Confused man looking at his phone

The most important purpose of a hotel website is to generate bookings, but even the most beautiful site can be guilty of killing conversions. No matter how eye-catching your visual design, how intriguing your story, or how intuitive your navigation is, if your website is making the below blunders, it’s losing bookings.

Not Responsive

Mobile accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide, so we know that consumers are using their mobile devices to research places to stay. Even if your customers end up booking online via desktop, their first impression of your property will most likely be formed based on the experience of your website on mobile.

With tiny font, hard-to-click links, squished or cut-off layout, and difficult navigation, a designed-fordesktop-only website viewed on a mobile device is bad for your customers and your business. Make sure your property is getting on your customers’ radar by providing a great user experience on both mobile and desktop. How? By now the answer should be obvious: through responsive design.

A responsive design automatically detects the device it is being viewed on and adjusts layout, content and functionality to provide the best user experience on that device. With just one website, you can provide an optimized and consistent user experience across all devices. Like consumers, search engines also favor responsive websites over sites that are not mobile friendly, making responsive design critical to SEO too.

In these mobile-dependent times of ours, a responsive hotel website is absolutely essential for driving bookings.

Non-user-friendly Direct Online Bookings

Another huge (and obvious) hotel web design mistake in our world of online shopping is a clunky or complicated direct online booking process—or worse, no online bookings at all.

From groceries to hotel stays, we can purchase almost anything online. Today’s consumers expect streamlined online check-out processes that give them confidence and make purchases easy. A nonuser-friendly online booking process—like one with longwinded forms, or an unsecure URL, or that doesn’t work well on mobile—leads to abandoned bookings.

Major OTAs like Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb are prime examples of what consumers expect from an online hotel booking experience. Make sure your property’s own website follows suit with an online booking engine that is integrated with your PMS for live rates and availability, and offers your customers a simple, secure and mobile-friendly booking process. Look for a commission-free booking engine that offers flexibility to support your pricing strategies, performance analytics, and conversion-boosting features like photo slideshows, multiple currencies, and close-match results.

Your online booking engine should always be readily accessible to customers wherever they are on your website, to catch them as soon as they make the decision to book. You don’t want them to get distracted! Ideally, the “book now” button should always be on screen, located, for example, in a sticky menu.

The key to driving direct conversions is to make it as easy as you can for customers to book on your property’s website.

Not Secure

It’s not just your online booking engine that must be secure; your entire website should offer consumers a safe and private browsing experience.

Up to 85 percent of internet users won’t continue browsing a website if it isn’t secure. If your website doesn’t give your customers confidence they’ll never even make it to your online booking engine. With the proliferation of data theft, internet users are more aware and careful than ever.

An important way to safeguard your website is with HTTPS, which is an internet communication protocol that protects the privacy and authenticity of data passed between your website and the user’s computer. To help internet users stay safe, web browsers display HTTPS or a padlock icon with the website URL, signifying to users that the site is secure.

But beware if your website isn’t secure! Browsers also alert users to unsecure (HTTP) websites by displaying “Not secure” warnings alongside the URL—imagine what that does to conversion rates!

Bad Photos

We’ve seen plenty of modern hotel website designs brought down by bad photos—you know the type, those pixelated, low-resolution images stretched to fit screen-spanning sliders, amateur shots with bad lighting and composition, broken images, stock photos you’re sure you’ve seen somewhere else…

Images are the most effective way to convey the stay experience, so photos are critically important to a hotel website, especially in today’s hyper-competitive hotel marketplace. It’s hard to sell rooms online without quality, authentic images that present a property in its best light.

Unless you have a real flair for photography, it pays to invest in the services of a professional photographer. Make sure you include images of all room types as well as hotel facilities, common areas, and exterior and location shots too. High-res photos optimized for the web will display nicely in large formats without slowing down page-load times too much. Read our recent blog post for more guidance on how to use hotel website photos to maximize conversions.

Too Slow

Statistics say, if your website takes 5 seconds or more to load, approximately 40 percent (almost half!) of consumers will abandon your site before it even loads. Ouch! Long gone are the days we’d sit patiently, waiting for our dial-up modems to connect to the internet; mobile technology has made us creatures of instant gratification who just don’t have the time or patience to wait for slow websites.

Detrimental to the user experience, slow loading times negatively impact a website’s ranking in search engine results too, which is another big blow to potential conversions.

To maximize bookings, aim for a page-load speed of 3 seconds or less. There are many actions you can take to improve your website’s speed, including choosing a simple design, optimizing images and video for the web, prioritizing above-the-fold content, enabling compression, minifying JavaScript and CSS files, and more.

Find out how well your website performs and what you can do to make it faster with Google’s PageSpeed Insights test.


It’s a competitive world out there in hotel digital marketing. Make sure your conversion rate isn’t falling victim to one of the above hotel website design mistakes. A responsive design, user-friendly online bookings, site security, great photos and page-load speed are all essential for converting lookers into direct bookers. Contact us to discuss your redesign needs.