We already have a good idea of what travelers want from your hotel website, from flexible cancellation policies to guest reviews and easy bookings. But we wanted to dig a little deeper into the technical side of web design and how that influences your guest’s stay from the moment they first became a web visitor. Not only can their website experience make or break a booking, but it shapes guest expectations as well. It’s all part of keeping your guests at the heart of your hotel. In terms of web design, we call this user experience or UX and it’s based on providing visitors with meaningful and relevant experiences. Here are 5 guest-centric web design essentials you can start to incorporate today.
1. Solve Guest Problems
Don’t wait for your guests to ask you questions. Anticipate what information they want from your website and provide it for them. If you’re unsure, your front desk staff will be well versed in what the most frequently asked questions are. Then go one step further to think about what problems your guests may have and how a stay at your hotel solves that problem for them. Perhaps you host primarily business travelers. A problem they might have is finding a place that has fast and free internet access, a spacious workspace, and unlimited coffee. Make sure your offerings are highlighted for these guests. Perhaps their problems are even more personal, such as feeling a sense of malaise or stress as we recover worldwide from the pandemic. What can you offer guests that gives them hope, relieves stress, and provides a sense of connection?
Answering these questions proactively can come through written content, but think about how this translates into imagery and videos, as well as web design itself, which can evoke different emotions and messages based on colors and formatting.
2. Reduce Friction
Anytime you create friction, you erode your customer experience. When it comes to web design, examples of friction are slow site speed, time outs, irrelevant information, inconsistent formatting, cluttered content, clunky booking systems, and hard-to-find information.
A web designer can help you identify and reduce friction on your site. Doing so will boost your customers’ experiences, build trust, and increase bookings!
The future of customer experience is personalization. As a hotelier, you already know this is important to your guests’ stay. Many hotels offer customized services and curated experiences to ensure the comfort of their guests and to build loyalty for repeat bookings. It’s also becoming more common for hotels to use CRM (customer relationship management) software to help manage guest profile data, such as birthdays and anniversaries, or a beloved pet’s favorite treat. As personalization grows, we see this translated into web design now, too.
There are tools your web designer can advise you on that can help you deliver personalized content and offers to either previous guests or data collected via email signups. For example, using an email marketing platform, you can target web visitors who are already signed up for your emails with specific pop-ups that will be of interest to them. Or promote a hotel marketing video targeted to an interest-based group on Facebook. You can direct those who click on those ads to a landing page that matches the interests of the audience you targeted.
There are also AI tools like Granify that can leverage predictive analytics based on various data sources and create behavioral messaging to increase conversion rates and bookings. Real-time website personalization is also possible with Personyze, for example, which creates on-the-spot visitor profiles to then serve up content that will be most relevant to them.
One simple change you can make today is to install a chatbot on your website, monitored by your front desk staff, to provide quick guest assistance. A chatbot can handle the most frequently asked questions, which is the perfect way to use technology for that personal touch.
4. Create Delight
There are many ways you create delight for guests at your hotel, from friendly staff smiles to in-room coffee, or complimentary wine for an anniversary. How can you recreate this experience on your website? When it comes to design, creating delight for your web guests can be as simple as reducing friction (see point number two), consistent eye-catching branding, easy site navigation, and a great online reservation system.
Other ways of creating delight come in the form of offering the unexpected, such as a pop-up with a surprise discount or value-add coupon, or a downloadable visitors’ guide. Confirming a booking is another opportunity to create delight with a bonus restaurant coupon for their stay or an invitation to enjoy a complimentary cocktail on arrival, for example.
5. Address the Google in the Room: Core Web Vitals
As of June 2021, Google began rolling out an algorithm that changes how it will rank websites. Google’s Core Web Vitals is a set of user-focused metrics based on overall page experience. Guest-centric design has never been more important! Google wants to send visitors to websites that provide a smooth and seamless UX.
What are these Core Web Vitals that Google will use to measure your site’s health?
- Content loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint): this is basically how fast your main content (text and visuals) loads on a page.
- Interactivity (First Input Delay): This measures the action a visitor makes on your page and how long it is before that action is executed, such as clicking on links and buttons, and onsite searching.
- Visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift): This is the stability of your webpage as it loads and content shifts into place. Poor visual stability is evident when content jumps around as you wait for the page to load…sometimes resulting in clicking in the wrong place.
It’s exciting to see user experience play an integral role in Google ranking and is just further proof that providing a positive guest experience on your website is more than a trend—it’s of vital importance! Your trusty web designer is here for this.
Remember, there’s no finish line when it comes to good web design, rather it’s a process of evolution and improvement as your business grows, design trends emerge, and search engine algorithms change. Instead of trying to do all the things, keep your guests front and center to help you prioritize what must be done now versus what can be done later.