How to Create an Effective Hotel Web Design to Boost Direct Bookings

By Katarina Puckett Vice President of Marketing, Travel Tech Strategies | June 12, 2016

In today’s highly competitive hospitality market, hotel owners need to make use of every possible resource that can give them a marketing advantage. A hotel website certainly falls into that category –correctly formatted, it can be the most effective marketing resource that hotel owners have at their disposal.

Hotel marketing strategies have evolved in recent years, moving from offline promotion methods such as print ads and television spots to focus primarily on online marketing methods. This has served to increase the importance of effective hotel website design, as a hotel’s website serves as the heart and foundation of its online marketing strategies.

Hotel owners are no longer just competing against each other for bookings. They now face stiff competition from the large OTAs (online travel agencies) such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc. These massive aggregators are wielding their marketing might to give them the advantage in the bookings war – and their efforts are paying off.

OTAs now capture a large percentage of the bookings that used to go directly to hotels. Google’s landmark Travelers’ Road to Decision report revealed that on average, one in three leisure travelers and one in two business travelers book their travel reservations through an OTA.

This puts hotel owners in a delicate position, as the OTAs may generate some reservations that the hotel would not have otherwise have booked. Also, by not listing their hotel on the OTA site, some owners feel they are essentially sending a whole pool of potential guests to book a stay with their competitors.

However, since these online travel agencies typically charge hotels anywhere from 12% to 18% or even more for every reservation, having OTAs intercept hotel bookings is a serious threat that can severely damage a hotel’s bottom line. After weighing the options, most hotel owners make the decision to work with OTAs.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.