Does your website really sell as much as you would like?
If the average hotel website conversion rate is 2.2%, there’s a consequent gap between the top-20% hotels who perform a 5.6 % conversion rate and the bottom-20% who painfully reach a conversion rate of 0.3 %1. These figures raise two questions for your hotel’s website: where does it stand and what can you do to be part of the top-20 and drive more traffic? Here is some food-for-thought to help you advertise your hotel website:
I. The user experience on your website is as important as the guest experience at your hotel
When visiting your website, potential guests expect to easily access the info they are looking for, while feeling your hotel’s atmosphere. Your property is unique, and your website is much more than an e-brochure!
Add fresh content regularly, such as photos, videos, 360° images, events, news, social feed, customer reviews, special offers, restaurant menus, spa packages, etc. Up-to-date content reassures your visitors who are more likely to convert.
The Bonus: search engines will love it, too! Fresh and unique content is favoured by search engines and will help you to improve your ranking on search results.
For every content, try to be consistent with your hotel brand. Don’t overload your pages with too much content: one message with one call-to-action highlighted by a fine-tuned graphic will have much more impact than a stodgy mix of info confusing your visitors. Keep it simple!
A successful design implies a great look & feel, but it should also involve a performance-oriented structure. We’re talking e-commerce here. So when revamping your hotel’s website, don’t underestimate the ergonomics, UX and design-thinking part: your goal is not only to showcase your hotel but to sell rooms and upsell!
As soon as possible during the customer’s journey, show them your exclusive best rates and lead them to a frictionless booking funnel. Your web agency should be able to integrate your Booking Engine smoothly.
On top of that, they should efficiently showcase your entire commercial offer, from your rooms to additional sales such as special offers & options to F&B (online restaurant booking) not to mention MICE or spa offers if you have the facilities.
II. Travellers are mobile by definition
We can never stress this enough: your visitors are mobile! You need to answer the questions that travellers ask themselves wherever they are, regardless of the device they use to approach you. Therefore, your website must adapt to all types of smartphones and tablets on the market.
While hoteliers are fully aware of travellers’ new usages, in 2018, the average conversion rate on mobile is 0.92% vs 3.31% on desktop.
Imagine how far you can stand out from your competitors with a conversion-oriented mobile version of your website!
Plus, being “mobile-friendly” is all the more critical today because Google is working on its SEO algorithm to focus on mobile search: if your site does not offer adequate and adapted content, it will not reach the first page of the search engine.
Want to evaluate the “mobile-friendliness” of your hotel website? Use tools like Google Mobile-Friendly test.
III. The need for (loading) speed
Loading speed is key in terms of conversion, particularly on mobile. It influences your organic search engine ranking as Google is prioritising high loading speed mobile websites in its search algorithm.
A site that is too slow will be detrimental twice. First, when a traveller looks for your hotel on search engines, and it’s not featured in the top search results. And then when the traveller lands on your site and drops off before even accessing your carefully crafted content that took too long to load.
This was confirmed during a Hotel Digital Lab (get your invitation to the next Asian sessions here), where Edward Lines, whose mission at Google is to help hotels increase direct bookings, claimed that “more than half of visitors will leave your hotel site if it’s slow, so make sure you have a fast, fluid customer experience.” According to Google, indeed, actual user behaviour shows most people give up after 3 seconds.
While stating that, it is also essential to bear in mind that loading speed has to be contextualized. Your hotel website is an e-commerce site, but also a showcase. This means it displays more large pictures, videos and features than, let’s say, a hardware store website. It is, therefore, much more complex to achieve analogous technical performances.
Page speed optimisation can be expensive and hard to understand: choose a partner that will help you identify quick wins and, after careful analysis, develop a work frame that alleviates your website while keeping it interactive and good-looking.
It is no doubt that technical performance has an essential influence on conversion. Nevertheless, 3% of marketers only say faster loads are their top priority in 20192, which gives you leeway to differentiate from the competition!
IV. Travellers want the best… price!
If you want to sell directly through your hotel website, you need to give it some momentum attributed to a direct-oriented pricing strategy. Ensuring your website offers travellers the best rates can increase your direct web sales by 67%3.
But offering a better price on your official site is not enough. You need to show the benefit to your visitors! There are plenty of widgets that you can use to display a “Best-price guarantee” or a price comparison between your hotel website rate and OTAs rates, for instance. Your web agency can easily integrate them without developing the whole technology from scratch.
Obliquely, setting a pricing strategy that fosters direct bookings on your website has an inherent advantage on your Metasearch positioning: if you’re advertising your hotel website on this channel, which we highly recommend, your direct rates will go up in the results ranking.
V. "The best place to hide a dead body is page two of google"
SEO is vital to ensure your visibility. But you don’t need obscure techniques for your website to shine on search engines. The agency you choose to develop your website should cover the tech bits for you. The focus should be on creating unique fresh content for your users and for search engines who penalise duplicate or old static content.
Make sure to measure your results and continuously optimise based on users behaviour.
Simultaneously with keywords and content strategy, there are new trends to look at when polishing your SEO and trying to improve your official website ranking on Google or other search engines.
As mentioned above, having a mobile-though website is a fundamental prerequisite in 2019.
Another one is to ensure your hotel website is present on the main Metasearch (Google Hotel Ads, HotelsCombine, Kayak, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Trivago and Wego). These players have become the most prominent advertising channels for hotels4 and are a high relay to your official website online presence strategy. As long as you make sure to provide the best offer on your hotel’s site, they will drive travellers into your booking funnel.
Finally, setting up an HTTPS protocol, which uses encryption to ensure that information received or sent by the visitor to the website cannot be read, even if intercepted. Indeed, Google said HTTPS is now one of the factors taken into account in its algorithms for calculating SERPs (Search Engine Result Page). Switching to HTTPS is relevant for your SEO as well as for the user experience: your website is e-commerce, and travellers share banking info with you. A secured website will provide them with the reassurance they need to book direct.
Are you thinking of revamping your hotel website ? Keep this in mind!
Focus on travellers’ needs: choose your graphics carefully and consistently, while focusing on making it easy for travellers to find basic info and book on your website.
Convert: look at your data, A/B test your solutions, adjust and monitor.
Be unique: you can benchmark a thousand hotel websites for inspiration, but travellers are looking for a unique and authentic experience, so you’ll want to differentiate as well.
Long-term view: redesigning your website can’t be done overnight. There’s a multitude of parameters you need to think of and many players you’ll have to involve, providers as well as people among your team. Don’t rush decisions!
Define your real needs: developing a sophisticated website isn’t an easy task and can be time and cost consuming. Don’t take for granted that anything will work with the snap of a finger and focus on what really matters to you.
Security first: not only you need a secure environment, but also you need to be sure that you have the right support during your relationship to make your website secure and reliable.
A website revamping is a big deal: choose a web agency that you trust, and will guide you. On top of a tech-savvy partner, you’ll want an agency that its fair share of experience in the hospitality industry.
Want to have more insight on how to build a successful website or boost your conversion? Contact D-EDGE Web Studio experts.
source : Unbounce study, 2018
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