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Key attributes of a successful hotel website

Published :2010-09-28 17:00

by Stephen Saugestad


If you’re a hotelier, you’ve probably heard the phrase “best practice” bandied around in the context of designing and building a website. Typically it’s nothing more than a buzz phrase in an industry that’s littered with them. At best, it’s a self-serving way for businesses to make their process sound more legitimate. At worst, it’s trick designed to make people believe that it's endorsed in some way by the larger community of companies who serve businesses in your industry.

Instead we adhere to a set of principals we've developed through trial and error, refined by our experience designing and building websites for tourism and hospitality clients. This is an evolving list that we adapt to the ever-changing technical and social landscape. We hope you find it useful.







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When you are putting together your packages, specials, and promotions, make sure you follow some general rules. Use language that suggests urgency ("book now", instead of "reservations"), position it on the page so users will always see it (above the fold [sic] on the most common monitor resolutions), make it accessible on every page if you can, and add a visual accent with color or motion.

Language is important: "book now" will convert higher than "reserve".

For example we always do a promotional offer interface for our friends at MTM. We use eye-catching photos and motion that automatically scrolls between offers to draw the user’s attention – check out Bardessono at

Entry points + clear paths

How do you intend a user to begin their interaction with the site? What’s the most desired interaction? Does the page design and architecture foster this course of action?

Nietzsche once stated that “to predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence”. Keep this in mind when you’re designing the interface of a website. When users don’t find what their want in a second or two, they start clicking around mindlessly in search of their intended destination. Increase the likelihood that they'll find what they're looking for by making the intended action clear to the user.

Make the intended action clear to the user.

There are many ways to make the entry points more obvious to the user. If you have an interactive element on the page, use (simple) language that tells the user how to engage the tool (e.g. “start!”, “let’s go!”). If you’re using a video, tell the user where to go once the video has played. If you want people to sign up to your subscriber list, just collect the email address, and do it from the same page.

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