The importance of a hotel website cannot be overstated. With OTA commission fees ranging anywhere from 15-30%, hotels need to have their own channel for direct bookings. The entire purpose of a hotel website is to own your bookings and avoid paying steep commissions to OTAs.
Hotel website features really do vary. Flashy animations and trendy templates might seem fun at first but will do very little to help your property get bookings.
The best hotel website design doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles. In reality, less is more! For a hotel website that converts, here are the 11 things you absolutely need to have.
Hotel Website Design Must-Haves
1. RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Long gone are the days when hotels could get away with a website that wasn’t mobile-friendly. Research shows that consumers are increasingly using multiple devices to research, plan, and book their travels. But what does it mean to have “responsive” design?
Responsive design is an approach to web design that renders the site into the best format based on the screen size or device being used.
Are you viewing this blog post on your phone? You’ll notice that the website’s navigation is condensed and hidden behind a simple menu folder up at the top. You also don’t have to pinch and zoom in on the text, because the font size has adjusted to fit the screen.
How about on desktop? To see what I mean, use your cursor to hover over the left edge of the screen. You’ll see an arrow symbol (←→) appear. Click and drag the browser to the right and you’ll see that the page content automatically adjusts to fit the new screen size. Neat, eh? This is responsive design.
2. GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY
High-quality images are an essential part of any hotel website design. It’s simple: customers want to know what it is they’re paying for.
Hotel photography is often a major investment, but I’d argue it’s one of your most important marketing assets. Your photography won’t just be living on your hotel website, it’s a necessary part of your sales collateral and social media strategy, too.
Whether you’re opening a new hotel or just finished a renovation, it doesn’t hurt to revisit your images. Here’s a quick hotel photography shot list to reference:
Front Exterior – aim for the most attractive angle(s), and get a mix of daytime, sunset/dusk, and night
Hotel Lobby – with and without front desk colleagues
Rooms – shoot every room category, if possible. Get a “hero” shot showing the full space, as well as details like the view, work area, and bedside. Don’t forget the bathrooms!
Meetings – aim to showcase the flexibility of your meeting rooms by setting up different configurations
Weddings & Events – if weddings and social events are part of your business strategy, you need a selection of supporting images. In this category, styled shots work best. You may want to hire models and dedicate time/budget for a separate photoshoot.
Dining – at minimum, aim for a few wide “hero” shots of your F&B outlets and some attractive shots of your standard menu offerings. You may want to also get an appealing photo of your in-room dining offering.
Spa – if you have a spa, grab some “hero” shots and some detail photos of specific offerings like the massage area, beauty treatments, or sauna.
Pool – resort amenities like a pool or beach access are particularly great to shoot from above with a drone!
Other Amenities – this list could go on! The important thing is to capture what makes your property unique and attractive to potential guests.
With hotel photography, more variety is better. Guests want to be able to picture themselves at your property! Make sure your budget covers “hero” shots at minimum, but try to get more lifestyle images and detail shots if possible.
Speaking of high-quality images, they can really slow down your site if you let them. How often have you landed on a website that took ages to load? Modern attention spans are short. Don’t make them wait!
The best hotel websites load in 2-3 seconds. To help speed things up, try to limit the number of plugins and redirects. If you have videos on your site, host them somewhere else, like on YouTube or Vimeo.
Make sure that the images you upload are compressed to optimal sizes. Here are a few quick rules of thumb:
Save photos as JPG files and graphics/logos as PNG
Photos should be 72dpi or 92dpi resolution for web (print typically requires about 300dpi)
Large images should be no more than 1 MB
Full-screen, background images should be around 2000 pixels wide
While not the sexiest subject, page load speed is important to consider. Slow websites stop customers from booking direct. It can also hurt you in search since Google penalizes slow-loading sites in their search result rankings.
You can check your hotel website’s page speed using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
What Your Hotel Website Needs To Generate Conversions
4. DIRECT BOOKING CALL-TO-ACTION
Friendly reminder: The purpose of a hotel website is to generate direct bookings. Make sure you choose a secure, integrated booking engine that syncs up with your PMS.
At any given time while a user explores your website, that “Book Now” button should be visible. Make it clear and make it pop using a contrasting color. For some bonus reading, SEO guru Neil Patel wrote an excellent guide on how color can be used to drive website conversions.
You also want to choose a hotel booking engine that plays nicely with the rest of your website. Look for a tool that includes seamless, responsive design.
