person drawing out a website design which could be used to help hotels drive direct bookings

Imagine a keen traveller in the days before the internet looking for a place to go and explore.

NB: This is an article from GuestRevu

They saunter into a travel agent’s office and look at a wall of around 50 brochures. Which one do they choose? how long do they continue to look at it? What makes them take that brochure home and phone the hotel to place their booking?

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Now we have the internet and we have hundreds of thousands of those prospective travellers, sauntering (virtually) through millions of digital brochures, or websites. How can you make yours stand out from the crowd? How do you keep your guests attention? And most importantly how do you encourage them to book with you?

The answer is simple: really great website design. 

While the answer may be simple, the execution can be more challenging,  here are some tips to enhance your hotels’ website and increase your direct bookings. 

Make sure everyone can use your website – and make a booking

In the same way it’s impossible to experience your hotel the way a guest would, it’s also impossible for you to experience your website the way a prospective traveller might. You already know your property, your website, where to find certain information and what you are trying to say, so your view isn’t objective. 

Ask people who are unfamiliar with your website to navigate it and try to perform certain actions, like booking a room or finding out what amenities your property offers. If your test users get lost, frustrated or confused, you have a problem. Ask your test users how you can improve the usability of your site, and listen to their advice. 

Once you know where the functionality may be lacking, you can begin to correct the user journey. Generally, you would need to look at your ease of booking, which is your website’s most important function. Ensure potential guests visiting your website have a frictionless booking journey with an integrated booking engine or property management system (PMS) with built-in booking capabilities. Important information should always be displayed “above the fold” (this means it is visible to the user without them having to scroll) and all the user’s attention should be directed towards calls to action to “search” and/or “book”. 

The payment process is also often a point of friction for online bookers – most noticeably if this is the first time they are transacting through your website.

Potential guests’ feelings around online payment gateways may mean the difference between a direct booking or someone reverting back to a ‘trusted’ OTA to complete their booking. Put potential guests’ minds at ease with guest-friendly cancellation policies which are clearly communicated. Use safe and secure payment gates and communicate the safety aspects of the sites to your guests. 

Remember, if your booking process is too complicated, people will end up booking through an online travel agent (OTA) or even worse, at a competing hotel.

Read rest of the article at GuestRevu