What makes for a good hotel website? Well according to a recent survey, travellers place a high value on imagery, reviews and uncomplicated booking forms.

But are Asian hotels meeting these requirements?

To find out I’ve carried out a quick user test on some of APAC’s best-known hotels and resorts, focusing on the quality of their imagery and booking procedures.

Read on to find out whether these brands are providing a decent user experience, or more on this topic check out my post looking at the UX on budget airline sites in Asia-Pacific...

Mandarin Oriental

Imagery

Mandarin Oriental provides a gallery for each of its hotel locations around Asia-Pacific. These include a huge range of images that give a view of the hotel, spa, conference centre and rooms.

However there is actually only one image of each different type of room or suite. So when making a booking you don’t get a great view of what you’re actually paying for. 

This can perhaps be excused for the smallest rooms, but I’d still expect to see the bedroom from a couple of angles at least, and a shot of the bathroom.

Even the presidential suite, which costs S$5,500 per night, only has one photo despite the fact that it has two bedrooms, a kitchen, several bathrooms and a dining room.

Pricing and forms

Prices are displayed without taxes and fees, so users have to proactively click the ‘Price breakdown’ link in order to find the total cost.

Though it’s understandable that Oriental would want to include a full breakdown of its prices with taxes shown separately, it should be upfront about the additional taxes as it’s not an insignificant amount.

The hotelier also makes several attempts to upsell additional products and services, such as champagne and chocolates, breakfast and dinner, or spa packages.

Form filling is limited to the visitor’s name, contact information, address and payment details, all of which is input on a single page.

Shangri-La

Imagery

Each of Shangri-La’s different hotels offers a gallery that offers a range of photos and videos. These give an excellent overview of the rooms and facilities.

However there is only one image for each different type of accommodation, so users get a poor view of where they’ll be staying.

Pricing and forms

Though the room prices are initially shown without fees and taxes, Shangri-La shows the total cost (including taxes) on the booking form.

It then merely asks for your name, contact details and payment information before booking is complete.

Overall it’s a very simple process and one that includes very few barriers to purchase.

Banyan Tree

Imagery

There is plenty of high quality imagery on Banyan Tree’s responsive site, though I still feel it could go further.

There are four images of each room category, which is more than others in this article, but while the photos manage to portray a premium brand image they don’t actually give a clear view of the facilities.

The same is true of the rest of the site. The imagery looks fantastic, there’s just not enough of it.

Pricing and forms

Banyan Tree displays prices inclusive of local taxes, and gives an average for the duration of your stay as it’s more expensive to stay on the weekend than on week nights.

To complete a booking visitors must input their name, address, contact information and payment details. It’s a quick and simple process.

Aman Resorts

Imagery

Aman operates luxury resorts around the world, with several in APAC nations.

Its old school website doesn’t live up to its premium billing, but the images included in the photo album are quite incredible.

Sadly these don’t extend to the rooms themselves as there’s only a single image for each category.

At the booking stage several of the images failed to load, so users have no idea what they get in return for spending more than $1,000 per night.

Pricing and forms

Aman Resorts displays its prices without taxes, so a room that’s advertised at $3,649.02 for a three-night stay ends up costing $4,254.75.

The booking form is a simple design that again fails to live up to the brand’s luxury image and sky-high prices.

On the plus side, it only asks for basic contact and payment details.

Dusit

Imagery

Dusit has a responsive website for each of its hotel locations, which include impressive galleries of the facilities and rooms.

There are two images for each room category, which still isn’t really enough, particularly when the suites have separate living and dining rooms. 

Dusit should also double-check the copywriting in its room descriptions...

Pricing and forms

As with several of the other hotels, prices are displayed exclusive of taxes so it’s up to customers to click on the ‘price breakdown’ text link to find out the total amount.

Even at the final booking form taxes are not included in the price, which is very bad practice.

Dusit also tries to upsell items before you get to the booking form. Weirdly, these prices are displayed with taxes included.

As we’ve seen with other hotels, the booking form requires very few details.

In conclusion...

Without exception these hotels do a poor job of providing sufficient images of their rooms and suites.

Most include just a single photo, even for suites that have several bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room.

Banyan Tree gives four images per room category, but the artistic nature of the photos means users don’t get a clear view of the facilities.

However all of these hotel brands included a great range of photos showing the exterior of the hotels and the facilities, which can also help to convert potential customers.

Form filling was kept to a minimum across the board, though I’d say that Shangri-La probably offered the best overall UX as it was upfront about costs, asked for only the most basic contact information, and didn’t try to upsell spa packages.

David Moth

Published 23 September, 2014 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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