Hotel Website Features: 14 Must Haves in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry is a dense and competitive market where your hotel will have to stand up to some pretty stiff competition. In today’s digital world, it has become essential to not only embrace online tools, but utilize them to their full potential. As the digital face of your brand, your hotel website can act as an ally or foe, making or breaking your bottom line. Ensuring that your website is taking advantage of essential elements is one step to help your hotel maximise its online presence.

A hotel website serves as the first point of contact for potential guests, providing them with information about the hotel, its amenities, and booking options. To create an effective hotel website that attracts and engages visitors, there are certain essential elements that must be included.

From a compelling titles to a seamless user experience, informative content, and engaging features, these elements will help hotels enhance their online presence and drive more direct bookings. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of…

14 must-have hotel website features

1. Responsive Design

Long gone are the days when hotels could get away with a website that wasn’t mobile-friendly. Research shows that consumers are increasingly using multiple devices to research, plan, and book their travels. But what does it mean to have “responsive” design?

Responsive design is an approach to web design that renders the site into the best format based on the screen size or device being used.

Are you viewing this blog post on your phone? You’ll notice that the website’s navigation is condensed and hidden behind a simple menu folder up at the top. You also don’t have to pinch and zoom in on the text, because the font size has adjusted to fit the screen.

How about on desktop? To see what I mean, use your cursor to hover over the left edge of the screen. You’ll see an arrow symbol (←→) appear. Click and drag the browser to the right and you’ll see that the page content automatically adjusts to fit the new screen size. Neat, eh? This is responsive design.

2. Clear and Concise Call to Action

Driving traffic to your hotel website might be a challenge, but converting visitors into guests can sometimes feel impossible. Whether your goal is to earn a booking or generate a lead, make sure your calls to action are clear to the user.

  • Use large buttons that stand out and can be easily clicked on mobile.
  • Use contrasting colours so that CTAs are easily noticeable.
  • Reduce the number of required form fields to simplify submission for a user.
  • Use strong command verbs and invoke a sense of urgency where necessary.
  • Test your CTAs on all device types.

3. High Quality Images and Videos

To entice potential guests and provide them with an immersive visual experience of the hotel, website design for hotels should include high-resolution images and videos of the hotel’s rooms, amenities, dining options, and surrounding areas. These images and videos should be strategically placed throughout the website, highlighting the best features of the hotel and creating a compelling visual narrative.

According to LinkedIn, 60% of UK consumers find images and videos the most influential factor in their travel decision-making.

Hotel photography is often a major investment, but I’d argue it’s one of your most important marketing assets. Your photography won’t just be living on your hotel website, it’s a necessary part of your sales collateral and social media strategy, too.

Whether you’re opening a new hotel or just finished a renovation, it doesn’t hurt to revisit your images. Here’s a quick hotel photography shot list to reference:

  • Front Exterior – aim for the most attractive angle(s), and get a mix of daytime, sunset/dusk, and night
  • Hotel Lobby – with and without front desk colleagues
  • Rooms – shoot every room category, if possible. Get a “hero” shot showing the full space, as well as details like the view, work area, and bedside. Don’t forget the bathrooms!
  • Meetings – aim to showcase the flexibility of your meeting rooms by setting up different configurations
  • Weddings & Events – if weddings and social events are part of your business strategy, you need a selection of supporting images. In this category, styled shots work best. You may want to hire models and dedicate time/budget for a separate photoshoot.
  • Dining – at minimum, aim for a few wide “hero” shots of your F&B outlets and some attractive shots of your standard menu offerings. You may want to also get an appealing photo of your in-room dining offering.
  • Spa – if you have a spa, grab some “hero” shots and some detail photos of specific offerings like the massage area, beauty treatments, or sauna.
  • Pool – resort amenities like a pool or beach access are particularly great to shoot from above with a drone!
  • Other Amenities – this list could go on! The important thing is to capture what makes your property unique and attractive to potential guests.

With hotel photography, more variety is better. Guests want to be able to picture themselves at your property! Make sure your budget covers “hero” shots at minimum, but try to get more lifestyle images and detail shots if possible.

4. Speed

Speaking of high quality… How often have you landed on a website that took ages to load? Modern attention spans are short. Don’t make them wait!

The best hotel websites load in 2-3 seconds. To help speed things up, try to limit the number of plugins and redirects. If you have videos on your site, host them somewhere else, like on YouTube or Vimeo.

Make sure that the images you upload are compressed to optimal sizes. Here are a few quick rules of thumb:

  • Save photos as JPG files and graphics/logos as PNG
  • Photos should be 72dpi or 92dpi resolution for web (print typically requires about 300dpi)
  • Large images should be no more than 1 MB
  • Full-screen, background images should be around 2000 pixels wide

While not the sexiest subject, page load speed is important to consider. Slow websites stop customers from booking direct. It can also hurt you in search since Google penalises slow-loading sites in their search result rankings.

You can check your hotel website’s page speed using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.

5. Detailed Room and Amenities Information

To help potential guests make informed decisions and choose the right accommodation option, it’s important to provide detailed information about the hotel’s rooms, amenities, and facilities on the website.

This information should be comprehensive and include room types, descriptions, rates, and amenities offered, as well as any additional details that may be relevant to guests, such as accessibility features or pet policies.

According to Deloitte, 45% of UK travellers consider detailed room information as the most important feature on a hotel website.

Utilising digital marketing for hotels, such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid search advertising, can help in targeting potential guests who are searching for specific room types or amenities.

6. Local Information – Consider Adding a Blog

Blogging can be a very powerful content marketing strategy for hotels. Having a blog on your hotel website gives you more space to create valuable content that attracts your ideal guests. Blogging is also great for SEO.

