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6 website mistakes hotels make

The process of booking holidays and hotels has come a long way since the days of travel brochures and Teletext from the 1990’s. However, there is still a lot to do.  It’s ironic that you so often end up needing another holiday after trawling the internet for hours attempting to buy one.

Following our recent survey and my own experience of researching hotel sites from both a guest and hotel owner point of view (my parents bought a B&B in Devon and wanted some help in online marketing), here are some of the top usability mistakes made by hotel websites.

Not displaying images

Is there something your hotel is hiding – why aren’t there any images? For most of your customers, real-life images of the hotel room are the deciding factor. Travellers will want to know what the rooms look like before they book.  Many hotels have a tendency of showing emotional pictures such as a happy couple in the foyer – whilst this can work, it doesn’t show the customer what the room looks like, and what they can expect to get if they book with you. Stock photos should always be your last resort. When it comes to holidays, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Not displaying credentials and reviews

Although a number of factors come into play when a customer makes a decision to buy online, none other is more important than trust.

Despite the last few years’ growth in online shopping, a lot of people are still uncomfortable purchasing and reserving holidays online. Your customers will only buy from you if they feel safe and confident about your business. Therefore, it is imperative that you align your site with industry-accepted protocols and standards, such as SSL certificates. A SSL certificate creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser to ensure that all data transmitted remains private and secure.

You should also include reviews of your hotel on your site – your customers may not trust you but they will trust their peers! Make sure you provide full contact information for your customers to get in touch with you if they need it.

Slow loading sites

A slow website will almost definitely turn customers away – before you’ve even had the chance to talk to them. Anything longer than a few seconds, and your visitors will click that back button – and you’ll have lost a customer. Not only this, but it can have a serious impact on your SEO ranks as site speed is also favoured in Google’s search engine algorithms. Whilst it’s important to have images, if you’re site is too graphic-heavy or you’re using flash, it can seriously increase your load time. Make sure images are compressed and optimised for the best look and smallest fit. It’s also worth noting that no one appreciates videos and background music that automatically start playing!

Not having a strong call to action

The purpose of your site is to encourage customers to enquire about your hotel and ultimately make a booking through your website. A strong call to action leading your visitor to book, enquire or phone should be a prominent element on every one of your pages. A click-to-call option on a mobile site is also important for anyone using mobile devices.

Asking too many questions

What data do you actually need to collect from your customers? Do people have to sign up first, or can they complete an order without registering? First decide what information you can’t do without. Then, make it as easy as possible for the user to give their information.

The best forms will only ask for the information they absolutely need, splitting the process into manageable chunks. Technology such as address auto-fill can dramatically shorten the checkout process by preventing your customers manually typing out their address. Not only can this speed things up for time sensitive customers, but you can be confident you’ve got the correct customer data. It’s a win-win.

Complicated checkouts

Are there ten pages to complete? Our survey revealed that one of the top turnoffs for hotel booking is overly long and complicated checkouts. It’s time to determine what’s absolutely necessarily and narrow that down to two pages or less to completion. The more you force your visitors to click around your site, the more likely they are to abandon it. To get users from Point A to that final confirmation page, the process needs to be as smooth as possible.

Learn how our international address auto-fill tool improves your direct booking rate and is proven to improve the customer booking experience. 

Improving the online booking process.


  • http://ReloadPartners Colin Forker

    From experience – getting all of these right will improve conversions and reduce guests abandoning booking.

    One point that really rings true in the Irish market is part of your “do not have a complicated booking process” tip. This includes not loading 10 or 12 options for packages, stay and saves, grey nomad deals, stay/dine/wine etc pricing and inventory when a guest is looking to stay at your property. Guests want “no stress”/”no friction” booking. Having to deal with a load of different offerings can cause them to leave your hotel’s site and book with a competitor offering simplified inventory/pricing.

    I would add mobile/tablet responsiveness to your list also. Any device, any browser, any bandwidth …. etc

  • http://www.summercall.com Grant Denholm

    Good article. I particularly like the advice about only collecting data you really need. Asking too much can be intrusive, irrelevant to the process and will only clog up the customer database with data you probably won’t use anyway. If it’s information you think you really need, then use a separate communication to the segment of customers that it may be relevant to.

    I would also add another point to your checklist which is to incorporate social media. Today’s savvy travellers increasingly have an expectation for a Twitter account and a Facebook presence which enables them to have a dialogue with the hotel – as well as making the hotel appear much more approachable and digitally aware.

  • Tim Frenklin

    In the minds of travelers, a small number of reviews compared to other nearby hotels could mean “beware” in their minds, unless your property is brand new. And if you have old reviews on the first page, those are stale.book a hotel online If you write the same basic response over and over again, you will come across as kind of stupid, shallow and insincere.

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