Findings from a 2017 Travel Website Behavior Study by Fuel and Flip.to suggest that your hotel website is THE MOST influential factor when researching and booking a hotel. In fact, it’s more influential than Word of Mouth (#2), OTAs (#3) Search Engines (#4) and Review Sites (#5).
Hotel Shoppers Are Invested
Hotels therefore need to provide a superior website experience; one that grabs and holds the attention of travel shoppers. According to the study, leisure travelers visit on average 4.4 unique websites before booking a hotel. That’s not a lot. However, they will spend a lot of time on the websites they like. Hotel shoppers spend, on average, 29.8 minutes digging deep into a hotel’s website before making their reservation. This indicates that travel shoppers are willing to explore a hotel website for more than just basic hotel information. In fact, they’re looking for much more than that.
Each time a potential guest visits your website, they are likely at different points of the booking journey. Your website therefore needs to provide content that is relevant to each stage of the booking process – Inspiration, Research, Planning, Validation, and Booking. Hoteliers also need to look closely at their web content, to understand what content is converting, and what might be causing people to leave the site.
Photos Are Important, But Not Just Professional Ones
The study confirmed what we already know – that good photos influence the purchase decision. However, what’s interesting is that while 87% of respondents said photos influenced them during booking, 79% of respondents said that user-generated photos influenced their decision. Hoteliers should take note of this; professional photographs are important, but so too are photos taken by your guests. Using both on your site provides a more accurate depiction of your property and sets guests’ expectations.