This week, we found a very beneficial article ‘Hotels We Love: 7 Hotels using our best practice tips to drive direct bookings’ on the Leonardo blog that would enlighten any hotelier and help them reap the benefits.

There are numerous challenges associated with running a hotel that every hotelier can relate to. According to a recent survey by BLLA, hoteliers at boutique hotels spend 58% of their time on sales and marketing activities.

After all of that effort spent on marketing, are you seeing results in the form of direct bookings? Based on Leonardo’s research, the answer is no for most hoteliers. The poll revealed 60% of hoteliers finding it hard to drive direct website conversions.

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

Hotel X gives travel shoppers what they want

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

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

The first best practice is to showcase guest rooms and amenities that set you apart, like your restaurant, pool or even spa. By doing this you lead with content and images guests most want to see.

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 after an all-around experience filled with leisure and entertainment options. Their Experience X web-page uses visuals to showcase many of their entertainment options available to guests, such as 2 movie theatres, a 3 storey rooftop SkyBar and a 90,000 sq. ft. athletic facility. The website visitor can click on any one of the entertainment options for more details to find something that interests them.

Visual storytelling separates Big4 Sunshine & Harmony Spa

Make your website visually rich. 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 travel shoppers. To tell your hotel’s story, use pictures, videos, snaps or tweets and short bursts of information.

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

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

Leonardo blog writes: ‘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 Harmony Spa showcases a relaxing weekend for adults.

The Harmony Spa showcases a relaxing weekend for adults.

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

The Heart of the Village Inn Leverages Social Proof

The way today’s travel shoppers know they’re booking with the right hotel is through using social proof. There is an increased reliance on guest reviews and other forms of social proof. The article states that 89% of global travellers consider online reviews important to booking, and 53% of consumers won’t book a hotel without reviews. Therefore, if your website doesn’t provide the consumers with the social proof they need, they will leave your website to find it, lowering your chances of securing a direct booking.

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

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

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. Social proof are found also on their reviews page, where consumers can view TripAdvisor reviews as well as their TrustYou score that aggregates reviews from all across the internet. Such inclusion of social proof keeps the travel shoppers on their website and increases the chance of direct bookings.

L’Hotel Kleber makes it easy to book

It costs the industry $1.8 trillion annually due to 81% of people abandoning online travel bookings. To reduce cart abandonment, simplify the checkout process. The article advises: ‘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’s booking page simplifies the booking process and assures travel shoppers 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.

L’Hotel Kleber in Paris makes clever use of the check rates button located on the top right of every page, which remains visible even when scrolling 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 has also done a fantastic job of putting the travel shopper’s mind at ease by including the information “5 reasons to book directly” and “book direct to save up to 50%”. The travel consumer is more likely to book direct if they know they’re getting the best deal.

The Glasbern Inn’s adaptive vs The Blue Bay Inn’s responsive mobile website

Mobile websites are here to stay. It is estimated that by the end of 2016, 52% of online travel bookings in the US will be made on mobile devices. You are missing out on direct bookings if you don’t have a mobile optimised website. Your mobile site should allow travel shoppers to easily complete the booking process and provide important information such as click-to-call functionality and location with map functionality.

 Glasbern Inn’s adaptive website (left) and the Blue Bay Inn’s responsive website (right).

Glasbern Inn’s adaptive website (left) and the Blue Bay Inn’s responsive website (right).

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

So which type of mobile website is better? The article advises that it all comes down to preference. An adaptive design allows you to custom tailor your message to appeal to travel shoppers who are more likely to book on a mobile device, while a responsive design can save you time and effort by optimising a single website for various devices.

If you follow the above best practice tips these hotels use, you will be on your way to successful direct bookings, freeing up more time to focus on all other challenges of running a hotel.

To read the source article, click here.

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