The impact of hotel websites

Hotel websites play one of the most important roles in the success of accommodation businesses. Your hotel website is simply invaluable in this day and age because it’s so crucial to getting more online direct reservations. In fact, recent reports reveal that over a third of US travellers now prefer to book hotels directly through their website, compared to a quarter of those who prefer to book through an online travel agency (OTA).

Travel agencies are slowly losing their share of digital travel sales in the US. They are even expected to count for less than 30% of total digital travel sales. Your hotel website will allow you to tap into the global travel market who will spend an estimated $1 trillion USD on digital travel sales within the next decade.

This blog will give you a full guide to hotel websites, including what it takes to have a great one.

Why is having the best hotel website important?

A hotel website serves as the primary point of contact for potential customers, making it crucial for hotels to create a visually appealing and user-friendly website. But it’s more than just a digital business card or a brochure; it’s a powerful marketing tool and a platform for direct sales.

  1. Branding. A website provides an opportunity to showcase your property, highlight unique features, and convey your hotel’s personality and values. High-quality photos, engaging descriptions, and a cohesive design that aligns with your brand can create a strong impression and attract more guests.
  2. Guest experience. Easy navigation, clear information, and a seamless booking process can make it easy for potential guests to find what they need, make a reservation, and even check-in online. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also boosts your conversion rates.
  3. Direct bookings. Your hotel website is the only platform where you can sell rooms without paying commission to third-party booking platforms. By driving direct bookings, you can increase your profit margins and have more control over the guest experience.
  4. Visibility. A hotel website is a hub for your online marketing efforts. It’s where you can showcase customer reviews, offer special deals, share blog posts, and connect with your social media platforms. By driving traffic to your website, you can increase your online visibility, build relationships with guests, and ultimately, drive more bookings.

Best hotel website examples

But when it comes to the look of your hotel website, where do you start? When it comes to finding inspiration for creating or revamping a hotel website it can be helpful to look to your industry peers for inspiration. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the five best hotel websites that we absolutely love. 

These websites have not only nailed their architecture but also provide an exceptional user experience, making it easy for guests to navigate and book their stay. Let’s take a closer look at three hotel websites to see what makes them stand out.

1. Hostal El Puerto Boutique

Hostal El Puerto Boutique is a charming boutique hotel with 20 years of history and four room types for guests to choose from. It’s located a short distance from the popular Playa de Regla beach in Chipiona, Spain.

Elements that make Hostal El Puerto Boutique a top website:

  • Landing on the homepage gives a guest access to everything they need without having to scroll or search
  • There are multiple CTA buttons making it easy for guests to book
  • The menu is clear and simple
Image showing an example of a hotel website homepage
Top hotel website example #1

2. Westmoreland Luxury Villa

Westmoreland Luxury Villa is an amazing little property with sea views located in Barbados. With a beach club, car rental packages, and golf packages available guests will have a great time taking time out to relax and unwind.

Elements that make Westmoreland Luxury Villa a top website:

  • It uses a beautiful light colour scheme and has stunning images
  • The homepage shows a description, contact details, and booking options – everything in easy reach of a potential guest
  • It utilises its menu to include special offers to further entice guests to make a booking
Image showing a pleasant website homepage of a luxury villa
Top hotel website example #2

3. Camp View Motor Court

Camp View Motor Court overlooks the picturesque Niantic River in Connecticut, USA. Also located close to multiple state parks, the cosy cottages offer guests the perfect place to rest between adventures.

Elements that make Camp View Motor Court a top website:

  • A minimalist design that enables users to easily navigate the site and absorb information
  • Detailed but clear information on the various room types guests can book
  • A wonderful gallery showcasing the property is all its glory
Image showing the website gallery of a cottage accommodations property
Top hotel website example #3

Hotel websites best practices

Whether we’re talking about boutique hotel websites or the luxury hotel websites run by multinational chains, there are a handful of rules and best practices that apply to the creation of all good hotel websites. These include the following six characteristics:

