With digital travel sales expected to hit more than $200 billion this year, your hotel’s website needs to stand out from the competition. And for those of you who may be thinking, “But most people book hotels through online travel agencies (OTAs) like booking.com and the like,” think again. According to SiteMinder’s Global Hotel Business Index, 57% of major hoteliers surveyed say that their website will account for the most direct bookings in 2018.
As with everything, websites change and adapt to the current trends and culture. This year, hospitality websites have been experiencing trends that coincide with consumer culture and expectations. To illustrate, there’s been a push towards beautiful aesthetics and outstanding imagery, new and tailored experiences, and the increased usage of technology.
Here’s a look at a few of the salient website trends:
1. A Picture is Worth…
….Probably more than 1,000 words. When browsing for a booking, 49% of consumers recall an image. Many hotels are focusing on lifestyle imagery and brand-driven, saturated photos. Showcasing these images across the homepage as a main hero image is a common trend, and it invites users in to get a feel for the environment before committing to the booking.
Plus, with the proliferation of social media and the extent to which people will go to capture the best shots that are “instagrammable,” your hotel’s imagery means more than ever. It could quite literally be considered the prime reason someone chooses to stay with you as opposed to a competitor. A hotels.com survey found that 70% of respondents said that seeing images of the hotel, its interior, and amenities was key in their decision-making process.
New York’s well-known The Bowery Hotel illustrates this point with a hero slider of multiple, full-width and hi-res images that give the traveler a quick look inside to showcase what they can expect. Their website immediately invites the viewer into the common area’s interiors, inside a room, and even shows a view of New York’s skyline, making for an immersive and welcoming experience through captivating imagery.
2. Breaking the Grid
Websites are often produced in standard grids, where designers use imaginary lines to place elements in desirable layouts. Grids allow for the overall system to function properly across various screen sizes, and also directs the user and guides navigation. While there are standard grids that websites generally fit into, hospitality sites are getting creative in 2018 and breaking the mold.
If done right, straying from the norm can direct the eye to focus on a stand-out element, whether it be an image or text. San Francisco’s boutique hotel, Stanford Court, provides a good example for how an unconventional grid can make for an aesthetically pleasing and well-directed site.
3. Time to Animate
In case you missed it before, we wrote all about the good uses (and some bad ones) of animation. Hotels are in on it, too, as they are including non-distracting animation to their websites to liven up the page. Many hotels are incorporating this animation across their hero images, or using video to draw the viewer in without feeling jarring or distracting from the page’s content.
For example, the Ace Hotel’s hero banner consists of small polaroids of their locations. When you go to click on one to enter that hotel’s booking site, the intended card slides out of the deck. This subtle movement makes clicking a fun experience and actually entices the user to scroll over the various locations.
4. Font It Up
Serif fonts are back in business. With recent fads of minimalism and flat design, things are now shifting back to a more historic and distinguished feel as big bold fonts and serif letters take over the screen. The use of typography can tell a story and add an element of charm to provide viewers with a sense of how their stay will feel.
Croatia’s luxury hotel Adriatic Luxury Hotel’s website is a prime example of how serif fonts, striking imagery, and animation come together to create an immersive and unforgettable user experience.
5. Augmented Reality Gains Traction
Although somewhat separate from your website, mobile apps and omnichannel technology are becoming pervasive within the hospitality industry. With the rising tide of millennials who travel, as well as smartphone usage, hotels are jumping on beacon technology to create seamless guest experiences. Beacons are augmented reality technologies, placed in physical locations or on objects, that use low frequency bluetooth to communicate with tablets and mobile phones. This means that when guests are physically in the property, hotels can automatically interact with them using beacons to send targeted and timely messages to their phones or as push notifications through proprietary apps.
An example of this comes from Starwood Hotel & Resort’s Marriott International. Guests at The James Hotels can download the James Pocket Assistant app, which serves as an e-concierge, sharing digital offers, allowing guests to contact for services, and even providing for a self-guided tour. Preferred members can even access a virtual room key to unlock their door with their phone to make for an optimized check-in experience; say goodbye to losing those all too forgettable key cards!
Your Reservation is Complete
Since your website is your digital DNA and the face of your business, it may very well be the first experience someone has with your brand.
And, for hotels, experience is everything.
For these very reasons, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the trends and provide a seamless booking experience from the very start, replete with stunning visuals, easy-to-use navigation, intentional animation, and design elements that showcase your hotel’s personality and aura.
Ready to take your website to the next level? Feel free to give us a ring for some digital “room service.” We’d be happy to help spruce things up!