The good news
2015 was the best year for hotels in a long time with both Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) up significantly. This is great news for the hotel industry, yet it’s not a time for complacency. In a relatively hard to forecast sector, where macro and micro trends affect business in unpredictable ways, and customers expect ever more, you need to be prepared to manage the challenges you can control, and respond to those you can’t.
Whether it’s unstable geopolitical situations affecting international travel, large sporting or cultural events drawing travellers to or away from your venue, the strength/weakness of the pound affecting travellers’ wallets, or new business models disrupting the sector, one of the most important things you can do to build a robust business is ensure your branding and online presence is up to scratch.
Design has a vital role to play in locking
the consumer in from that first click
According to Statisticbrain, over 148 million hotels bookings were made online in 2012. This represented 57% of all bookings. And the use of smartphones for online searches and travel planning is growing at a staggering rate. Another 2012 study (comScore) found that over 50 percent of smartphone users had accessed travel-related sites from their phones. Additionally, one in five smartphone users had actually used their device to make a hotel booking or airline reservation. This figure is already bound to be higher, and with Google’s recent algorithm change which rewards sites which are optimised for mobile with higher rankings, your website absolutely needs to be mobile ready.
Research by international association HFTP (Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals) supports this. “It is not only the OTA’s like Priceline and Orbitz that are experiencing increased mobile traffic. Independent hotels are being searched from smartphones as well. The deal breaker is that in order to compete and harness mobile room bookings, hotels must have mobile-friendly sites”
What converts lookers to bookers?
Everything starts with the online experience. Once price range and location area have been decided, the next factor to influence the hotel decision comes down to design – fundamentally expressed via hotel branding and website design. Aspirational design and branding, coupled with intuitive and considered websites are key factors for successful year-on-year growth for both boutiques and groups. Users visit on average 10 hotel websites before making a booking (see infographic), and poor design and navigation can cause someone to give up in frustration before they get to the booking.
Key elements to get right are:
• Strong branding, reflected in all elements of the experience
• Clean, easy to use website on ALL platforms: desktop, mobile, tablet
• Design that communicates your offer – whether budget, mid range or high end – your points of difference and customer value
• Great photography, an absolutely essential element
So whilst TripAdvisor or booking.com may drive traffic, ensuring your own website is both well designed, and functional on all platforms is crucial to attracting customers, and driving bookings. It just cannot be overstated. A strong digital presence is critical to business success.
The trip starts with the first click
Once booked, travellers love to share details of their upcoming holiday including where they’re staying, showing off the little treasure they’ve found, the value they’re getting or the luxury they’ll be experiencing. Social media does a great job of extending the reach of a booking and will once again drive people to your website – but only if it’s up to scratch. No one wants to share something that doesn’t look good.
Ensuring your own website is both well designed, and functional on all platforms is crucial to attracting customers, and driving bookings.
More than ever before, hotels need to stand out online by customising their offer to attract and maintain loyal guests, give customers added value, and communicate the benefits of their service, all packaged up in a well designed website that works and which can be shared. Design has a vital role to play in locking the consumer in from that first click with welcoming visuals, clear navigation and easy booking to convert the page views to customer reservations.
Source: knight frank, wihphotel.com