  • Quality: Your hotel website is your digital lobby, and you need to ensure that you give your visitors a great first impression. This means investing in high quality imagery from a professional photographer, and compelling web copy from a talented writer.
  • Simplicity: Avoid needlessly overcomplicating your site. A small, independent hotel may only need a handful of web pages – Homepage, Rooms, Book, About, Contact – that should be effortless to navigate. Choose simple layouts, legible fonts and colours that are easy on the eye.
  • Visual hierarchy: The concept of visual hierarchy prioritises the elements of your web page that you’d like your visitor’s eyes to gravitate to, such as the ‘BOOK NOW’ button. Establish your hierarchy, the design and position each element according to it.
  • Consistency: There needs to be consistency across your site’s web pages. The aesthetic, layout, content and copy should flow organically from one to the next, making it easier for visitors to navigate and become familiar with.
  • Responsiveness: As of April 2023, mobile devices accounted for almost 60% of global online traffic. This number is likely higher amongst hotel website traffic, as many stays are browsed and booked on the go. Top hotel websites are mobile-optimised and are built for high performance.
  • Credibility: If you don’t give your website visitors all the information they need, they’ll assume you have something to hide. Be upfront and honest with your audience. Show your pricing, be clear on your policies, and offer up photos that offer a clear and honest picture of what guests can expect while putting your property in the best possible light.

What makes hotel websites successful?

At a base level, what separates good hotel websites from bad hotel websites is their ability to generate business. Top hotel websites are effective at getting noticed by the right type of guests, drawing those guests in, and ultimately getting them to make a booking – ideally more than once.

What does such a website look like? Well, a few key features of amazing hotel websites include:

  • Clear navigation: Potential guests should never be confused when visiting your site. Everything – the menu, web pages, buttons – must be clearly labelled and laid out in an intuitive way. The average searcher should be able to navigate your website with ease, finding exactly what they need in a matter of moments. Large buttons, short forms and a seamless booking process are essential.
  • Compelling content: The text and imagery on your website should compel visitors to take action. The necessary investment should be made to ensure your site is of the highest quality.
  • Mobile optimisation: An ever-increasing number of travellers are booking their next stay while they’re on the go. Your website needs to be mobile optimised if you are to capture this huge market. Since 21% of travellers in the U.S. make bookings on a mobile device, you need to make sure that you have a mobile-friendly booking engine.
  • Direct booking functionality: The ability to take direct bookings allows you to charge less, earn more, and secure guests on the spot, rather than having them navigate away to an OTA and risk a different hotel catching their eye.
  • Testimonials: As consumers become more marketing-savvy, businesses are no longer trusted to talk about themselves. People do trust other people though, so the best hotel/travel websites always feature glowing testimonials.
  • Performance: Top hotel websites are fast – not just for the sanity of visitors, but because Google pushes high-performance websites further up the search results page.

Hotel Websites: Mobile vs Desktop

Accommodation providers across the globe have been told to make mobile a top priority, as travellers are increasingly relying on their mobile devices to conduct research and finalise their bookings. However, recent research for American accommodation providers proves that desktops are not obsolete yet.

After analysing 15 billion visits to major US travel, airline, and hotel websites, Adobe found that about 52% of travellers used a mobile device to find information about hotels, restaurants, tours and activities in their chosen destination, but only 21% book on a mobile device. This means that the majority of travellers to the US are still booking on their desktop computers.

So how can you tailor to both experiences? By keeping it simple. Here are the steps you can take to create a simplified experience on your hotel website, regardless of the type of device that is being used at the time.

1. Focus on personalising your hotel website for specific visitors

The same study found that about 30% of Millennials and 34% of Gen X feel that personalisation is important.

So while you may be using new technology to simplify procedures and processes at your small property, you won’t want to forget about the customised experience that your guests expect when they stay with you.

Greeting them by name, adding personal touches to their room and reaching out via email and text message can help you improve guest satisfaction ratings at your property.

2. Use Google Analytics for insights on your hotel website

Your Google Analytics account can be a powerful source of information that you can re-use:

  • Try to analyse mobile versus desktop traffic for your hotel website. This will help you determine whether you need to focus exclusively on mobile optimisation, or if you should still balance your priorities between the two types of technology.
  • Identify any trends that may be taking place on your hotel website. For example, if you find that your bounce rate increases when people are using a mobile device, then make an extra effort to optimise your site for mobile use. Investing in a responsive website can help improve your mobile traffic and decrease your bounce rate.
  • Focus on key pages within your hotel website, such as the booking engine page. If you notice that most people are accessing your booking engine page on a mobile device, but they aren’t completing their reservations, then you may want to consider implementing a new booking engine that makes it as easy as possible to book on a mobile device.

