Today, the internet offers more travel information than ever before. But it also makes the research, planning and purchase steps of the guest journey more complex. Travelers became more accustomed to responsive web pages, memorable content and moving images. That's why they will also expect it from your hotel's website.

For hotels that want to capture more direct bookers, a responsive, visually stimulating and fast-loading webpage is crucial. Sites with content that takes too long to process might find it hard to win over the direct bookers in 2019.

As a Customer Success Coordinator at Triptease, I often consult our clients on the latest website trends. Here are the top four must-haves for a better website experience that drives more direct bookings.

1. Make your website responsive

The number of smartphone users is expected to grow from 3 billion in 2018 to 3.8 billion in 2021. Last year, the internet was accessed on smartphones more than 58% of the time, and 51% of page views were generated from mobile devices (Phocuswire). Nearly 28% of bookings came from mobile devices (HEBS Digital client portfolio data).

As more people rely on their smartphones to book their trips, build a seamless mobile experience for your website guests. A booking process that is not mobile-friendly can turn away your potential guests. 85% of adults consume content on multiple devices at the same time, so make sure that your hotel website adapts to all screen sizes to maximize the likelihood of capturing a direct booker!

2. Review your content

Gone are the days of static images showing empty rooms. The imagery where the customer interacts with the product (in this case, a stay at your hotel) increases engagement. For a hotel website, it would be most impactful to use the images of people having a good time at their trip, interacting with other people, having a relaxing moment, or dining on delicious food.

To drive more direct bookings, try to offer more engaging website experiences than on OTA websites. For example, 360 tours of your property can increase the time that the traveller spends on your website.

Keep in mind that the imagery you choose should be harmonious with your hotel brand. Ideally, every aspect of your visual content - from location to objects and even to people - should match your hotel’s identity, destination and the website'a colour scheme. Don't forget about the style of our campaigns and messages. You can customise colors and images on your pop-ups with Triptease's Message Manager to keep your offers on-brand.

In today's fast-moving world, visitors spend on an average around 15 seconds on a web page before they leave. The written content on your web page should be short and informative to keep the visitor interested. 20% of users will read the text, whilst 80% will watch the video with the same content. Make sure you tell your story with visuals and keep the text short and impactful.

3. Provide social proof

It is embedded in human nature to follow the crowd. That's why we as humans want to be reassured that we make the right decisions.

A staggering 91% of visitors rely on traveler reviews before committing to an online purchase. To impact their decision, try displaying positive guest reviews where you want them to book - on your hotel's webpage.

Today's travelers often rely on social media platforms to provide them with travel inspiration and reviews. Investigate your audience and establish your hotel brand's presence on their popular social sharing channels. Publish your own videos and photographs, share information about the upcoming events and offers, and encourage the social media users to leave reviews and go to your website!

Make the most out of the user-generated content (UGC). Hamilton Island, for example, have tripled their ROI with their UGC strategy. "At times, as marketers, we are guilty of undervaluing UGC compared to professional brand photography," says Aida Merdovic, Director of Online at Hamilton Island, in the interview with Triptease. "Arguably, given the right lighting and situation, an amateur Instagram user can capture a more impactful and meaningful shot than a professional photographer. I believe that some moments simply are unable to be staged - and authentic, UGC moments often have strong resonance with followers."

4. Embrace your location

Your guests are likely to want to know about what is going on around in the hotel's neighborhood. Providing relevant information about your hotel's location can persuade the website visitor to book their stay at your hotel. At Triptease, we developed location notifications that highlight your hotel’s place on the map and local experiences around it.

Keep in mind that travelers look for different kinds of experiences. Distinguish between independent, social and habitual travellers to present them with personalized offers on your website.

Implement all these steps to keep ahead of your competitors, increase traffic and drive more direct bookings on your hotel's website. And if you are a client in need of a consultation on the latest website trends, our Direct Booking Coaches are can always advise you on how to improve your website guest experience!