1. A Focus On Personalization
We've talked about the personalization of the guest experience using data for a number of years now. There is really no better focus in order to create and strengthen your connection with your community, guests, and prospects. Examples abound: Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Booking.com, and Airbnb. All of these brands use AI and machine learning on their sites to analyze visitor behavior and recommend relevant content in real-time, focusing on things like location, demographics, and behavioral data.
How does this apply to hotels and restaurants? Today we can highly personalize content on a website based on guest data like location, gender, segment, or device. This improves your conversion rate and therefore your direct income generated by your website.
2. The QR Code Lives On
Before COVID, QR codes were not widely used but the pandemic saw their popularity explode. Today, QR Codes are everywhere, from digital menus to room directories. QR codes are valuable because they offer hoteliers a centralized way to keep their guests up-to-date.
For example, updating the spa menu on your site will simultaneously show the latest version in every guest room when a QR code is scanned.
Unfortunately, we still meet many hoteliers and restauranteurs that use PDFs of their menus or room service offerings. This misses out on the main benefit of the QR code, but there are still opportunities:
- Install tracking (to know exactly what your guests want).
- Generate immersive experiences (for example, launching a small video game for guests with children when they have scanned the QR Code).
- Do cross-selling, for example, offering a special offer for a spa booking (ideal for non-hotel guests who have lunch in your restaurant and have not yet thought of coming to your spa).
If you are looking to digitize your room directory, take a look here.
3. A Conversational Tone
With the rise of ChatGPT and AI in general, there has been a shift to sites using more conversational elements to provide a more unique experience. In the hospitality industry we have mostly seen this manifest with chatbots but the future likely holds more advanced conversational interfaces that can predict the needs of a guest, take care of reservations, and answer most questions.
The environmental impact of a website is becoming a major issue. It is therefore important to consider this in the optimization of your website in order to find a balance between the user experience, the project/business constraints, and the usage of resources. It is also an opportunity to put users at the center of services, by providing them with precise information about the environmental impacts of the technology you use.
Turn legal obligations into opportunities to build trust by communicating in a clear and educational way about the uses of personal data and cookies.
Design and develop inclusive services, accessible to all, and adapted to different technical systems to avoid obsolescence.
5. Mobile-first is no longer optional
There were over 7.1 billion mobile users worldwide in 2022. Devices are becoming more capable and versatile, giving users plenty of options. In fact, in 2021 over 40% of hotel bookings were made on mobile, and the percentage is only rising. Keeping design simple is key; with expanded 5G on the horizon, users expect sites and apps to load almost instantly, and an overabundance of design elements significantly increases loading times.
Also, make sure to focus on your conversion funnel (aka your booking engine), which can often be overlooked on mobile. Some recommendations:
-Offer GooglePay and ApplePay
-Make sure that the steps to booking are kept to a minimum. You don't want you prospect to have to go through 6 different pages in order to book.
Check out our full Insights article on mobile conversion funnels here.
6. Storytelling has never been more important
This may seem obvious, but the world of hospitality has not yet mastered the art of storytelling online. It is essential for the visitors on your website to connect with you and your brand, as this connection increases the chances of a booking. The more a prospect knows a brand's full story, the more likely they are to trust and identify with the company. Tell stories and describe experiences that are emotional and immersive, that arouse curiosity and push the visitor to interact with you further.
A good example from Belmond:
7. Dark Mode
In 2023, almost all mobile applications offer a darker design as an alternative. They often offer not only a darker screen but a whole palette of darker colors: brown, dark green, dark blue, etc. This style of graphic design applies not only to games and multimedia but to many other mobile applications.
Why is dark mode popular? It helps to better highlight individual details on a site, it helps save mobile device charge, and it is easier on the eyes. The growing interest in dark mode is challenging the familiar interface of many sites and apps. In the years to come, it could well become an essential prerequisite in the eyes of Internet users.
Want to try it out? Use this extension to automatically convert your site to dark more.
8. A creative scrolling experience
Browsing a website by scrolling offers many opportunities to “surprise and delight” visitors, letting them uncover more and more elements, which can change in the background, move with the user, or immerse the user in the site experience.
What was once a passive way to move around a site has become an active and engaging experience that transports the user, creating a much more immersive and memorable experience.
Although this is quite rare in the hospitality industry, you can take a look at an example here.
9. More video
In the hospitality industry, video can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the guest experience. For example, hotels can use live video to show available rooms and hotel facilities to give guests a better idea of what to expect during their stay.
Restaurants can also use live video to show dishes on offer or to allow guests to see cooks in action in the kitchen. These can also be used to offer tours of tourist attractions, amusement parks, and historical sites to give guests an idea of what to expect from their visit. This can help guests make a buying decision faster.
With the rise of Instagram Stories and TikTok, video communication has become a focus for many brands. Using social media content on your site can promote a feeling of authenticity to visitors on your site, so consider reusing your content across formats and channels and designing mini-films that reflect the image of your establishment. You can take a look at a good example in the daily programming of the Chouchou Hotel here.
10. Instant messengers
Instant messaging applications are communication tools that allow users to exchange messages in real-time. In the hotel and restaurant sector, these applications can be used to offer another method of communication between guests and employees outside of phone and email.
Hotels can use instant messaging apps to provide real-time customer service, answer guest questions or provide information about rooms, rates, events, and more. Restaurants can use instant messaging applications to take reservations, make food suggestions, or manage take-out orders.
Here are some ideas of how to integrate instant messaging into your site:
- Add a WhatsApp button on the website: This allows users to chat in real-time with an employee of the establishment to obtain information or to ask questions.
- Integrate of an online reservation system: Users can reserve a room or a table directly through a chatbot on the website.
- Add a notification system: Users can receive push notifications for special offers or upcoming events.
- Integrate an online ordering service: Users can order dishes for home delivery or for take-out directly on your website.