3 types of visitors on hotel websites

Every visit on hotel websites is a potential staying guest. How can you make sure your website meets their needs and gets them to book with you at your hotel?

It’s simple. Make sure you have all the necessary elements in place that make staying with you an attractive and convenient experience.

To do this, you must consider the state of mind each visitor is in when they are on your website:

1. Just Browsing

This person has decided they need accommodation in your area, and have opened your site after doing a lot of online research.

At this point your site is one of many tabs that have been opened for further research. You are being compared to your direct competitors. How do you stand out?

These browsers may just be having a look at what’s out there, so they’re not ready to book anything in just yet.

Your rooms and facilities have to lure them in. To get them hooked, use high resolution photos and provide detailed information about each room, anticipating the questions they’re going to ask before they even ask them.

Links they look for:

  • “Find out more”
  • “Frequently asked questions”

2. Interested

This person has narrowed you down to the top few choices of accommodation they’re considering.

They have certain concerns and requirements, and are desperately in need of information that reduces friction, making them feel comfortable enough to book their stay.

Any awards, ratings and testimonials should be prominently displayed on your home page, and if they have any special concerns, it should be easy for them to find out how they can contact you.

Links they look for:

  • “Contact us”
  • “Terms and conditions”

3. Keen

Congratulations – your offer has worked and this person is ready to become a guest at your small hotel! Now it’s about making sure that the path to booking is as quick and easy as possible.

Ideally you should allow them to book instantly using your hotel reservation system. This is much more convenient and attractive to a potential guest than having to send an enquiry and wait for a response.

Make sure you remind them that reservations are secure and their data is safe with you, and detail what will happen next (ie. ‘you will receive a confirmation email at the address provided’).

Links they look for:

  • “Make a reservation”
  • “Check availability”

Only by catering to the needs of every possible visitor to your site will you be able to put your best foot forward when it comes to converting lookers into bookers.

Having a safe and secure hotel website

Nothing is more important to online travel bookers than website security. Their personal and payment details must be kept safe, and if they’re shopping on your hotel website they need to know they can trust it.

Creating a safe hotel website experience should be a priority; can you imagine the consequences of a traveller having their belongings stolen while staying at your property? The same principle applies when they’re on your website.

This could be the result for many businesses if Google’s latest announcement is any indication. They set a deadline for websites to be HTTPS secure on their Google Chrome browser. Over 50% of Internet browsers worldwide are on Chrome, this change will affect a huge amount of businesses, and have a significant impact on traffic volume.

What is HTTPS in websites?

Most websites use SSL encryption to protect data that’s transmitted between a website and a shopper.

The SSL encryption requires a secure form of communication between a website and the consumer, known as HTTPS – where the ‘s’ stands for secure.

This is indicated to the user in the URL which displays ‘https’ and it also shows the padlock symbol on the left-hand side of the URL bar which reassures people their data is secure when entering private details.

What does it mean for hotel websites?

Basically, Google will be favouring websites that are HTTPS secure. If your site isn’t secure by the deadline, Google may warn users it isn’t safe and could even restrict access to your web pages.

84% of users say they would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection, with many concerned about their data being stolen.

So, if your hotel wants to convert direct bookings and maintain a high ranking on Google’s search results, it’s vital you become HTTPS secure. When shoppers see the little padlock on their browser, it gives them peace of mind and an immediate sense of trust in your business.

How can hotel websites become HTTPS-secure?

One of the easiest ways to ensure your hotel website is secure is to invest in a professional website builder tool. This solution will automatically come with secure encryption and will also help you maintain a functional and charming hotel website.

The beauty of using a customisable website builder is that you’ll have your brand new website within days and it will automatically keep pace with Google’s updates as time goes by.

Top trends for hotel websites

A well-crafted website not only attracts potential guests but also provides them with an exceptional user experience – but what does this experience look like on new hotel websites that are pushing the boundaries of design?

