Hospitality professionals are presented with numerous challenges associated with running a hotel or B&B. As an hotelier, it can seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day. According to a recent survey by BLLA, hoteliers at boutique hotels spend 58% of their time on sales and marketing activities.

With all that time spent on marketing, are you seeing results, in the form of direct bookings, from your efforts? Based on our research the answer for most hoteliers is no. In a poll we conducted at the end of 2015, 60% of hoteliers said their biggest challenge was driving direct website conversions.

So, in a recent webinar, we looked at 5 best practices to build a high-performing hotel website – one that converts. Here are 7 hotels that are using these best practices and reaping the rewards.

Hotel X Gives Travel Shoppers What They Want

The first best practice we explored was: Give Travel Shoppers What They Want. This means leading with content (and images) guests most want to see. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the exterior of your hotel. We have found that by far Guest Rooms are the most commonly searched image type, followed by the amenities that set your property apart, like your restaurant, pool or even spa.

The Hotel X is an urban resort, due to open in the heart of Toronto in 2017. The Hotel X markets itself to travel shoppers who are not just looking for a place to sleep, but looking for an all-around experience filled with leisure and entertainment options. Specifically their Experience X page uses visuals to showcase the many entertainment options available to guests (including 2 movie theatres, a 3 storey rooftop SkyBar and a 90,000 sq. ft. athletic facility). You can click on any of the entertainment options for more details to find something that interests you.

Hotel X’s Experience X page shows the many amenities guests have access to.

Visual Storytelling Separates Big4 Sunshine & Harmony Spa

They say a picture is a worth a thousand words, and there is some truth to that statement. Studies have shown that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of us are visual learners. Therefore it is important to use visual images to create an emotional connection with consumers. This is best accomplished with snackable visual content. Pictures, videos, snaps or tweets, short bursts of information that tell your hotel’s story.

When you visit Big4 Sunshine’s website you can instantly tell that this hotel is great for families. The homepage is full of images of families enjoying the many amenities, like their on-site waterpark. The visual storytelling family narrative is continued on the gallery page where they have a story dedicated to families. The content in the gallery includes images and short videos, snackable content, that is given context by small burst of accompanying text.

The Big4 Sunshine’s homepage shows that their hotel is fun for the whole family.

When you compare the Aria Budapest’s Harmony Spa website to the Big4 Sunshine, you can see that it’s likely best to leave the kids at home for this trip. Their use of images and rich media tell the story of a relaxing couple’s getaway or rejuvenating girls’ trip. The rich media will have guests rushing to book their favorite spa package. Creating a separate dedicated website for your on-site services is also a great way to drive ancillary revenue.

The Harmony Spa showcases a relaxing weekend for adults.

The Heart of the Village Inn Leverages Social Proof

Today’s travel shoppers want to make sure they’re booking the right hotel. This has led to an increased reliance on guest reviews and other forms of social proof. 89% of global travelers consider online reviews important to booking, and 53% of consumers won’t book a hotel without reviews. If your website doesn’t provide travel shoppers with the social proof they need, they will leave your site to find it, lowering the chance you secure a direct booking.

The number 1 B&B in Shelbourne Vermont is the Heart of the Village Inn. Travel shoppers who visit their website know this immediately as it’s clearly displayed on their homepage along with their 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. These forms of social proof are supplemented by their reviews page, where consumers can view TripAdvisor reviews as well as their TrustYou score that aggregates reviews from all across the internet. The inclusion of social proof keeps travel shoppers on their website and increases the likelihood of direct bookings.

The Heart of the Village Inn’s review page features guest reviews from TripAdvisor and TrustYou.

L’Hotel Kleber Makes It Easy To Book

81% of people abandon online travel bookings, costing the industry up to $1.8 trillion annually. It is clear that booking abandonment is a huge issue. To reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment you need to simplify the checkout process. Have a clear call to action, allowing customers to book with minimal clicks, and explain why you need any information you’re collecting. Assure customers that the booking process is secure and that they’re getting the best deal. And finally add a sense of urgency to ensure they book now.

L’Hotel Kleber in Paris ensures that travel shoppers can easily complete a direct booking. Their check rates button is located in the top right of every page, and remains visible even when a visitor scrolls down the page. The top right positioning of their call to action has been proven by eye tracking studies, as the optimal position for a visually driven website. L’Hotel Kleber also does a fantastic job at putting customers’ minds at ease by including the information “5 reasons to book directly” and “book direct to save up to 50%.” Travel shoppers are more likely to book direct if they know they’re getting the best deal.

L’Hotel Kleber’s booking page simplifies the booking process and assures travel shoppers they’re getting the best deal.

The Glasbern Inn’s Adaptive vs. The Blue Bay Inn’s Responsive Mobile Website

Mobile isn’t going anywhere, it is predicted that by the end of 2016, 52% of online travel bookings in the US will be made on mobile devices. If you don’t have a mobile optimized website, you are missing out on direct bookings. Your mobile site should allow consumers to easily complete the booking process and provide important information like click-to-call functionality and location with map functionality.

Glasbern Inn’s adaptive website.
The Blue Bay Inn’s responsive website.

You can see from the image above that both the Glasbern Inn’s adaptive website (left) and the Blue Bay Inn’s responsive website (right) both have the same main features. A call-to-action to book now is highly visible at the bottom of both websites, and click-to-call functionality can be seen by the phone icon at the top of both websites.

So which type of mobile website is better? Ultimately it comes down to your preference and what you’re trying to accomplish with your mobile website. An adaptive design allows you to custom tailor your message to appeal to consumers who are more likely to book on a mobile device. However a responsive design can save you time and effort by optimizing a single website for various devices.

Follow the lead of these hotels and you will be on your way to increasing your direct bookings, freeing up more time to focus on all the other challenges of running a hotel.

The Next Steps

According to BLLA, hoteliers at boutique hotels spend more than half their time on sales and marketing activities. That’s a LOT of effort, but are you seeing results? For more best practices on driving direct bookings, watch our on demand webinar, 5 Best Practice Tips for Increasing Direct Bookings.

About the Author Leonardo

Leonardo is a technology company serving the global hospitality industry. We provide e-marketers at hotel brands, management companies, hotel properties and travel websites with technology solutions that improve the way they present their hotels online to travel shoppers.