To say that the last few years have been challenging for the hospitality industry is pretty much akin to saying that Jaws was just a fish with a weight problem. Now, however, the industry is entering its much-anticipated recovery phase and hoteliers are looking for innovative ways to thrive in our new post-pandemic normal.
However, no matter how luxurious your amenities, how appealing your location, and how incomparable your service is, if your hotel doesn’t have a premier web presence, you are likely to miss out on a grand opportunity to see your conversion rates skyrocket. The key to building a stellar digital platform, though, is about more than the kinds of sites and pages you have or how often you update them.
What truly differentiates a standard website or social media page from an extraordinary one that guests can’t resist is the quality of the user experience (UX) your digital platforms provide.
The Impact of UX on Site Traffic and Conversions
Let’s face it: the ultimate goal of a commercial website or social media page is to build your brand and grow your business. Your mission is to convert prospects into paying guests by promoting your hotel, informing prospective guests of local attractions and hotel amenities, and opening communications channels to quickly address their queries, respond to their comments, and finalize their bookings.
However, if your platforms aren’t designed to provide an optimal user experience (UX), you’re not going to get your target audience to hang around on your site long enough to pique their interest, let alone win their business.
For this reason, one of the first and most important things hoteliers and managers can do to enhance their platforms’ UX is to pursue advanced training in UX design.
UX courses and certification programs will equip you and your team with the information you need to ensure a stellar online experience for your target audience. Such courses will also arm you with the resources and skills to turn a promising design strategy into a digital platform that gets results.
Guest Personas and Mind-Mapping
When you’re looking to build platforms with UX-focused design in mind, you must endeavor to place yourself in the position of your target audience. Creating diverse customer personas can help you define what exactly it is that your ideal guests will want, need, and expect not only from your hotel but also from your hotel’s website and social media pages. After all, your digital platforms are often your first encounter with prospective guests. You need to make it both pleasant and memorable if you want to ensure that the relationship will continue and evolve from initial interest to conversion to loyal, returning customers.
One effective way to implement customer personas in your design planning process is through the use of mind maps. Mind maps can provide a highly beneficial visual aid as you and your team consider how your imagined customer will respond and what they will do once they reach our landing page.
This creative ideation of all likely and potential visitor reactions will enable you to create site design solutions for every potential need, from inserting easy-to-use Book Now buttons for eager prospects to responsive chatbots for the more cautious and deliberative consumer.
Boosting Returns on Investment (ROI)
Despite the advantages of optimizing UX design, the endeavor may feel overwhelming. After all, you likely entered the hospitality industry because you want to engage with people, not technology. The reality, however, is that the investment of your time, effort and resources can yield generous returns.
Research has shown, for instance, that the standard conversion rates for traditional hotel websites that have not been enhanced through methods such as UX design are very low, hovering at around 2%. However, when hoteliers optimize their digital platforms to increase conversion, including the use of techniques geared toward UX, they may expect conversion rates of between 25% and 75%. What this means is potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue increases, depending on the size and price points of the hotel.
UX Design Trends for Hotels
If you are looking to enhance your platform’s UX design, you would be wise to look to current and evolving digital trends to determine what your target audience expects from your platform. Given the fact that online consumers are exposed to thousands of pieces of digital marketing content daily, keeping up with and, indeed, staying at the forefront of emerging trends is essential for ensuring your sites stand out and generate clicks.
For example, integrating virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) into your platform can be an ideal way to provide site visitors with an extraordinary UX while capitalizing on the increasingly popular “digital experience” trend. With these tools, site visitors can take virtual tours of your hotel, site location, and local amenities, which can significantly increase your conversion rates because, the better able your prospects are to envision themselves at your hotel, the more likely they are to book a room!
The hotel industry is emerging into a critical recovery period and this means that conversions are perhaps more important than ever before. Now more than ever, however, the power to win business and earn guest loyalty lies less in the physical site and more on the world wide web. Prioritizing user experience (UX) in your digital platforms is key to ensuring your hotel not only survives but thrives in our post-pandemic world.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the hospitality industry, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Over to you
The hotel industry is always changing, especially during a time of crisis. Make sure to future-proof your business and continue attracting new guests by investing in these solutions.
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Related article: 10 Ways To Improve The UX On Your Hospitality Website
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About Are Morch
Are Morch is a digital transformation coach helping hotels open their digital gateways, reimagine their processes and culture, and transform experiences in a fast-paced world while earning more direct bookings without competing with the OTA!