrics in the hotel industry; the higher the conversion rate, the better. A conversion can be anything, from a confirmed booking to a website visitor signing up to your email list to receive special offers. Conversion rate optimisation is a measure of how effective you are at getting your traffic to carry out the desired action, whatever you have determined that goal to be.
 
Even if your website is in great shape and achieving a steady stream of traffic, there’s a chance you’re still not functioning to the highest level possible. If you’re not converting these visitors, there’s a problem – and it’s a problem which CRO can help fix.
 
As we’ve noted, a conversion doesn’t necessarily have to mean that your guests book a stay at your hotel, although for most hoteliers this will be the end goal. For that reason, you’ll likely have a range of desirable actions that you’d like to see take place, and a number of different CRO tactics to employ, based on what your own particular goals are. The CRO methods you use to encourage an email subscription for example will be very different to the changes you make to maximise bookings, meaning it is a moveable, vast field of operations.
 
Implementing Conversion Rate Optimisation
Putting together a CRO strategy can help to ensure your website achieves the optimum rate of conversion, translating your efforts made to acquire website traffic into something more commercially valuable – guests and potential guests.
 
Last year’s annual Conversion Rate Optimisation Report carried out by Econsultancy outlines the necessary steps to optimise conversion rates. It notes the need to carry out a variety of testing, gather feedback and perform analysis on a range of elements. These actions are designed to provide sufficient information which can then lead to improved websites with greater potential for achieving their intended goal.
 
Actions you’ll need to take when carrying out CRO:
A/B Testing 
Online surveys and feedback
Segmentation for enhanced targeting
Customer journey analysis
Cart abandonment analysis 
Optimisation of web copy
 
A/B testing is the most popular method of testing and improving conversion rates. It helps you get into the mind of customers as they look at different variations of the website and booking system and decipher which one works best.
 
Benefits of CRO for your Hotel
Not only is conversion rate optimisation great for boosting your conversions and central reservations, it can also lead to an improved user experience overall, which provides a boost to your online profile. If in doubt as to how to carry out your own CRO, get in touch with a global distribution specialist for hotels to find out how best to proceed with the process.
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Web Design
Better landing pages make for better rates of conversion, giving hoteliers a gratifying method of generating more revenue for their establishments. Yet designing a great landing page can seem a complex task, and often requires asking yourself some important questions to make sure you get the best out of your hotel’s digital capabilities. If your direct bookings aren’t what you would like them to be and bounce rates are much higher than you’d prefer, it could well be time to revisit your landing page design and structure. Ask yourself these questions to build a better page and generate more room reservations.

What’s the function of a hotel landing page?
Whilst scoring more bookings is your ultimate goal as a hotelier, your strategy must be comprised of many different methods of reaching this profitable end. This involves driving qualified traffic to your website and then providing them with enough information and content to make that all important booking. Pages with the sole focus of driving up your direct bookings are referred to as landing pages. They are built with the aim of capturing customer information, and their simple, straightforward function makes them incredibly effective. Whilst your entire website might be built for any of your hotel guests, landing pages benefit from a narrower focus within your hotel responsive web design. When created in the right way, landing pages can drive up direct bookings by providing:

  • Targeted leads with a vested interest in your hotel – they’ve already willingly provided contact details.
  • Handy customer insight – whether via their enquiry, booking information or contact info.

Website design
Creating Great Landing Pages
Whether seeking to create a landing page for the first time or renewing your existing strategy, you need to ask yourself about the following key elements: 

  • Does your headline appeal to your buyer personas?
Writing a great headline is about more than just enticing copy or grandiose offers – it’s about crafting something which suits your target audience and meets their requirements. As a general rule, keeping headlines short and conversational is a good strategy, whether using a testimonial, cliffhanger or outright buyer proposition or benefit to draw in hotel guests.

  • Does your call to action (CTA) stand out?
Your call to action button should stand out and be immediately visible, prompting your customers to action. This is quite achievable simply by centralising it on the page, adjusting the size or colour of the button or altering the CTA copy to something more appealing.

