Last week we covered the first five secrets of luxury hotel websites … Here’s Part 2 and the final five tips for luxury hotels and resorts:
6) Luxury Hotel Websites Synthesize Design and E-Commerce
Clearly, luxury hotels need to be vigilant about their online presentation and perception, but the savviest upscale properties understand that e-commerce tactics and visually arresting design CAN coexist beautifully … and profitably.
A few elements to keep in mind:
• There is nothing inelegant about a clear and consistent call to action. A “Check Availability” button in a prominent location at all times can be designed in an understated manner and regardless of your booking engine partner, the front end booking widget experience can be custom designed in a refined manner rather than using the standard default widget.
• Templates and do-it-yourself content management systems can hinder your ability to extend your brand tone into the e-commerce realm. Make sure your website developer has the ability to implement all aspects of your branding including colors, patterns, textures, fonts and photographic and copywriting tone.
• Mapping the location of the hotel and its surrounding attractions are critical to e-commerce conversions. However, you don’t have to use canned/default map features and colors. Google Maps can be customized to display only the information relevant to your brand, as well as its brand colors and tones.
• The mantra of luxury branding is: “Less is more.” A more understated, “clean” layout not only harkens backs to luxury print design and branding campaigns of the past, but it also leads to faster page load speeds and better SEO results. Google is now indexing mobile site structures first. This means, fewer mobile pages and more succinct and efficient websites.
• With increases in Internet speeds and pervasive wifi, video (the ultimate branding and storytelling medium) has become a powerful inspirational tool for luxury hotel websites. A good inspirational video extends user engagement and increases entrances into the booking engine.
7) Luxury Hotel Websites Welcome Global Visitors
Just within the past decade, the U.S. hotel industry has seen a significant uplift in wealthy international travelers. This growth in global guests and the ease of digital marketing across borders has given luxury hotels massive opportunities to expand into new markets and succeed internationally.
However, when it comes to your hotel going global, it doesn’t make sense to stick with a one-size-fits-all hotel web design or booking engine. Every culture has its own assumptions, ideals and values. What works in one country may flop in another. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
• Get a Real Translation
If international visitors go to your hotel’s website and just see English, it sends a message that their business isn’t important or that you don’t care to make their online experience an inviting one. And don’t make the lazy mistake of Google translating all of your website copy, then calling it a day. Reaching international travelers will take much more than a lazy word-for-word replacement. It requires taking into account the nuances, the cliché phrases and the style of language of your specific target.
• Currency and Payment Options
Once you have overseas visitors hooked with a successfully localized hotel website, don’t lose them to an all-American, all-English booking engine that displays room rates only in U.S. dollars. The same principle goes for guest room and suite measurements. Most of the world uses the metric system, so don’t describe rooms with feet and inches.
• Dates and Times
Avoid confusion by displaying the times and dates in the preferred local format. This also guarantees a seamless user experience for international guests who are accustomed to different formats than what your American guests are acquainted with. Surprisingly, the format of MM/DD/YY is unique to the U.S. (and oftentimes used in Canada too, adding to the confusion). While Japan uses YY/MM/DD and most of Europe uses DD/MM/YY.
• Enable Language Toggle
We can’t always assume a guest’s native language based on where they live. So, it makes sense to enable guests to specify and easily toggle the language that suits them best.
8) Luxury Hotel Websites Convey a Luxury Service Culture
Wealthy travelers expect VIP treatment and the highest caliber of hospitality from start to finish. Not only do luxury hotel brands invest heavily in service training and empowering their staff, they showcase that dedication to service and genuine hospitality directly on their website itself. Ritz Carlton's staff lives by their Gold Standard credo to “fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”
This commitment must extend to the first touch many potential guests have with your hotel, through the phone and chat agents made available via your website. These operators must understand the details of your luxury service experience and be able to convey it via chat and phone.
9) Luxury Hotel Websites Enable Personalization
Shoppers who visit luxury stores expect and appreciate a personalized experience. Luxury hotel e-commerce is no different. Smart hoteliers in the upscale and luxury categories have built-in personalization features in their e-commerce experiences, including:
• Detection of the website user’s search engine query or location and instant presentation of dynamic content (or offers) that match the user’s interest (ex: “adjoining rooms on the beach”).
• Smarter presentation of room categories that enables guests to select rooms based on their personal preferences (ex: “quiet, away from elevators, low-floor or ocean-view).
• Digital tracking of loyal past guests (and their past booking behavior) and instant dynamic presentation of offers, content and images that match their profile (ex: past guests can instantly be recognized and offered a “loyal guest” discount which creates kinship and reduces potential abandonment to OTAs).
10) Luxury Hotel Websites Respect Users’ TimeHigh-end guests often have more money than time … So they seek amenities and services that reduce friction and allow them to get what they want quickly. Smart luxury properties feature these capabilities right on their website, such as mobile check-in, 24/7 service butlers, on-site activities and rentals, service requests by SMS, children programs, or airport transfers. Further, high-end customers want to know they can reach a real person at any time. So, luxury properties lower the barriers to staff by making it simple to chat, call or email directly from their property's website and by promising quick response times (some even offer a convenient “call-back service”). The idea is to make their affluent customers feel like a part of an exclusive community and to give them multiple direct lines of communication to your staff.