Travel consumers dream about, research, plan, book and share travel experiences online, making your hotel website your property’s most important digital marketing asset. Most guests will first discover your property online, so how do you make a great first impression?
An engaging online experience that reflects the stay experience and your property’s brand image is key. And don’t be afraid to exercise some creativity to stand out from the crowd and win guests! Website technology has come a long way over the years, empowering designers to turn creative visions into reality and to greatly enhance the user experience.
Keeping up to date with current website design trends is important for staying competitive and inspiring innovation. But be aware that not all trends are worth following; proven design innovations are much more important than passing fads. Here is our pick of future-proof hotel website design trends that will help your property’s website impress guests in 2021 and beyond.
COVID-19 has made automation vital to cost-efficiency and personalization in a world of social distancing. As we look ahead, AI and machine learning will continue to help hotels get to know guests and serve them effectively well beyond the pandemic. As 2021 unfolds, we predict more and more hotel websites will integrate chatbots to answer website visitors’ common questions, support customers through the booking process, and make recommendations—increasing engagement and conversions.
Boosted by lockdowns and travel restrictions, virtual reality (VR) technology is likely on its way to becoming a permanent tool in the tourism marketing toolbox. Previously seen as not much more than a fun gimmick, VR now provides a valid escape from corona-life, fueling travel dreams for when borders re-open and providing cautious travelers with reassurance before they commit to booking.
360-degree VR videos that can be navigated by the viewer to explore hotel rooms and facilities have shown to increase website engagement as well as exposure and rankings on search engines. We expect to see more VR property tours on hotel websites in 2021 and beyond.
Although small, micro-interactions make a big impact on the user experience. Creating engaging and delightful moments for the user, micro-interactions are small, simple responses that occur on a website when a user takes a particular action—for example, simple animations triggered by scrolling or hovering. Micro-interactions keep users engaged by giving visual feedback that their action is being responded to. They can be as subtle as CTA buttons changing color when hovered over or as fun as unique animated page loaders or progress bars.
Well-executed micro-interactions are understated yet satisfying. They breathe life into a website, enticing users to interact with and explore content. Micro-interactions aren’t a new idea, but they greatly enhance the user experience and help portray the human side of a brand, and we expect to see a lot more of them on hotel websites in the coming year.
Bold, thoughtful color choices
While plenty of white space is in vogue across the internet, white space doesn’t necessarily need to be white. White space simply refers to empty or negative space between elements and helps to achieve a clean, simple uncluttered design, which is pleasing to the eye and easy to view. White space is still in, but what’s changing is a shift towards bold, thoughtful color choices instead of shades of white and gray.
Background color choices that complement branding and/or evoke desired emotions (we’re talking color psychology) achieve that same kind of white-space simplicity but heighten emotional responses, and can really help your website stand out. A designer’s eye is important here though, to ensure that color combinations work well together and don’t impede the readability of your website.
Full-screen homepage hero
Who doesn’t love a striking hero image? A big, beautiful image spanning the width of the homepage makes a big first impression, immediately conveying a sense of place and experience. The perfect way to showcase a property online, full-width hero images have become a standard feature of lodging websites over recent years. But they are getting bigger! Full-screen homepage hero images that span the full width and full height of the screen are even more immersive and are stealing the show on most of the websites we are creating for clients now. Transparent headers allow for a full-bleed image right to the top of the page.
A hotel website typically contains a wealth of content, including image galleries and videos, which—if not managed correctly—can slow a site down. Slow page-load speeds are significantly detrimental to the user experience and can cause prospective guests to give up on your site before they get to know your property or make a booking.
Lazy loading is not a new idea, but it is a good one that results in a faster site that feels fresh. Increasingly used for long-scroll pages like some hotel homepages, the lazy load technique loads page content as the user scrolls, downloading only on-screen content to save time and valuable server resources. It’s the same way your Instagram or Facebook feed loads—it loads as you go.
Just as properties can be made accessible to all guests with amenities such as accessible rooms, elevators and braille signs, hotel websites too can and should be made accessible to everyone. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provide widely accepted standards for website accessibility.
Accessible websites must be perceivable, operable, and understandable to people with disabilities such as vision and hearing impairments and limited fine motor control. Websites should be compatible with assistive technologies such as text-to-speech screen readers, refreshable Braille displays and keyboard navigation. As we welcome a growing global consciousness toward inclusivity in all aspects of life, make sure your property and website welcomes everyone.
Some design trends come and go, but pay close attention to those that endure for a future-proof hotel website that will boost engagement and conversions in 2021 and beyond. If your property’s website is lagging behind the times, we’re here to help! Get in touch with our friendly design team for a free, no-obligation quote.