Nothing stays still for long in the world of web design. Technological innovation, new devices and ways to access the internet, and the evolving nature of how customers like to interact with websites all contribute to a constantly shifting landscape. This is especially true of the travel industry and the way people are inspired to book travel experiences.
When it comes to hotel website design, the hospitality industry has been relatively slow to evolve in comparison to its counterparts in retail and online services. But new developments and tools have allowed hotels to vastly improve their digital presence and create a better user experience, ultimately leading to more direct bookings.
Here are some of the major hotel web design trends of recent times that hotels in particular should pay attention to:
The move towards minimalism
The minimalist design trend has been around for a while now and will continue on this year and beyond. The minimalist approach means ridding pages of clutter and embracing a clean, simple design ethic that makes navigation easier for customers—a key factor to help reduce bounce rates.
Cupertino Hotel and The Grand Hotel in Silicon Valley do an excellent job of embracing this less-is-more approach, demonstrated with a beautifully designed, distraction-free homepage. In one simple scroll, the websites are able to convey all basic but necessary information that a user might need before booking: general hotel info, location, rooms, and amenities.
Letting photos do the talking
The increase in mobile usage has fundamentally shifted the way we communicate online. Because of the smaller screens, imagery has become the most important way to tell a brand’s story online. For hotels, this means more than showcasing great property photos—it’s about curating images that paint a vivid picture and resonate with the customer. It’s not just about the hotel’s rooms and amenities, but rather the entire trip experience you’ll have when you stay there.
24 North Hotel in Key West, for example, mixes room and pool photos with gorgeous landscape photos of the surrounding area, as well as images of people snorkeling and on the beach. In this way, users are not only envisioning themselves in the hotel, but enjoying an unforgettable Key West vacation.
The Burrard in Vancouver also employs a storytelling strategy with its imagery, using modeled retro-styled photos throughout its site. The kitschy, colorful images breathe life into a site that could otherwise just be boring property photos.
Given the increasing reliance on mobile to complete travel bookings, having a mobile-friendly website is becoming ever more crucial. This importance was added to last year following Google’s announcement that they were favoring mobile-friendly websites in their search results.
Some hotel brands are going a step further than mobile-friendly—they’re going for a “mobile specific” user experience. In mobile-specific design, websites are created with the user context in mind, not just the device’s screen size.
Take Hilton, for example. Visit their main site on a mobile device, and you will simply see a search tool, already populated with “Hotels Near Me.” This assumes that many mobile users are looking for a hotel on the go. Clicking on a hotel’s listing will also bring up a convenient call button to directly speak with the hotel.
Integrated rates and offers
For the longest time, hotel websites could not be updated in real-time with new data from the central reservation system (CRS). Only when users entered the booking engine could they see rates and offers after entering their dates. Now hotel website platforms are being equipped with technology to dynamically pull information direct from the CRS onto the website.
This is a technology that we’ve recently implemented into a number of hotel websites through our own hotel website platform. Now hotels such as the Taj Boston and The Pierre in New York have a direct connection between their website and CRS, allowing the website to display the most current rate for its rooms, the latest special offers and deals, and even the number of recently made bookings. This straightforward and user experience quickly gives travelers the information they need so they can more efficiently make a purchasing decision.
Content and incentive plugins
Hotels looking to offer a more tailored experience on their website can now take advantage of a number of plug-in tools. For example, the St. James’ Court in London uses a virtual concierge integration powered by Fiz to provide a curated guide of nearby attractions, including historical sights, museums, parks, galleries and restaurants.
Other hotels, such as Park Central New York, are now offering custom incentives to guests who book directly through the website. Powered by companies like Voyat, these incentives later become custom-tailored loyalty offers as past guests revisit the website later to book.
These types of tools not only enrich the browsing and booking experience, but can also help to increase engagement and conversion rates.
Hero video headers
Thanks to faster internet connections and advanced video plugin integration, websites are now able to host crisp videos without suffering a lag in load times. On average, dwell times on websites are two minutes longer when they include video, so placing this kind of content prominently on a homepage clearly has benefits.
The hero video header trend is one we’re seeing with brands like boutique hotel group citizenM. Their homepage has a 60-second video showcasing guest rooms, social areas and amenities, while promoting the brand’s unique selling proposition of high-end design, comfort, and affordability.
The Standard also employs this on their hotels’ websites, using a subtle looping video on the homepage to create a dramatic effect.
This trend feels like a natural evolution of the traditional “hero image,” acting as an instant and powerful way of hooking visitors’ attention from the get-go.
Website design evolution
Hotels have long treated websites as fancy “brochureware,” simply an electronic version of printed marketing material. But with the majority of travelers booking their travel online, the mindset has shifted to treating websites as key transactional centers, built upon solid principles of e-commerce. No matter the trends, the best hotel website design is a combination of form and function, bringing together a beautiful storytelling aesthetic with smart tools and technology to help customers browse and book efficiently.
Many of the hotel sites featured within this post have been designed and developed by Travel Tripper’s in-house agency on our new hotel website platform TT Web. To learn more about TT Web and our design and development services, request a demo today.