5. LEAD GENERATION
While direct bookings are the main goal of your hotel website, conversions aren’t limited to room reservations. What about meetings and group business? Weddings? Restaurant bookings? Your website should generate leads for your hotel’s other revenue streams, too.
One of the best lead generation tactics for hotels is offering an irresistible lead magnet. If you’re curious about how hotels can use lead magnets, this post goes into way more depth about the topic — including what they are and how to set one up.
Make sure your hotel website offers clear direction to meeting planners and prospective wedding bookers. To get more prospects in your inbox and site visits on the books, your contact information needs to be front and center.
How To Make Your Hotel Website More Trustworthy
One of the reasons OTAs are so popular with consumers is that they enjoy a certain degree of trust. Brands like Booking.com and Expedia have built that trust by giving people what they want: an easy way to find and book the best hotels.
For a hotel to compete, they need to have a brand that resonates with customers.
From a visual standpoint, consistent branding tells consumers that your website is legitimate and can be trusted. Branding extends to your website address itself. Would you trust your credit card info on a site called myawesomehotel14.freewebsitebuilder.com?
Hotel branding is also a useful exercise in uncovering what attracts your customer personas. Maybe your price point and amenities are most appealing to luxury-minded business executives. You may want to keep your branding sleek and minimalist. If you want to attract a younger, more adventurous traveler, try incorporating bold punches of color and playful copy.
Always aim to craft a consistent brand that keeps your ideal audience in mind.
7. SOCIAL PROOF
Another important way hotels can make their websites more trustworthy is through social proof. Social proof, in technical terms, is “a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.”
In plain English, social proof means people trust something when others vouch for it.
96% of customers surveyed by TrustYou consider reviews important when researching a hotel. This is why testimonials from real hotel guests are incredibly impactful. The best hotel websites show real reviews from trusted third-party sources like TripAdvisor and Google.
Social proof can also include social media. Consider adding a feed of user-generated content (UGC) sourced from social platforms like Instagram or Facebook.
What Kind of Content Goes On a Hotel Website?
8. ONLY WHAT’S USEFUL AND RELEVANT
Hotel website content needs to be two things: useful and relevant. Contrary to some advice, that doesn’t mean you need a landing page for every single amenity you offer. Keep in mind, your hotel only has one page on an OTA.
What OTAs do well is condensing all the “useful and relevant” content about a hotel. Property listings come with a general description, room types with specs, your reservation policies, and a bulleted list of amenities. That’s it.
The opportunity you have with a hotel website is to sell your story better. So yes, stick to the most important stuff — but make it compelling!
Hotel website content should answer all of your guests’ most pressing questions, so they don’t have to start frantically Googling around. How big is the room? Is there a view? Should I pack my hairdryer? Where is the hotel and how do I get there from the airport/in my car? What is there to do nearby? And so on, and so on.
9. CONSIDER ADDING A BLOG
Blogging can be a very powerful content marketing strategy for hotels. Having a blog on your hotel website gives you more space to create valuable content that attracts your ideal guests. Blogging is also great for SEO.
I like to suggest that hotels use a blog to create a go-to resource for their destination. Help guests discover all the great things to do in your area, where to eat/drink, how to travel there with kids, etc.
Blogging can also be used for B2B purposes. Why not guide potential meeting planners on the latest trends?
What Does You Hotel Website Need Behind The Scenes?
10. ANALYTICS AND PIXELS
Let’s not forget about the nuts and bolts. There are a few basic things every hotel website needs to have on the back-end. Analytics and tracking pixels make it possible to access powerful insights and better ad targeting.
Both are easier to set up than you might think.
If you’re working with a web designer, they should know exactly what to do. If not, here are two step-by-step tutorials to follow:
Google Analytics is free and a great place to start tracking your hotel website’s most important metrics. To set it up, all you need to do is create an account and copy/paste a short line of code into your website’s Header.
Adding a Facebook pixel follows similar steps. With a Facebook pixel on your hotel website, you’re able to build more powerful ad campaigns. You can target users based on the actions they’ve taken on your site, like viewing certain pages, submitting an RFP, or abandoning a booking.
11. BUILT-IN SEO
Whether you’re using a simple website builder like Squarespace or have a fully-developed and custom design, search engine optimization needs to be built-in.
Look for fields to input a custom page URL, page title, meta description, and for images, alt text.
If your hotel website is built on WordPress, one of the best SEO plug-ins to add is Yoast. Yoast makes it easy to choose a target keyword and prompts you to place that keyword in all the right places on the page.
So, there you have it: 11 things every hotel website needs to have. What would you add to the list?