Imagine creating a product so well-known, so pervasive in the market, and so closely identified with a particular solution, that your product name becomes synonymous with the product itself. ‘Kleenex’ is a well-known example, as is ‘Jacuzzi’, ‘Aspirin’, ‘Band-Aid’ and even ‘dumpster.’ These all began as trade-marked names for products before becoming synonymous with the product category itself.
The same thing has happened in web design. It wasn’t long ago that every website you visited seemed to be trying to outdo the last, using the latest graphic wizardry to get your attention.
Fortunately, most web designers have realized that all this “fluff” might look good, but doesn’t help move visitors along the conversion path – in fact, it hinders the process.
As more advanced designs have developed, built around the user experience instead of the latest technical flash, they have resulted in layouts now considered most effective for certain purposes or industries.
Take, for example, search engines. If you search for something on Google and then do the exact same on another search engine, like Bing or Yahoo, you’ll see very little difference with any of the page layouts, even though they all compete fiercely for search traffic.
So, as ‘Kleenex’ has become synonymous with facial tissues, Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) layout has become the standard used by all other search engines.
The same phenomenon can be seen on OTA sites. Hotel listings on Expedia have a similar layout on Hotel.com, Trivago, Booking.com, Kayak, and many others.
The Problem with One Design for All OTAs
The advantage of having a standard design across all OTA sites is that travel shoppers know what to expect. They can efficiently navigate each site with ease.
The major drawback for hotels, however, is the limited options they have for setting their property apart.
Every hotel listing uses the same format, design, color scheme, etc. That leaves very little to work with to catch the travel shopper’s eye.
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration conducted an eye-tracking study to obtain a deeper understanding of what drives hotel selection behavior online. They identified five main things travel shoppers look at for each hotel listing, both on OTA sites and Brand.com:
- Property name
- Room rate
Why the Images You Choose Are So Important
During the initial browsing phase, hotel shoppers fixate on the property name and price. However, as they move further along the travel shopping journey, and begin ‘short-listing’ hotels, their visual behavior changes substantially and the image becomes the most viewed feature.
This is a noteworthy finding because your images are the only feature you can really control for your OTA listing.
You can’t change the name of your hotel, the ratings guests give you, room rates are often difficult to alter, and your location isn’t going to change either (unless you’re a floating hotel!).
That leaves the images you include on OTA sites as the single most important way to convey your unique story and become part of a traveler’s consideration set.
What Hotel Images Travel Shoppers Want to See
We analyzed over 500 million pieces of media on third-party travel websites to understand what kind of images travel shoppers want to see. Our analysis revealed that 86% of travel shoppers view more than 10 images when they view a hotel’s media gallery on these sites. And the top three most popular images are:
- Guest rooms
- Hotel restaurant
- Recreational activities
Now, take a look at your hotel’s listing on OTA sites. Does it include images travel shoppers want to see? (Hint: an exterior shot is not one of them).
Tell a Better Story on OTA Sites
Images are key to engaging travel shoppers and an important part of your online hotel marketing strategy. Start by looking at your most profitable OTA channels and how your hotel listing appears on them. Are you displaying just 1 thumbnail image? Or could you add more images to your listing that tell a better story?
With Vizlly’s Multi-Channel solution, you can create digital brochures that contain photos, videos, virtual tours and descriptive text, and distribute them to the world’s largest network of third-party travel websites.
Use the scroll bar above to compare a standard OTA listing vs. a listing that uses Vizlly’s digital brochures
Vizlly’s digital brochures ensure you tell a consistent story across all online booking channels. And when travel shoppers view your listing on these sites, they can launch your digital brochure and scroll through more media to help inform their purchase decision.
To learn more about Vizlly’s Multi-Channel solution, speak with one of our Vizlly Specialists today.