I like to suggest that hotels use a blog to create a go-to resource for their destination. Help guests discover all the great things to do in your area, where to eat/drink, how to travel there with kids, etc. That way anyone searching for ideas in the local area, you’re website (and hotel) is likely to pop up!

Blogging can also be used for B2B purposes. Why not guide potential meeting planners on the latest trends?

7. Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Initiatives

Hotels that prioritise sustainability and eco-friendly practices should highlight these initiatives on their website. This can include information about energy-saving measures, waste reduction, green certifications, and community engagement.

By highlighting these initiatives in the hotel website design, hotels can differentiate themselves from competitors and attract guests who value sustainability. According to a survey by Booking.com, 68% of UK travellers prefer to stay in eco-friendly accommodations.

8. Social Responsibility and Community Engagement

Hotels that actively engage in social responsibility initiatives, such as supporting local charities, protecting the environment, or contributing to the community, should showcase these efforts on their website. This can include information about their sustainability practices, community partnerships, and charitable donations.

Highlighting social responsibility initiatives can attract socially conscious guests and differentiate the hotel from competitors. According to a survey by Cone Communications, 89% of UK consumers are likely to switch to a brand that is associated with a cause they care about.

9. Social Proof

An important way hotels can make their websites more trustworthy is through social proof. Social proof, in technical terms, is “a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behaviour in a given situation.”

In plain English, social proof means people trust something when others vouch for it.

96% of customers surveyed by TrustYou consider reviews important when researching a hotel. This is why testimonials from real hotel guests are incredibly impactful. The best hotel websites show real reviews from trusted third-party sources like TripAdvisor and Google.

Social proof can also include social media. Consider adding a feed of user-generated content (UGC) sourced from social platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

10. Consistent Branding

One of the reasons OTAs are so popular with consumers is that they enjoy a certain degree of trust.

Online hotel booking websites like Booking.com and Expedia have built that trust by giving people what they want: an easy way to find and book the best hotels. (As annoying as that is for us hoteliers, you know it’s true!)

For a hotel to compete, they need to have a brand that resonates with customers.

From a visual standpoint, hotel branding tells consumers that your website is legitimate and can be trusted. Don’t forget! Branding covers everything from our logo and colour palette to your images, presentation and even your website address itself.

Would you trust your credit card info on a site called myawesomehotel27.freewebsitebuilder.com? Yikes, nope!

Hotel branding is also a useful exercise in uncovering what attracts your customer personas…

Say your price point and amenities are most appealing to luxury-minded global executives. You may want to keep your branding sleek and minimalist, using luxury hotel copywriting to craft a more elevated tone of voice.

If you want to attract a younger, more adventurous traveller, try incorporating bold punches of colour, quirky design elements, and playful, more conversational copy. Your aim is to create a consistent brand that keeps what the customer wants in mind.

11. Direct Booking Engine

Friendly reminder: The purpose of a hotel website is to generate direct bookings!

One of the most important hotel website features is a secure, PCI-compliant, integrated booking engine that syncs up with your hotel’s property management system (PMS).

While a user explores your website, that “Book Now” button should remain visible.

Contrary to popular lore, there’s no “magic” colour to use for your call-to-action buttons. All that matters is that it stands out, so pick something that complements your brand colour scheme.

You also want to choose an online booking system that plays nicely with the rest of your website. Look for a hotel booking engine with a seamless, responsive design.

The point is to keep visitors ON your website, not clicking your “Book Now” button and being taken onto a new web page to book. (Your friends in revenue management will thank you!)

12. Secure Online Payment Options

An apt hotel website design should ensure that it offers secure payment options for bookings, including SSL encryption and compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). This can help prevent unauthorised access, fraud, and other security risks. Hotels should also use secure payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree to process payments.

According to a study by Statista, 74% of UK consumers are concerned about the security of their personal information when booking hotels online.

13. Analytics and Pixels

Let’s not forget about the nuts and bolts. There are a few basic things every hotel website needs to have on the back-end. Analytics and tracking pixels make it possible to access powerful insights and better ad targeting.

Both are easier to set up than you might think.

If you’re working with a web designer, they should know exactly what to do. If not, here are two step-by-step tutorials to follow:

Google Analytics is free and a great place to start tracking your hotel website’s most important metrics. To set it up, all you need to do is create an account and copy/paste a short line of code into your website’s Header.

Adding a Facebook pixel follows similar steps. With a Facebook pixel on your hotel website, you’re able to build more powerful ad campaigns. You can target users based on the actions they’ve taken on your site, like viewing certain pages, submitting an RFP, or abandoning a booking.

14. Built in SEO

Whether you’re using a website builder like Squarespace or have a fully-developed and custom design, some components of search engine optimisation need to be built-in.

Most hotel SEO hinges on your actual content, but some things also happen “behind the scenes.” Make sure your content management system (CMS) has fields for you to input at least the following:

  • Page URL or “Slug” (specifically, the bit after your domain name. As in, yourhotelwebsite.com/your-page-url)
  • Page Title (the name of the page, as it appears in Google search results)
  • Meta Description (a short description of the page that appears only on the Google search results page)

If your hotel website is built on WordPress, one of the most popular SEO plug-ins is Yoast. Yoast doesn’t do the work for you, though. Yoast just gives you the necessary fields (and little guidance) by prompting you to tick off all the steps involved with optimising a page.

It’s kind of like having an SEO checklist built right into your website’s back-end.

If you want SEO done for you then the best way is to hire an SEO specialist such as Rokir.

Need some help getting started?

If you’re in need of an upgrade then get in touch! Our team are happy to support with all things digital from website optimisation audits all the way to new custom website builds. Get in touch now to find out how we can help!

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