Your website is your most powerful marketing tool. It’s the first place guests go to learn more about your property and the best way to score direct bookings. Therefore, it’s critical to create a site that inspires a positive first impression and invites users to stay and engage with the content. The more a guest lingers, the likelier they are to convert. Read on for tips to keep visitors on your site longer.
1. Keep it simple
Keeping your site simple is a stone that kills a lot of different birds. Not only is a simple design visually appealing, it makes navigation more intuitive, allows the purpose of your page to stand out, and contributes to faster load times—all of which encourage visitors to stick around. By contrast, a cluttered, busy site can be overwhelming and require too much time and effort to decipher.
2. Stay modern
Websites need to feel current to be effective. A page that looks like it was designed in the 90s does not inspire confidence. Keep your website’s aesthetic up to date to maintain credibility with your online audience. These days, hotel websites incorporate the likes of big, beautiful hero images and videos, text overlays, micro-interactions, and streamlined booking widgets to stay current and engaging.
3. Prioritize visual appeal
This is an obvious one, but visitors won’t stay on pages that don’t appeal visually. A good rule of thumb is to declutter and go for a simple (that doesn’t mean boring!) color palette that reflects your branding. Choose a base color, one or two accents, and around three neutrals. The right color combinations are important, and white space is your friend. It shouldn’t look like a Jackson Pollock painting.
4. Include quality information
Guests need a reason to stay glued to your page. In addition to your property’s services and amenities, offer relevant, high-quality information about your destination. Noteworthy restaurants, bars, and other area attractions are great features to highlight on your site.
A blog is a great place to put this information. Blogging improves your website’s SEO and establishes you as an expert. Post consistently and consider both your brand voice and your personal voice.
5. Tell a story
Turn your stay experience into a story. Who are you, and what makes you unique? What makes your customer unique? Storytelling isn’t only about facts; it’s about how your audience feels. For your hotel, guests want to know how your hotel can solve their problems…and fall in love with it. Thematic language and brand slogans, quality images, video, and colors all work together to tell your property’s story.
Make it easy to read >> Telling your story doesn’t mean writing a novel. For your website to engage guests, it has to be easy to read. They’re looking for the experience and amenities your property offers, not Moby Dick. Large text blocks scare people away, so ensure your copy is as concise as possible and use bullet points. People love lists.
Use multiple mediums >> Convey your story and capture visitors’ attention with multi-media content. Photos and videos hook users. (Hint: VR tours are in vogue.) But remember to embed those videos. You never want to encourage a guest to navigate away from your site.
6. Ensure fast load times
If your site takes too long to load, you can guarantee a high bounce rate and a lower conversion rate. A site that loads in 10 seconds has a five times lower conversion rate than one that takes only a second. It’s critical to minimize any delays. Make sure that all your files, images, video, etc., are compressed and that your hosting provider isn’t holding you back.
7. Use a responsive design
A mobile-friendly website is a must. Use a responsive design so that the format and layout of your site automatically adapts to the device accessing it. Almost 60% of global website traffic happens via mobile now… Websites that aren’t optimized for different devices are easily dismissed.
8. Create a flow
It’s important to think about how guests will be moving through your website. To keep guests’ attention, you need to create a natural flow that inspires them to continue perusing. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and ask yourself what you’d want to know next. In addition to a clear navigation menu, use internal linking (of keyword anchor text) and CTA buttons to connect pages in a way that facilitates your customer’s journey.
Find out what pages guests visit often and make sure they’re never more than a single click away from the homepage. In addition, your booking engine should be accessible on every page. Your header is a good place for that ‘book now’ button.
It’s also helpful to use a chatbot. Guests can have simple questions answered without having to wait for your staff, then continue browsing. It keeps their focus on your website and reduces time spent on interruptions.
9. Make it accessible
Include an accessibility widget for people with disabilities. Such a widget allows people to apply display adaptations at the click of a button, like larger text, wider text spacing, and dyslexia-friendly font. Have image alt text and closed captioning (for videos) in place as well.
As an extension of your property and business identity, your website is an important investment. Ensure you’re putting your best foot forward by creating a design that encourages guests to linger long enough to click that ‘book now’ button!
Need a hand designing (or redesigning) your website? Contact our team today for a free, no-obligation quote!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published November 2017 and updated March 2023.