Few things are as important as the user experience when it comes to being able to harvest direct bookings from your website. If you’re looking to win guests away from online travel agents (and competitors) making it as pleasurable and stress free as possible to navigate with your site and interact with it is absolutely key.
Here are a few insider tricks to upgrade your website’s user experience by modifying your hotel website design and rethinking some of your existing tactics and processes.
Trick 1: Be Omni-Channel
We’ve all heard the need to think mobile first and we know that research shows that an increasing number of travellers will use their smartphone or tablet to book a trip. However, what’s notable is that an even greater number will start their journey on a mobile device but will still end up making the final booking on a desktop computer. Millennials are the exception that proves this rule, with Adobe Customer Insights also recognising this trend in its annual forecast for the holiday sales season.
What this jump between devices means for your hotel marketing solutions is that you need to develop an omni-channel experience. That means a guest will have the same experience and impression of your brand when browsing on a tablet or iPhone as they get a few days later when they sit down at their desk to actually make a booking.
A simple way to make this possible is to ensure that if a user signs in on their smartphone to check availability for a specific hotel on a specific date, they are able to resume their search on their desktop or other device at a later time.
Trick 2: Make payments as easy as possible
This sounds like an obvious trick but it’s surprising how many hotel website’s design doesn’t factor in the constraints of smaller screens and other accessibility issues when designing their payment gateway. Your booking engine should make it quick and easy to pay, offer a choice of payment options, not force a registration and avoid soliciting an excessive amount of detail.
Offer the option for payment details to be stored so that returning visitors can complete new reservations in a matter of minutes. This will not only upgrade the user experience, it will also serve to boost your conversions and room occupancy rates.
Trick 3: Implement a thematic search function
Not all guests will know that they want to stay at a specific hotel when the arrive on your site. They might know that they want a beach holiday or a city break, but don’t have a fixed idea in mind of the location that should be. Inspire your visitors to indulge their sense of adventure and discovery by implementing a thematic search function which allows guests to search by the type of stay they are looking for, a specific location such as a town or city or a particular amenity such as a spa, business facilities or all-inclusive options.
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