Recently, we looked at the importance of user testing hotel websites on Hotel Speak. To highlight how user testing can be useful in finding opportunities to improve, we submitted three of the most popular sites in hospitality for a ‘peek‘ test; a hotel website, an OTA powerhouse and a metasearch giant.
Arguably, the teams behind the Hilton website, Booking.com and Skyscanner are amongst the best in the business, so what can we learn from the masters? Watch the videos below and read our ‘lessons learned’ to find out!
Hotel website – hilton.com
View the video here.
- Be flexible – include an option for those who are ‘flexible with dates’ on your site. Sometimes guests won’t have specific travel dates in mind and are hunting for a good deal; help them find one!
- Avoid confusion – Vaughan Denny recently commented that you mustn’t confuse the user in his 6 lessons that hotels must learn from ecommerce. In this example, the visitor wasn’t sure whether the popup displayed was from Hilton itself or a third party. It detracted from the booking process negatively, with the visitor commenting “it always makes me nervous when you get a popup…that you don’t know where it comes from”.
- Include search by attraction – Hilton allows you to view hotels near attractions. For leisure guests this is a great feature as they’ll often know a few attractions that they’d like to visit in a particular location. For example, on the Hilton website you can search Eiffel Tower and it will show you Hilton brand hotels near the iconic Paris attraction;
OTA – booking.com
View the video here.
- Use attractive imagery – it may seem obvious, but only use your best imagery on your homepage. It’s a visitors first impression and in this example, the first image they saw instantly appealed to the visitor as it looked ‘relaxing’. Also give consideration to what the visitor wants to see and not necessarily just what you want to show them.
- Powerful filtering – Booking.com allows you to filter by Price, Star Rating, Deal, Meals, Property Type, Review Score, Facility, Room Facility, District and Chain. Whilst some of these may not be applicable to your business, empowering the visitor to easily refine their search may well aid conversion.
- Use notifications to catch the eye – The visitor is drawn to the Booking.com ‘notification’ at the top of the page. No accidents here, Booking.com has realised that we’ve become conditioned to notifications in little red boxes (think Facebook, your iPhone etc.). A clever idea, it draws the eye and entices the click.
Metasearch – skyscanner.net
View the video here.
- Be instantly recognisable – The visitor was very quick to realise (in under 10 seconds) that this was “…a website where I can find a hotel”. The homepage states ‘Hotels, Apartments and Hostels’ – the purpose of the site is very clear. Quickly and clearly establish what you’re offering on your homepage to ensure your visitor isn’t confused.
- No imagery above the fold – Skyscanner’s website (for hotels) doesn’t show any imagery above the fold. This may actually be a conscious decision to draw attention to their tool to ‘find hotel deals’. The visitor comments that “there’s a lot of white space” – again, this is a tactic often employed to ensure that attention is drawn to key calls-to-action on a page.
- Consider localisation – The URL submitted to test was skyscanner.net/hotels.html. You could argue that perhaps Skyscanner could have redirected the US visitor to http://www.skyscanner.net/hotels.html?market=US automatically (using their IP address), but regardless, she found her way to the US pages. This is where it got clever, note how Skyscanner localises the navigation to read ‘car rental’ for the US market and ‘car hire’ for the UK market. The distinction between the two may seem a small semantic detail, but it clearly caused the visitor some confusion in this example. Where possible, tailor your content to the audience; consider different languages, terminology and browsing behaviours for international visitors.
It’s important to note that these are the results of a single user test, from a single visitor to the site. This obviously leads to subjective results, so please consider this before making any changes to your website. For more comprehensive and objective results, we’d recommend that a series of user tests should be run.
For clarity, Hotel Speak is not affiliated with User Testing (the company behind ‘Peek’ User Tests) in any way. We just think it’s a useful tool to start your user testing journey. You can submit your own site for your own (free) peek test at http://peek.usertesting.com/