The best hotel websites have these features in common.
Should hotels make a booking website?
You might be on the fence about putting time and money into developing (and then managing) an independent hotel website for your brand. After all, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) dominate organic first page search results—you can get bookings through them. Not to mention, free social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram allow you to connect with potential guests—and respond to their inquiries in real time. So, is there actually a good reason to invest in designing your own hotel website?
Benefits of building a hotel website
When done right, there’s a lot more value to be gained from a hotel website than when you depend solely on third-party providers and social media platforms to market your hotel.
✅ It’s easier for potential guests to discover your brand
You might be wondering, since they have prime real estate on search results pages, aren’t OTA sites more than enough to build awareness?
No – not if you consider that for any given destination, hundreds if not thousands of properties are fighting for attention from the same set of eyes that you are. It’s competitive out there!
And with so many lodging options to choose from, yours can easily be overlooked for the first one on the page or the one with lower rates.
That’s why showing up in search results is highly sought-after in the travel booking industry.
In fact, a search-optimized website (and the use of hotel landing pages) can make it easier to get your brand in front of the market segments you’re targeting—without all the corresponding noise from the competition.
ℹ️ Did you know?
Accommodation searches that started on search engines increased to 31% in 2018 compared to just 23% in the previous year.
✅ You can secure better bookings sooner rather than later
A 2018 study found that 84% of Americans surveyed are more likely to book their travel arrangements through bundling sites rather than book direct.
Doesn’t that mean it’s more important to focus on booking portals rather than building your own hotel website?
Not really. Because while booking platforms land your hotel directly in front of potential bookers anywhere in the world, their commission structure can make a sizeable dent in your earnings. We’re talking losing up to 30% of reservation value to third parties! Frankly, what you pay out in commission for every booking may just not be worth it. Especially when you can be spending less with your own booking system.
Better bookings are those that cost you less; they’re more profitable for your hotel in the long run.
ℹ️ Did you know?
Research found that “travel-shopping journeys that began with search led to purchases more quickly than those that began on the sites of suppliers and intermediaries.”
✅ Provide as much information as needed to land the booking
Travelers tend to research their accommodation options but booking portals’ descriptions don’t always include all the information people are looking for. OTA descriptions can also be very boring and repetitive, making each hotel listing sound practically identical! That’s why, at some point during a traveler’s purchase journey, the potential guest will want to take a look at your website for a better picture of what to expect.
Unlike third-party booking sites, your hotel website allows you to tell your story. That’s in addition to sharing essential information ranging from the details of your location and what’s around you to what time you serve breakfast. Your website is where you break down the barriers of indecision. You can reassure travelers about booking with you with content that builds excitement—and copy that makes the traveler confident about his choice.
ℹ️ Did you know?
The average search for a hotel room lasts 36 days, spread out over search engines as well as intermediaries’ and suppliers’ websites, and encountering 45 points of contact or interaction.
✅ Create a great first impression
A guest’s first impression of your brand is formed well before they’ve set foot in your property. It’s shaped by what they see and read about you online, which is why your hotel’s web design is so important.
Unlike OTAs, where every hotel is displayed identically, your website allows you to present yourself the way you want to. Here, you have all the space and freedom to shape your identity and craft a compelling message that will convert lookers into bookers.
You control what you say—and how you say it. Put another way: You get to have a personality! You also design the user experience, which is an extension of your brand image and influences what guests feel they can expect in reality.
Features of effective hotel websites
Want to build an awesome hotel website that also brings bookings? Then you need to have basic hotel website requirements down pat.
Here’s what every high-converting hotel website must have.
Up-to-date design and clear navigation
- Design and functionality that reflects the best practices of current times—the user experience influences perception.
- Easy navigation that isn’t confusing.
- No broken links.
- Pages should load beautifully and correctly on all types of devices.
- Pages – even image-heavy ones – should be quick to load.
Direct booking function
- Have a secure booking engine.
- It must be user-friendly to eliminate friction—completing the booking should be quick and simple.
- Ideally, the booking machine should be housed on-site and not require prospects to leave your website to complete a booking.
- Inspiring, interesting and persuasive.
- Must be optimized for search engines (SEO).
- Include powerful calls to action.
- Attractive, high-definition photos and video content.
- Accurate—no fakes, highly photoshopped or misleading images.
Relevant and consistent content
- Well-planned content written for specific buyer personas.
- High-quality evergreen as well as timely content.
- Search-friendly and appropriate for various stages of the purchase journey.
- Prominent contact information – easy to spot on all pages.
- Provide different ways for readers to get in contact – email, contact form, live chat, and via social channels.
- Share client testimonials or reviews on your website—including negative ones for transparency.