UX Best Practices for Hotel Booking Processes in 2019
The hotel industry has a significant online presence given that it’s turning into a critical sales channel. However, all hotels same nearly the same chances of getting travelers to book on their websites, meaning that the competition is cutthroat. The only way to stand out is through differentiation and service. In this sense, using technology in favor of the user experience (UX) will play a critical role in the industry, especially for hotels, as we explain in our upcoming report on the future and trends in the tourism industry.
Therefore, the question is: how do we take advantage of technology and make sure the user that logs onto our website turns into a future guest at our hotel? For starters, we have to understand how the search process works today. We believe it’s important to highlight three aspects:
- On the one hand, vacations have become fundamental for our usually busy way of life.
- On another, and separate from everyone’s socioeconomic status, we don’t like feeling like we’re wasting money so we go on the Internet to look up information and compare and contrast possible destinations where we can get the most out of those few vacation days we have.
- Lastly, due to the vast amount of information we have in our grasp, we hate the idea of wasting time finding the best deal for our dream destination.
You should adapt the user experience within our web environment considering these three keys. You'll be able to grab their attention, and with a little bit of luck, you'll turn your hotel into the place where they'll spend their next vacation. Pay attention to these four tips for improving the user experience and booking process.
UX Best Practices for the Hotel Industry
1. The importance of mobile devices
While the computer still attributes the most earnings to the hotel industry, mobile devices have increased their share over the past two years and continue to grow. Users will continue to use them to look up and book hotel rooms more frequently.
That's why you should make sure your website has an optimal performance by optimizing images and resources to ensure it loads quickly. You’ll also want to make sure the content is legible because the legibility of your website content can have a direct impact on the amount of time a user who spends on your site.
It’s also shown that travelers use multiple apps in the search and booking processes and use them again during their trip to look up information about interesting sites or restaurants; this is an exciting opportunity for you to attract users by offering related, quality, accessible content.
It’s also worth thinking about offering content available without an internet connection such as contact information or the hotel’s location, making life easier for those travelers without data. You can do this efficiently using technologies like progressive web apps (PWAs), among others.
2. The first impact is the one that counts
The information we show visitors in the first pixels is of vital importance because it's in those first few seconds where the user determines whether they've found what they're looking for or need to go to another site, and you'll inevitably lose them forever.
That means you have to show the call-to-action (CTA) at the top of the page to increase the percentage of clicks (click-through-rate or CTR) and facilitate conversion. For mobile devices, it’s recommended that this CTA follows the user while they scroll down the page.
Another good idea is to show in that first snapshot the unique selling points that set us apart from the competition: payment in the hotel, free cancellation, a 24-hour pre-reservation period, the best price guaranteed, etc. As long as it provides value, it matters less what we highlight, as long as users can see it. What we do with this tactic is to boost the user's interest and trust, inviting them to browse on our website.
3. We have to work on trust
Today, travelers are used to comparing the information they receive, and a good way of highlighting and achieving that they spend more time visiting our website is increasing their trust.
For example, users would like to know if they see the best price or if the amount on offer is close to it. If one of our unique selling points is offering this guarantee, it’s a good idea to explain it in detail in a section dedicated to it. The same goes for the rest of the value propositions.
On the other hand, the opinion widgets or comments from prior hotel guests are powerful components on sections like results pages because they provide a touch of reality and transparency and can help reaffirm the purchasing decision.
Guaranteeing security during the booking process is no less critical. Make sure the data being offered to the platform is always secure or show secure platform seals like VeriSign, verified by Visa, etc. on the site because they will assure our visitors, increasing conversions.
4. The ABC’s of the booking process
Lastly, we don't have to put aside trending practices such as accelerators close to the CTA that are easy to implement and are going to empower and encourage users to move onto the next step.
Another mandatory habit is to show quality, real-life content about every single one of the hotels in the search result, such as professional image galleries (always taking the optimization of loading times into account) or exciting information like the distance from the ocean or the airport.
Those websites with several hotels can add a comparison tool that allows the user to see the different amenities and services offered in each one in a single view.
Also, if we offer the ability to save a reservation before payment during a specific time frame, we can retain those indecisive users through a subsequent email who would otherwise definitely escape our site.
The takeaways from all this are as follows:
Many mechanisms can help, with greater or lesser impact, to increase the number of bookings at a hotel. But the truth is no magic formula guarantees a spectacular improvement in your conversion rate because what works for some may not work for others. So, how can you find out if these suggestions are right for your website? The answer is simple: test, measure, and iterate.
There’s a maxim in the tech world, “move fast and break things” that has a special meaning in usability or UX. It's that the only way to confirm whatever hypothesis we could devise is to make a change and measure the results. I invite you to put it into practice with the techniques we've seen. An excellent method for doing so is A/B testing, but that's for another day.