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You’re Losing Prospective Hotel Guests Because Your Website Design Is Wrong

You’re Losing Prospective Hotel Guests Because Your Website Design Is Wrong

Tom O'Rourke
Tom O'Rourke December 5, 2022
You’re Losing Prospective Hotel Guests Because Your Website Design Is Wrong

Hotel owners have simply come to accept that the vast majority of their potential customers will leave their website without making a reservation. Why is that?

Your hotel’s website is by far your most lucrative sales and booking resource. But when 80 percent of your visitors don’t even book a room, it’s clearly not living up to its potential. 

It’s not acceptable any longer. And it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The answer: bring the Guest Experience design methodology, or GX for short, to your hotel website. 

Let’s look at why most hotel websites aren’t providing guests with the right experience, how we got to where we are, what guest experience design means, and how it will fundamentally change the way your hotel does business.

Your Hotel Website Wasn’t Even Built for Booking Guests

When 80 percent of your guests don’t bother to book a room after visiting, you have a problem. 

So what is the problem exactly? 

Your website isn’t doing its main job: prospect qualification. 

What is prospect qualification? Anyone who is interested in making a reservation needs to know three things:

  1. Is this the room I want?
  2. Is the room within my price range?
  3. Is the room available when I need it?

That’s it. That’s prospect qualification.

It seems pretty straight forward. However, the way your website works now, your prospective guests don’t get answers to any of those questions until they click away from your site and enter the booking engine. It’s like forcing them to the checkout counter before they even know what they’re buying, whether it’s in stock, or if they can afford it. 

No wonder 80 percent of them leave! 

Let’s say you were in a shopping mall looking for a tennis racket and walked into Tennis Rackets R Us. But there are no rackets on the shelves, so you go to the cash register and say you’d like a particular tennis racket. The clerk says, “I don’t know if we have that one. I’ll go look in the back. If it’s available, the price is $1,000.”

That’s what hotel websites do to every potential customer. They see a room they like, but they have to go to the booking engine, only to see that the room is not available or is beyond their budget. So they leave.

Guest Experience design gives your prospects the answers they need to make a purchasing decision directly on your hotel’s website. They only click away to the booking engine to complete their transaction.

So How Did Hotel Website Design Wind Up Here in the First Place?

When you think about the guest’s experience in this way, it seems so obvious why they wouldn’t complete a booking transaction. But if it’s so obvious, why is it the norm?

If you go back to when hotels began going online, their approach was primarily pragmatic as opposed to strategic. 

Here’s how we expect it went for you and thousands of other hotel owners:

  1. You purchased the simplest website CMS/solution you could
  2. You purchased the best booking engine you could

But because you made two independent decisions, you’ve ensured that the two most important technologies you depend on to win guests don’t work together as well as they could or should. 

Your website doesn’t know what your booking engine knows, and your booking engine doesn’t know what your website knows. For example, if a guest clicks “book now” on a “Deluxe King” room, the booking engine sends them back to square one. Or, they actually find the room they want, but the website can’t tell them how much it costs or if it’s available. 

If you can give your prospects all the information they need right on your website, they are far more likely to make their reservation right there and then.

What Is Guest Experience Design and Why Is It So Important?

Giving your prospects the right Guest Experience (GX) is the solution to your reservation abandonment problem. 

But it’s also important to say what GX is not. It’s not user experience design, or UX, which is about making a user’s entire experience relevant, engaging and meaningful. Nor is it UI, or user interface design, which is about making something clear and easily understood. 

It’s also not a complete website redesign. You don’t have to start over. You just have to rethink what your guests are experiencing. See what we did there?

The main thrust of GX design is very specific to hospitality: make it easy for your prospects to become guests.

GX does this by executing on these three key principles:

1. Attention 

Make the full range of necessary detail available at first scan. Shoppers turn to guests when you  give them all the information they need as quickly as possible. Your competitors are just one tab away.

That scannable information is about more than just showing a wide-angle shot of the room. Include all of the most salient details: the square footage, amenities, whether it has wheelchair access, etc.

2. Qualification

Give them the three key pieces of information every prospect needs:

  • experience (rooms, amenities, etc.)
  • price
  • availability

If they know immediately whether each of those criteria is met, they will make their decision right on your site. When they’re ready to finalize their reservation, they’re whisked straight to the booking engine to complete their transaction. 

3. Action

Focus your entire website on a single, primary action: Informed Booking. That means giving visitors all of the information they need, wherever they are on your site. The more informed they are, the more likely they are to book a room on the spot.

It’s Long Past Time to Put Booking Abandonment Problems to Bed

This is so simple, how come we never thought about doing this before? That is what makes GX so likely to have a dramatic impact on your bookings. It’s the simplicity.

A hotel website that incorporates GX design should expect to see the reservation abandonment rate cut in half. So instead of seeing 80 percent of your prospects come and go without booking, it would fall to around 40 percent. If you want to learn more about how GX can help your hotel finally overcome its longstanding abandonment issues, let’s talk.