February 15, 2016
From room descriptions to location information, amenities to rates, and everything in between. like
guest reviews, videos, blog posts and booking policies. a hotel website covers a lot of content. But
when choosing a hotel online, a traveler typically checks out numerous websites, and if they don't
quickly find what they're looking for on one, they simply move on to the next. There is just so much
information out there and it can be tedious for consumers to sift through it all to find what is truly
relevant to them.
Furthermore, what's most relevant to one customer might not be so relevant to another. So when it
comes to website content, it's important to include information that's relevant to all your guests,
whether they are leisure, business, group or family travelers. So, how do you keep things simple so that
all your customers can find the information that matters most to them, fast? The key lies in how you
organize your content. Our recent blog post about website navigation offers some tips for keeping your
site simple and intuitive.
Research about how travelers choose hotels online can also help in planning website content. While
every customer is different, the majority rule can help to determine the hierarchy of information on
your hotel website.
A recent study conducted by Breffni Noone from Penn State's School of Hospitality Management and
Stephani K.A. Robson from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration involved tracking 32
individuals' eye movements as they browsed and selected hotels online to analyze how hotel consumers
make online purchase decisions. This research found that during the initial browsing stage consumers
primarily check hotel name, price, images, location and user rating to narrow options down to a
"consideration set" for the deliberation stage. In the deliberation stage consumers review more detailed
information about properties in the consideration set - primarily images, then descriptions, location
information, price and room offers, and user-generated reviews.
While the majority of online hotel consumers use third-party distribution sites during the browsing
stage, consumers often visit hotel websites during the deliberation stage. Here are the features of your
hotel website that matter most to prospective guests:
The research mentioned above shows that images play a critical role throughout the hotel selection
process, so high-quality photography is essential. Images say a lot about a property, instantly providing
consumers with information like property condition, size, layout, personality, etc. Participants in the
study said that old-looking images turned them off.
Use images throughout your site and include slideshow photo galleries that portray interior (guest
rooms, bathrooms, common areas, amenities, meeting spaces) and exterior shots, and photogenic
details (like a close-up of a romantic table setting in your restaurant) that help to show off your
Quality photos of each room type should also be included alongside room descriptions on your "rooms"
The eye-tracking study also confirms that well-written copy is important, with almost every participant
in the study fixating on descriptive text multiple times for each hotel they considered in the deliberation
Put some time and effort into crafting descriptions that convey the stay experience, highlight your
selling points and portray your property's personality.
In addition to a property introduction on your homepage, clear descriptions should be included for each
room type, as well as event and business services, and spa and restaurant facilities. Make sure amenity
lists are prominent and complete.
Travelers aren't simply looking for a place to rest their head at night, they're looking for an experience.
Hotels are an intrinsic part of the travel experience and should promote their local connection to appeal
to customers' spirit of travel.
A mention about your location can be included in the main property description, but location
information should also be presented on a dedicated "location" or "contact" page (or section) with a
map that pinpoints the hotel (and perhaps main attractions), as well as a description of nearby points of
interest and where they are in relation to the property. Show off your local knowledge!
Price & Offers
While website visitors are typically already aware of a property's price range by the time they reach a
hotel's website, Noone and Robson's research showed, unsurprisingly, that consumers frequently look
at prices by room type and special offers during the deliberation stage.
Therefore, be transparent with your rates and don't surprise would-be bookers with hidden fees during
the reservation process. Be upfront with booking and cancellation policies too; we all want to know the
fine print before spending our hard-earned money, so don't make your customers hunt for it.
A lot of research has been done that proves reviews matter and Noone and Robson's study also
supports this with participants looking at four reviews on average during the deliberation stage of the
online booking process. Do you check reviews before booking a hotel when you travel? I bet you do.
Including guest reviews on your hotel website provides the social proof customers desire without having
to leave your site. Handpicked reviews can be added to your website manually, or widgets can be used
to display a live feed from review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp. TripAdvisor badges and rating widgets
can also help to build trust.
Many Web-savvy travelers of today prefer booking hotels online to calling - in fact, well over half of all
hotel reservations are now made online. To encourage customers to book direct rather than through an
OTA (or to prevent them from booking another hotel) make sure you offer secure, user-friendly online
bookings on your property's own website.
Speed & Accessibility
These days most travelers hop from one screen to another (desktop / smartphone / tablet) as they
research travel online, so it's crucial for hotels to have a website that provides an optimal user
experience on all devices. Whether viewed on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone, if your
website is difficult to navigate or is slow to load, you'll lose most visitors within a few seconds. A
responsive design website (a single website that is optimized for all devices) is now more essential than
A hotel website that gives customers what they really want makes it easy to find information that
matters to them. So putting some extra effort into the content and features that are most important to
your prospective guests (as listed above) can dramatically increase conversions.