As the travel industry begins on a long road of recovery from COVID-19, hotel websites need to shine brightly to attract cautious travelers.
The most important page of any business’s website, the homepage is where most new customers will land from a search engine or other external links. In many cases, the impression a potential guest gets from your homepage in just a few seconds determines whether they explore your site further or leave immediately. So your homepage needs to make a good impression, fast.
A hotel website’s homepage should be visually appealing and tell a story that entices visitors to explore, intuitively guiding them along their own path to booking. Here are our top tips to make sure it does just that.
Reflect your brand (and target market)
If your homepage reflects your property’s personality or brand, it should also naturally reflect your target market(s). You want potential guests to land on your homepage and think, “This is my kind of place.”
Central to visual design, color is key to brand recognition and customer appeal. Choose your color palette carefully, in alignment with your brand colors or logo and the emotional response you want to elicit. For example, black, gray, purple and gold are typically associated with luxury; greens, blues and browns with calmness and nature; and bright blues, red, orange and yellow with energy and fun. But don’t get carried away—too many colours can be distracting or overwhelming. Try to stick to a simple color scheme of three main colors that work well together: the background color (a neutral color) and a couple of accent colours (brand colors).
Tone of voice through written content is also important for conveying your brand. Choose wording that reflects the personality of your property (edgy, sophisticated, relaxed, fun?) and who your guests are. For example, a conference hotel would likely choose a professional tone of voice, a luxury boutique inn might use plenty of sensory-rich language, while a website for a backpackers’ hostel may feature a casual, playful voice. Inject personality into written content to strike a chord with your customers—and whether your brand voice is formal or informal, ensure that all written content is always written well (no grammar errors or spelling mistakes!).
Answer the most important questions
Visitors to your homepage are looking for information about your property. While you can’t answer all questions on your homepage, there is certain information that customers shouldn’t have to dig deeper into your site to find. Remember, consumers take just a few seconds to decide if they like a website/business enough to explore further, so give them the answers to their burning questions up front.
Think of your homepage as an overview of your property and the stay experience.
>> Who are you?
A short written introduction along with well-chosen images and your website’s visual design should convey the essence of your property.
>> Where are you?
While your website should feature a separate “Location” or “Contact” page with a map and other helpful location information, your property’s location should also be immediately apparent on your homepage. Your property’s location or neighborhood can be mentioned within the written introduction as appropriate, and contact information (physical address, email and phone number) should be included in the header or footer of the page to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you.
>> What do you offer?
While other pages of your site dedicated to room types, packages, services and amenities will offer complete information about what your property offers, your homepage should introduce what you offer, inviting visitors to learn more with CTAs (calls to action) that lead them to the applicable pages. For example, your homepage could highlight your most popular room types, along with a “View Our Rooms” button that takes visitors to your “Rooms” page for further details and images.
>> How are you different?
Your USP (unique selling proposition) is what sets you apart from your competition and should be promoted front and center. Whether it’s your super convenient location, locally loved restaurant or attention to detail, your USP should be highlighted through written copy and images. Featuring positive reviews that praise your property’s distinctive features is a great way to convey your USP to prospective guests too.
>> How can I book or contact you?
The main purpose of your hotel’s website is to drive bookings, so make it easy for customers to book through your website or to contact your property directly. Your “Book Now” CTA should always be readily accessible, ideally displayed in the main menu which should stick to the top of the screen as the user scrolls down the page (every page) and can also be included elsewhere on the homepage as appropriate, for example, via an availability search widget and/or along with accommodation descriptions. As mentioned above, your contact details should also be available within the header and/or footer of every page.
If your homepage appeals, most visitors will want to explore your website further for more information before making the decision to book with you. Whether they want to view more images of your rooms, confirm that you offer the amenities they desire, find room prices, or learn more about your neighborhood, the things that matter most to your visitors will vary. Each visitor will follow their own path to purchase, so intuitive navigation is key to increasing conversion rates.
Keep navigation simple with a main menu at the top of the page and strategically placed CTAs throughout the page. Using a conventional menu style such as a horizontal menu for desktop and hamburger menu for mobile helps make navigation instinctive for users through familiarity.
It should be clear to users how to get to the information they want next—either through the main menu or CTAs—and it should only ever be a single click away. If website visitors can’t find what they want fast, you risk losing them to a competitor.
High-quality photography is essential for a hotel website—especially a homepage—that aims to convert lookers to bookers. Images resonate with and captivate viewers and play a key role in selling rooms.
When it comes to your homepage, screen-spanning hero images or sliders are an effective way to immediately capture your audience’s attention and convey the “experience” of your property. For your homepage slider, choose four to six of your best high-resolution photos that together give a good overview of your property’s story.
Because consumers buy with their eyes, it pays to invest in professional photography for your website.
Images that sell are composed well and show your property in its best light, from the right angle.
Google research shows that internet users prefer websites that are visually uncluttered and easy to navigate and understand. A simple design removes any unnecessary distractions, focusing visitors on what’s important with easy-to read font, concise written content, quality images and plenty of white space.
Simple design is especially important for the small screens of mobile devices. Because 94 percent of leisure travelers use multiple devices (mobile phone, tablet, desktop) as they plan a trip, taking a mobile-first approach to hotel website design is a great way to ensure a simple, intuitive and effective design that generates more bookings across all devices.
In order to convince travel consumers to spend their hard-earned money with your business, you need to gain their trust. There are several ways your homepage can earn the trust of website visitors, starting with a professional design. While an outdated or amateur-looking design does little to inspire confidence, a polished, user-friendly secure website gives credibility to any business.
As well, badly written content comes across as unprofessional, so well-written, error-free copy is also crucial to credibility. If a business doesn’t have the time or resources to invest in effective communication, where else are they cutting corners?
You can help reassure customers that your business can be trusted by including a hand-picked selection of positive guest reviews on your homepage (or embed a review feed from a review site like TripAdvisor) and/or badges for your property’s professional affiliations and awards.
The most important page of a hotel website, the homepage needs to make a good impression fast. Follow the above tips for a homepage that grabs your customers’ attention, conveys your property’s unique stay experience and guides customers intuitively and reassuringly along their path to booking.
If you’re considering a redesign for your property’s website, contact us for a no-obligation chat with one of our helpful designers.