Though 72% of people would book directly with hotel sites if the price is right, the user experience on offer is variable.
A new report from Triptease looks at user preferences when booking hotels online, and contains some useful tips.
Here’s a selection from the report, and some I’ve added…
Make it simple
Booking a hotel room shouldn’t be complex, and doesn’t require any more details than the average ecommerce purchase.
The Triptease report found that 94% of people have abandoned a booking online recently because of the website they’re using, and Novotel provides an example of how to overcomplicate the process.
For instance, having selected a hotel and room, there are a further four steps to make the booking.
It crams in so many extras that calls to action are relegated to the foot of the page.
It’s confusing for users, and makes the process much harder than it needs to be.
Megaro provides a much better example. From hotel and room selection, there are only two steps to take to complete the booking.
Forms are easy to complete, and there’s no unnecessary upselling to distract from the process.
It’s obvious really. People want to see images that help them decide on a hotel.
Images should help to tell people about the hotel, and the rooms especially. You can convey a lot more in a picture than paragraphs of text.
Indeed, 70% of survey respondents said they rely on images to learn about a hotel, but so few do this well.
Small low-res images like this just don’t do it.
Instead, images should be used as a sales driver. For example, these images from Liostasi’s homepage have me convinced before I’ve even looked into the details.
Here’s the rooms:
Of course, it’s easier to create beautiful imagery when your hotel is on a Greek island rather then next to Macclesfield railway station, but pictures can still convey useful information about rooms and facilities.
Show lots of dates
Often, hotel bookers don’t necessarily have a fixed date in mind, so show available rooms around the same time.
71% of people agreed that being shown prices on dates either side of the ones they’ve selected is useful to them.
Here, the Rosewood hotel shows available dates on a calendar as you search.
This is a great way to show the information, and it allows users to instantly see what’s available and make any changes without having to start over again.
People are going to check hotel reviews on TripAdvisor anyway, so why not provide them on-site to keep them there?
They work well, and people are even prepared to spend more on sites with better reviews, yet so few hotels show them.
Here’s one example from Best Western, with an average TripAdvisor rating and links to see more reviews.
Some of the best uses of reviews come from aggregator sites like Hotels.com, which displays them prominently throughout the site uses them as part of the search options.
Make it work on mobile
As with everything else, mobile is becoming increasingly important for hotel research and booking. Indeed, stats show that 65% of same day hotel reservations are made on mobile devices.
Researching hotels should be easy, and the booking process simplified. Here, Marriott’s homepage is a mess on mobile, with part of the search box obscured and the app ad taking up part of the screen.
Hilton provides a better example with an excellent mobile site, complete with a handy click-to-call button on the homepage.