Imagine this scenario: You have a beautiful new website incorporating your latest imagery and using all the digital marketing ploys recommended by your agency.
Yet the bounce rate remains stubbornly high. Potential audiences are landing on your homepage but then leaving, maybe to book with an OTA
or, even worse, with one of your direct competitors.
Guests have an expectation of what awaits them on the landing page. Just as when people perform a Google search, they want relevant, tailored content
If your homepage design, the grand entrance to your site, disappoints then they will leave at the front door.
And, more subtly, it’s not just about form; it’s also about function. If the way the homepage works confuses them, again they will turn and leave.
In this blog, I’m going to look at three key areas which influence homepage engagement and then at how they can be incorporated into a great, high converting design
1. Booking Panel
An open booking panel is the most important call to action (CTA) on the homepage.
The purpose of a hotel booking engine is to allow reservations to made directly on your hotel’s own website – the lowest cost channel of acquisition.
It also gives you direct access to these bookers for future offers, email campaigns and potentially to sign up to your loyalty program.
Users don’t have the time to be searching for the booking panel and they want to know what they are getting when they ‘book now’.
An open panel can be used to display your key booking advantages: guaranteed best rate online, unlimited super-fast wifi, free drink at the bar.
Across our websites the majority of bookings come directly from the homepage booking panel.
We have tested Aró sites’ performance with the panel closed or open; positioned at the left or right-hand side of the page; and dates pre-filled or not and with different messaging such as ‘Book Now’ or ‘See Prices’.
Customer engagement with an open panel was on average 30% higher than with a closed panel. This simply means more direct bookings for your high-end hotel, more revenue and better profits.
This is because:
•Guests can easily check which rooms are available when and for how much without having to contact you.
•You can securely accept credit card payments to ensure payment.
•All of your guests’ data is stored in your database and is accessible in one place.
2. Special Offers
Offers are a key channel for increasing direct bookings as they are under your control and the OTAs don’t have access to them. Besides that they are a key ingredient in your overall visual recipe and they help to accentuate your story.
Used sparingly, they are brilliant for driving business, particularly for customers who already know your brand.
A suitably placed panel on the homepage will dramatically increase uptake and by linking the offer to your booking engine you will drive conversion.
We have found that even just altering the position of an offer panel on the homepage affects conversion.
In an A/B test on a hotel website we found that simply moving the offer panel to the right-hand side increased revenue through that channel by nearly 50%.
Like special offers, vouchers are a key driver for increasing online revenue.
Vouchers are particularly effective when used seasonally, for instance Christmas, Easter or Mothers’ day and may be for special treats like afternoon tea or simply as a gift with a monetary value.
They can be appropriately styled to fit the occasion and the homepage design and either sent by email or by post from the hotel.
Placed next to an open booking panel for maximum effect, they always provide a dramatic sales boost as your guests look for that last minute gift.
Great Design and High Conversion
A good website design will feature the most relevant information above the fold. This includes your best images or videos, vouchers, offers and the booking panel.
The term ‘above the fold’ refers to the part of the page visible to the user without scrolling. The sole purpose of the above the fold content is to engage customers enough to get them to take some action.
Your website should load in less than three seconds and then you have another 3-4 seconds to engage a user with your content otherwise they are likely to head elsewhere.
The design for mobile device is particularly important as over 60% of hotel bookings come via this channel.
It is good to keep the same homepage image for brand consistency however a mobile-friendly design is required to highlight appropriate calls to action while retaining an uncluttered feel.
The best homepage design of a luxury hotel will load quickly and convey its personality at a glance, even on mobile devices.
It should have a clear, easy to use booking panel with consistent styling; clear calls to action; a sleek special offers slider on the bottom right and a gift voucher panel under the booking panel.