Your hotel’s online presence is more important than ever—and this doesn’t just mean having a website. It also includes your eCommerce setup.
Your website is often the first touchpoint that any interested guest would view to learn more about your hotel. Regardless of what, when or who your online visitors are, you must ensure that your website is constantly performing at its best and consider your ultimate goal: to turn online browsers into active customers. By improving your eCommerce presence, you can move closer to this goal.
What is eCommerce?
It may seem futile to mention the definition of eCommerce; after all, it’s a term that is thrown around so often. ECommerce is defined as “The use of the Internet to buy and sell goods and services.” Many hotels have the option of making direct bookings that are booked and paid for on their site, which makes them an eCommerce platform. However, many hotels don’t consider their websites and booking engines as eCommerce sites.
7 eCommerce Tips for Hotels to Increase Conversion
Below you find 7 ways how your hotel can improve its eCommerce presence and increase conversion, resulting in higher revenue.
1. Use High-Quality Images and Copy
This goes without saying. You need to have fantastic images and great writing on your hotel’s eCommerce site.
In the current digital age, a lot of the content that is being consumed is through some form of visual platform. Whether a potential guest sees your images directly on your website’s gallery or on your social media platform (Instagram, Pinterest etc.), they need to be of high quality.
Don’t confuse this with high-resolution, as this will make them hard to load and cause a longer loading time, resulting in many online users leaving your site as they will be too impatient to wait.
Your website needs to load fast, even with high-quality images. Ensure that your images are up to date and accurately represent your hotel. If something has changed in your rooms in terms of layout or decor, you have to depict this in the most current images on your website.
Another tool to take advantage of is your copy. This is everything that is written on your hotel’s eCommerce site. It’s the best place to set yourself apart from your competition as you will be able to write in your hotel’s tone of voice. Be sure to use words that correctly reflect your brand image, inclusive, and have no grammatical errors.
2. Design for Accessibility
Another thing you have to think about when it comes to your website is its accessibility. There are 7.53 billion people globally, and 4.48 billion of them use the internet. That means that 58% of the population has access to the internet. There are 1 billion people, around 22% of all online users, who have disabilities.
It’s essential to make your website accessible to all online visitors. You can make your website more accessible, including adding alt-text to your images, ensuring your website has an updated design that screenreaders can easily use, and you can also use tools, like accessiBe to make your website accessible and compliant with specific regulations.
Another thing to ask yourself is if online visitors can access your website through different means. Is your website mobile and tablet friendly? Your hotel’s eCommerce site must be available across all kinds of technologies, as you never know how someone is viewing your website or through which device.
3. Make Your Website Easy to Use
The easier it is for your online visitors to find the correct information they need, the more likely they will be to either email you with an enquiry or even make a direct booking through your hotel website.
Make sure that you don’t clutter your website! You need to ensure that your website is as user friendly as possible. Try not to include images or information that aren’t unnecessary. A good tip is to start with your home landing page. This is the first impression an online user will have of your website. Ensuring that your website is simple, will truly pave the way to booking via an easily understandable and navigable website and online booking process.
A good idea is to start by asking yourself these types of questions:
- Are all website sections relevant and needed?
- Are your hotel’s strong points highlighted? (i.e. a phenomenal Spa offering you have)
- Is the information accurate and honest?
- Are the used images to date?
- Are all the links to your socials working?
If you answered no to any of these points, don’t worry, all you need to do is sit with your tech team and make some updates and changes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing to step in and tweak some things. That’s a sign of strength in any hotel or business, for that matter. Being able to analyze oneself, see room for improvement and then take the time to implement necessary changes will lead to a successful eCommerce site.
4. Answer FAQs
Online visitors are more likely to book with you if they know more about your hotel and its offering. Ensure that you are doing all you can to support potential guests in making their purchasing decision.
Guests have a lot of hotels to choose from. The competition within the hotel sector can seem stiff, and it’s hard to set yourself apart without it costing your hotel an arm and a leg. Making your hotel’s eCommerce presence more unique is by telling guests precisely what they can expect from you.
Go into as much detail as you can. Go further than just the amenities. Outline the unique characteristics of your offering. Perhaps the room where the guests dine has a special history or contains art from a specific period and was painted by an old local artist. Talk about that! Make the idea of them eating breakfast in your dining room an experience that they cannot miss.
Maybe some of the rooms have a spectacular sea view that you can boast about. Go one step further than simply calling it ‘The Sea Room Suite’ and leaving it. Include information that guests have left about the room, saying that it was easy to work from there as the cool breeze that trickled in through the French verandah doors and that the quiet made it easy for them to sleep well.
Essentially, it would help if you answered their questions before they have even thought of asking them. Hotel guests can be demanding, and they want to know all there is to know before making a booking. That is a fair request on their part, so be sure to cater to it properly. Ask your reception team to help you make a list of all FAQs and add it as a section to your website so that guests can peruse these and feel a sense of calm and trust before booking with you.
5. Incorporate Social Proof
A nifty way to get more out of your eCommerce site is by building it in a way that includes honest and objective feedback on your hotel from past guests. Yes, it’s about the all-important client reviews.
Guests trust fellow guests. If they can read that someone has stayed with you and had a wonderful time, they will trust that more than if you as a hotel assure them of this. A healthy level of scepticism has developed amongst travellers, and it’s fair for them to want to read honest reviews from someone like them, who has stayed with your hotel before.
Include testimonials on your home page or add a separate section where you can list all the previous guests’ experiences. This will help you in your eCommerce endeavours as guests will be more likely to book with a transparent and honest hotel.
6. Offer Secure Payments
It cannot be denied how important it is for your guests to have safe payment methods at their disposal. The great thing about today’s technology is that almost every eCommerce platform automatically offers you payment options, including Visa, AMEX, PayPal MasterCard, and the list.
Make sure you’re working with a booking engine provider who offers a range of safe payment options to service.
7. Have Clear CTA’s
A CTA or call-to-action is critical when focussing on conversion. For hotels, a CTA often comes in a clickable button on your website that gives your online visitor the incentive to ‘Book now’ on your website.
For eCommerce hotels, it’s important not to overuse the CTA function. Use it carefully and well. Be sure to not include it all over your website as it comes across as very ‘salesy’ and, therefore, can be off-putting. The most beneficial way of incorporating it is having it appear once or twice on each of your landing pages.
You could add a ‘Book Now’ below one of the rooms in the area where you write about your rooms and give detailed descriptions. Or, if you have lovely offers on your Spa experiences for a Mother’s Day weekend, you could add a ‘Contact Now’ to lead your online visitor directly to your email address. Try to include a call to action on the most prominent spot on each of your landing pages to drive the desire to get in touch with your hotel’s eCommerce site as much as possible.
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It is crucial to grasp just how vital the eCommerce world is and how it is the way of the future. Online sales are at a record high and only gaining momentum. Jump on board and start looking at your own hotel’s eCommerce presence and see if you can begin incorporating some changes to benefit your eCommerce standing.