Whether you run a beach hut in Brighton or a 5* star hotel in the Bahamas, you will want to provide your customers with a state of the art online booking system that’s simple and easy to use.
Today we released the results from our inaugural online hotel awards, revealing the most user-friendly websites. The survey polled results from 500 UK consumers on which sites ranked the highest when it comes to booking a hotel online.
Respondents were asked to explain what features were important on a hotel website, with many citing clear photos, customer reviews and simple forms as top priorities for them.
Premier Inn was crowned the champion of hotel websites, closely followed by Travelodge, and looking at their websites, it’s very easy to see why.
Premier Inn has a strong brand and a clear marketing message, which it delivers effectively throughout all of their channels. After all, if you’re going to put Lenny Henry’s beaming face on everyone’s TV’s promising superb rooms, you need to live up to that reputation!
The homepage is clean, colourful and welcoming.
One thing is absolutely clear, when you arrive on the Premier Inn homepage, you are here to book a hotel. The big, prominent and simple search area shouts out ‘start here’ to the visitor from the moment they land on this page. The site navigation is simple to follow and understand, allowing the user to search through the site and place a booking easily.
Further down the page, links to Facebook groups and Twitter accounts are clearly displayed, as well as email sign up options.
The hotel pages can’t be faulted for the level of detail provided to customers. Room pages are highly detailed with description, large photos and very clear pricing. This is critical considering our survey found that over half of UK consumers voted hidden prices as their number one turn off on hotel websites.
Premier Inn also is great at highlighting their saver and flexible rates making sure to reinforce their refund policies.
The Trip Advisor integration also adds an important level of social proof which shows potential customers that they’re not the only people making the same purchasing decision. Social proofing is a combination of behavioural psychology and peer pressure. There’s a reason why shopping networks on TV always show how many fancy blenders they’re selling – it’s social proof and it works.
The five step checkout page is fully enclosed and the progress indicator reassures travellers that there aren’t too many steps to go.
Whilst there’s relatively few required fields to populate, an in-line address validation tool would speed up this process and cut the form length substantially. The drop-down validation method is quickly becoming dated and restrictive which could really annoy customers and spoil an otherwise smooth checkout process.
I’m particularly impressed by the fact that they offer guest checkout by default, thus removing a potential major barrier to purchase.
Overall, Premier Inn’s website is well-organised and very easy to understand with a clear objective on selling hotel rooms to the visitor.
Do you agree with the results from the survey or do you have another favourite hotel website? Let us know below.