  • Is your landing page copy benefit-driven?
It’s important to convey to your visitors precisely *why* they should follow through with the action they are being prompted to by your hotel landing page. Consider your visitors needs and how you can best meet them through your web design for hotels as a guide to creating the best possible landing page for your establishment.
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Web Design
Many of the guests that walk into your hotel this year will have formulated an opinion on your business before they’ve even walked through the lobby. How? Because of your mobile website.

With smartphones now at a level of total ubiquity, it’s a safe bet that most of your customers have checked out your website before they visit. Some of them will have even used your website booking system to secure their reservation on their mobiles. Your website is one of the most crucial marketing tools in your arsenal, and it’s vital that customers are able to view it in all its glory on the device of their choice.

Mobile optimisation is no longer something hotels can ignore. Here are five ways you can master mobile optimisation for your hotel website.

Responsive web design
It goes without saying that if you’re going to optimise for mobile users, you need a hotel responsive web design. This means that your hotel website will be just as accessible and attractive when viewed on a small portrait screen as it is when you access it on your wide-screen desktop computer. A responsive site will adapt in a number of ways to ensure menus, images, forms, text and buttons will appear without the need for pinch-zooming or side-scrolling.

mobile-optimisation

Fast site speed
The modern consumer is fairly impatient. If they have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load, it’s likely that they’ll try elsewhere. Google has also deemed website speed worthy of being turned into an important SEO ranking factor – so it’s certainly worth your while to optimise your mobile site and ensure it’s running quickly and smoothly.

Mobile-friendly ads
Paid and organic search make a powerful combination, and it’s always worth trying to incorporate both into your overall strategy. But when it comes to mobile, you can’t simply lift the regular ads you’ve been using and hope they translate on smaller devices. Nowadays, you need mobile optimised ads that are more suitable for smaller screens.

Local should be focal
Local SEO and mobile website also go hand-in-hand. Location searches on mobile devices have skyrocketed in recent years, so you should make a real effort to ensure your local SEO is on point. Claim all the online business listings you can, and keep your NAPs consistent and updated. Guests searching for hotels in a particular location will be able to find you on their mobiles much more easily if your local SEO is given the attention it deserves.

Consider an app
If you believe you’ve mastered mobile optimisation for your hotel website, and you’re getting great results, it might be time to take the next step: hotel app development. An app will perform similar functions to your website, with a multitude of extra benefits. You’ll be able to collect valuable data and insights, provide a more optimised booking experience and even enhance customer service at your property from your app.

For more information about mobile optimisation, hotel app development and responsive web design for hotels, contact the Digital Hotelier team today.
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Web Design
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, or AMP for short, is an open source initiative targeted at speeding up the delivery of online content. This is achieved through the utilisation of a pared down coding referred to as AMP HTML. It was developed in response to the proliferation of the mobile web. If you haven’t heard of AMP or haven’t yet implemented AMP on your hotel website, you are missing out on the chance to grow your revenue and increase booking value. Why? Because AMP content has better search visibility and taps into the growing trend for travellers to search and book travel products such as hotel rooms via a smartphone or tablet device.

Accelerated mobile pages sounds like this is going to be a complicated undertaking but, it’s easy if you take it step by step. In our beginner’s guide for hoteliers, we’re going to share the basics of AMP so you know exactly how to leverage this technology in your hotel website designs to increase direct bookings.
So, how did AMP come about, and what does it mean for your hotel’s SEO efforts?

Website Design
What does AMP do?
Accelerated mobile pages have been developed and implemented to help content to be delivered faster and more efficiently than ever before for mobile devices. As more and more web browsers turn to mobile for their hotel bookings, this is understandably an important development for hoteliers. While traditional web pages are often notoriously slow to load for mobile-users, AMP offers a new solution for content publishers. This isn’t a replacement for your desktop site – AMP publishers need to be aware that a desktop version of their pages is still required in addition to their AMP HTML adaptation for those users who do still prefer to go online from a laptop or desktop computer.