Different hotel websites have found different ways to set themselves apart in recent years. Here are the top four trends among cool hotel websites:

  • Dynamic scrolling: Dynamic scrolling sees text, imagery and other elements of a web page move and morph as the visitor scrolls, creating a more immersive experience. This feature has been around for a few years, but it has only recently been adopted by a few innovative hotels.
  • Negative space: You say it best when you say nothing at all – Ronan Keating had a good point about the value of negative space on web pages. Good hotel websites use empty space to make the viewing experience more comfortable and to draw a visitor’s eye to the most important things (per the visual hierarchy best practice above).
  • Gender neutrality: While some hotels will lean into masculinity or femininity in order to target a very specific type of guest, the reality is that this approach won’t work for the overwhelming majority of hotels, who risk instantly alienating half of their customer base. Choose a gender neutral look and feel – something minimalist, perhaps muted in terms of colours, but nonetheless eye-catching.
  • DIY: There was a time when hotel website construction was best left to the experts – but thanks to the rise of smart tools, that time has largely passed. An intuitive tool like Little Hotelier’s website builder makes it easy for almost anyone to create their own beautiful and fully functional hotel website, no matter their technical ability.

How to create a simple hotel website

Step 1: Choose a Website Builder

The first step in creating a hotel website is to choose a website builder. There are a few options on the market – WordPress probably being the most popular – but they require some know-how  and a lot of time to get a good result. 

Little Hotelier offers a comprehensive website builder specifically designed for small hotels. It’s user-friendly and requires no technical skills, making it an excellent choice for hoteliers.

Step 2: Select a Template

Once you’ve chosen your website builder, the next step is to select a theme that suits your hotel and its unique features. It should also be search-engine-friendly; you don’t want Google passing you by because of some bad website coding. 

Little Hotelier offers a variety of easy-to-use website templates designed to help your small property take direct bookings with ease. These templates are search engine optimised and can be customised to align with your brand.

Image showing an example of a hotel website template
Example of one of Little Hotelier’s hotel website themes

Step 3: Customise Your Website

After selecting a template, it’s time to customise your website. This includes filling out your homepage and other main pages such as ‘Book’, ‘Contact’, ‘About Us’, etc. You should also add information and high-quality photos of your rooms and amenities. 

We reckon that pictures are the most important part of a hotel website and can be the difference between empty rooms and a place packed to burst. Little Hotelier makes it easy to create new content and stunning image galleries to showcase your property’s best qualities.

Step 4: Add Booking Functionality

A crucial feature of your hotel website is the ability to take direct bookings. Direct bookings mean that you can bypass those annoying OTA commissions, leaving you with more cash to grow your business. For maximum success, your booking process must be streamlined and easy to follow. Otherwise, guests might click off before they click “book”.

Little Hotelier’s website builder integrates seamlessly with its direct booking engine, allowing you to take direct bookings and payments online. This feature is a big part of how we’ve been able to help hoteliers like you increase their direct bookings by up to 43%!

Image showing an example of direct booking functionality
What a simple, clean, booking page looks like

Step 5: Launch Your Website

Once you’ve customised your website and added booking functionality, it’s time to launch. With Little Hotelier, your website can be up and running in as little as an hour once you’ve provided all your necessary content and information.

Remember, a good hotel website is not just about good looks. A great website is more than just a pretty face. It should also be functional, easy to navigate, and provide all the necessary information that potential guests might need before deciding to book.

Create beautiful hotel websites with Little Hotelier

If you’re ready to create your own hotel website – one that is modern, visually stunning and incredibly effective at turning visitors into guests – there’s no better helper than Little Hotelier‘s website builder. This intuitive tool has been made specifically for small, independent hoteliers, allowing you to build your own beautiful hotel website, in as little as an hour, even if you have no web development experience. With Little Hotelier, all the perks of a gorgeous, fully functional website are just a few clicks away:

  • Beautiful, hotel-specific templates: We’ve done the hard work for you, creating stunning hotel website templates that you can effortlessly customise to suit.
  • Drag and drop elements: No code, no worries – sculpting and customising your hotel website can be as easy as choosing your preferred template, dragging and dropping elements into place, and filling with text!
  • Complete functionality built in: Earn more with direct bookings. Enjoy greater control with PMS integration. SEO, mobile optimisation and all the functionality you could ever need comes as standard when you use Little Hotelier’s website builder.
  • Work across languages and currencies: Little Hotelier’s website builder helps you to break down international barriers – our sites can speak your guest’s language and charge in their currency.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).