There are always way to help increase bookings online but the first step is often missed!

For any hotel or travel brand, increasing online bookings and providing the user with an engaging experience that encourages them to book direct is a key goal. Sounds easy doesn’t it but we know that there are always barriers and other aggregators that swallow up the commission. How do you fight for attention and make a booking seamless for your visitors through great hotel website design and UX.

A common mistake is not improving the booking process at the source. Brands can spend a lot of money at trying to get people to the front door which happens to be either closed or a bit tricky to open. This can frustrate users and turn them away to book elsewhere.

Below you will meet a couple of hotel brands that faced the user experience head on and if you fancy some advice on your own site, get a free website audit!

Brend Hotels is an award winning, family run business that has been a leader in West Country hospitality for over 50 years. The group has built up a collection of fantastic hotels and restaurants across Devon and Cornwall that now features 11 luxury hotels and 18 restaurants.

Yotel is a unique blend of air-side and city break accommodation for first-class travellers. Every hotel is cleverly designed and hugely innovative through technology. You can find a Yotel in New York, Boston, Amsterdam, Paris and London with many more opening.

Making life easy for the booker

For Yotel, there was a desire to improve the online booking process due to new business requirements and changes in the way customers could access rates and book online. The user experience was crucial to make sure that the numbers that came to the booking form were same coming out.

Yotel’s challenges were:

  • Make sure the booking process was intuitive
  • Provide information and options on rates
  • Up sale other ancillary products

Design for the user and for the business requirements

Brend Hotels wanted to create a fleet of personalised sites for each or their 11 hotels. Each hotel was built of a single platform and was carefully designed to be visually exciting and easy to navigate. The site also had to work with their current property management system (PMS) which was failing to drive bookings.

Brend Hotels challenges were:

  • Drive direct bookings
  • Provide an engaging user experience
  • Personalise each hotel
  • Work with their PMS to create a better booking process

User insight

Observe how users are interacting with the current booking process through analytical tools. There are tools out there that allow you to view page heat maps and even video recorded sessions. Highlight patterns and similarities in the information you view and this will ultimately show you area that could be made more efficient and user friendly.

Research the market

Assemble a wall of research collecting user data, personas and screen shots from competitor booking processed. This will ensure that you have all the information and insight. You can then further understand common and best practises for booking features on the web. Every hotel is different so understanding what you need is important.

Plan & architecture

Planned the architecture of your booking process. Think about the process of which a user enters and exits the whole journey. At this point technical guidance and information from your Property Management System needs to be considered. The architecture will provide you a guide to creating the interface and illustrated how data is received and presented at a given stage.

Concept & prototype

Start by drawing out ideas of how each stage of the booking process looks. This is a great way of exploring lots of options. From your ideas create a high fidelity prototype. This means visually create a booking process that’s fully interactive without writing a line of code. The prototype allows you to explore the concepts as if it was really there.

User testing

Validation of the prototype is important. You want to be able to make sure that your audience can use our prototype and highlight any issues in the design. Test every option and refine the booking process from user feedback. It is important that your recruit users that are relevant to your audience.

Hotel website design

The website can then be fully designed knowing that it’s user friendly and that all the options have been explored. Research backs up the design and has shaped the direction. The design must be fully responsive and incorporate a visual and tonal direction that reflects the hotel and audience.