AMP is not without its limitations. Whilst created with the hope of providing both speed and readability, there are understandably some visible limitations prompted by this shift towards speed, meaning images can be a little slower to appear and no JavaScript or un-streamlined CSS is possible for adopters.

What AMP Means for Your Hotel
In essence, to ensure you continually increase your Google search visibility, it is vital to make AMP a part of your strategy moving forward. This means creating an AMP version of your content, which is achievable with varying degrees of complexity depending on the CMS you currently use. AMP functionality should nonetheless be key amongst your considerations to help keep your content mobile-ready and future-proof for the changing demands of Google search. The importance of AMP is heightened for hoteliers who gain visitors from their blog or news section, so a proactive approach is required.

Incorporating AMP
The AMP design principles are clearly outlined on the official AMP Project webpage, making it simpler to get to work on making your content as speedy and mobile friendly as possible. With a clear focus on clean hotel website designs and efficiency in every choice on each page, AMP will keep your hotel website ahead of the pack by providing instant load times which will impress even the most time-strapped of hotel guests seeking to read your online content or make a quick booking.
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Web Design
Search engine Google sent shockwaves around the net when it announced that its long standing search index was to be replaced by a new mobile index. The traditional desktop index – which has served Google search users since the engine first launched – is being demoted to second place. While it will still be used, the mobile index will become the primary one in use when a user inputs a search term.

Despite earlier saying the index would launch at the end of 2017, Google has now confirmed that the new mobile search index will actually go live sometime in 2018. This is good news for hotel marketers because it gives you another couple of months to carry out mobile optimization for your hotel website and adopt a mobile first mentality.

Mobile first is a term that has been around for a while of course, ever since Google announced that it was handling more mobile search queries than desktop – but what does it mean? And what does Google’s new mobile search index mean for your hotel site?

1. Mobile optimization for hotel websites will take on a renewed importance

More and more travellers are finding, researching and booking their travel plans from a mobile device. With Google prioritizing those sites which make that mobile experience easier, the new mobile first index is a wakeup call for hotel brands that have done little to progress their mobile marketing beyond creating a responsive website. Consider page speed (a huge factor for mobile rankings) and mobile-friendly design elements such as click to call buttons, shorter contact forms and compressed images.

2. You’ll need to work with AMP

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) is an open source project started by Google and designed to make the web accessible for mobile users. Millions of publishers are already using AMP to make their content mobile friendly and, the new mobile search index is a strong indicator that your hotel site should implement it too. AMP uses a shorter version of standard HTML code and, pages with AMP are already given prime position in the Google search carousel.

3. You’ll need to expand your mobile site content

Mobile site’s tend to be smaller than desktop versions but, with an index being created specifically for mobile users and more and more of us spending more time searching on mobile devices, this is set to change. If you don’t have much information on the mobile version of your hotel site, now is the time to start creating it. Go with a responsive approach rather than a standalone mobile version to make sure you’re using all of your existing assets to their full potential when the new index does launch.

4. Ranking signals will be read from your mobile not desktop site

Google says it will take ranking signals from your mobile site rather than desktop version when the mobile first index launches. This creates an immediate need for a full SEO audit – not only will you need time to determine if your mobile content is optimised, you’ll also need to schedule any required remedial works. Google says it isn’t sure how links will be affected as yet (as mobile sites tend to have fewer links than desktop sites) but this should be something you respond to when Google clarifies as the new index gets closer to being the default.
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Web Design
Your hotel website is your online calling card – it defines your brand and helps to showcase exactly what you have to offer customers who make a booking with you. A great hotel website design company can help steer you in the right direction, but what should you look out for when building a successful hotel website? Read on for some top tips on all the essential elements to include…

Mobile-Friendly Design
As browsing on a mobile device becomes more and more important to web users, it’s important to make sure your hotel site has a fully-responsive design. Travellers might be using more than one device at a time, or their only exposure to your company could be via a mobile device – and if the website doesn’t work as it should, they’re unlikely to return and try again – they’ll simply move on to another hotel which has a responsive website. This is as much about inspiring trust as it is about aesthetics.

Website Design
Great Visuals
Paint your customers a picture of their hotel stay and make sure this is part of your brief to your hotel website design company. Painting a picture can be achieved through great copy – but one of the most effective ways is simply through the use of enticing (and relevant) photography. Display your hotel rooms and any other key areas of interest with high quality images which give guests a chance to imagine themselves within the same setting. Even the most basic of hotels can help alleviate any concerns over room or facility quality with great photography, showing how high your standards are. Other ideas for visual content include video graphy or virtual tours, letting customers put themselves in the shoes of a hotel guest before even making a booking.

Clear Navigation
One of the most off-putting aspects of any website is being unable to find what you’re looking for. Get into the mind-set of a prospect looking to book a hotel room. Do you want to spend hours trying to work out what rooms are available? A millennia trying to find the booking engine? A clear navigational structure which translates well from desktop to mobile is key to creating a great website. This doesn’t have to mean scrimping on creativity – quite the opposite. But without knowing how to find what they’re looking for, your site could test the patience of even the most enthusiastic potential hotel guest. Keep it simple.

Reviews and Testimonials
A hotel is one service you cannot try before you buy – but potential guests can certainly turn to the opinions of those who have previously booked with you for help in making their decision. It is reassuring to hear realistic opinions on a hotel prior to booking, so why not include a few well-selected guest testimonials to incorporate into your website? If effective, they can be used sparsely to great effect.

A Reliable Booking Engine
All of this activity getting your website into great shape amounts to little if your customers can’t make a booking. Investing in a great booking engine is a top priority. Customisation is great –but make sure the booking process itself is simple and straightforward to ensure the best results.
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Web Design
Content marketing is an ultra powerful tool for digital marketers with myriad benefits across the board.
From brand building and engagement to generating increased online exposure, working as a link building asset and powering conversions, there are no shortage of reasons to harness the power of content marketing for your hotel website.

However, one of the key reasons that content marketing has risen to the fore in the last 12 to 18 months is its potential contribution to SEO. As a hotel marketer, any SEO asset that you can get your hands on should be firmly embraced (providing of course it is white hat and effective).

digital hotel marketing

Here, we’ve rounded up three of the most compelling reasons to use the power of content marketing to drive your SEO efforts onwards.

1.  Content IS the driving force of SEO
Content is and always has been the driving force of SEO. While search engine optimisation as a practise is split into onpage and offpage activities, both with very different areas of responsibility, content is the one thing they have in common. Content as the driving force of SEO activity shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, even if you are still fairly new to the complexities of search engine marketing.

Google is a business just like any other and, it strives to deliver the best possible experience to its customers – search users. When then turn to Google to answer a question or find a product or service, they are trusting the search engine to return the most relevant results. In essence, what they’re doing is asking Google to comb through all of the content it indexes to provide them with the most helpful information.

The more good quality, useful, original and detailed content you have on your site, the easier you make it for any search engine to determine what you are about and which search queries you can assist with. This is SEO at work in practical terms and it’s driven by content.

2. Content marketing keeps your site up to date and relevant
If you fail to use content marketing, your hotel site becomes easy prey to competitors. It will fall stagnant, be out of date and easy for both search engines and potential visitors to class you as out of a touch. This can have a direct impact on your keyword rankings. A regular influx of new content, in the form of blog posts, articles, infographics, listicles and other content formats shows visitors and search engines alike that you’re open for business. It also acts as food for Google’s spiders, giving them more and more insight and more direction as to which keywords your site should rank well for.

3. Content marketing is essential for link building
While influencer marketing is growing in popularity, it can be an expensive way to build links and awareness for your property. There is a cost involved – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars – and you’ll typically need to provide free accommodation and use of amenities such as bar and restaurant. Links also need to be tagged as sponsored.

Content marketing however provides a continual tool for relevant, good quality link building via third party sites and social media. If you invest in content marketing and take care to produce unique, high quality and useful content, links will accrue naturally. A wide range of links, from various sources, with relevant anchor text, is the currency of SEO and can help to drive your site up the search results pages.
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