Improving Your Guest's Online Shopping Experience

 

In the hospitality industry our whole world revolves around the guest. Without them none of us would have a business. Because of how vital and important they are to us, we‘re constantly doing our best to roll out the red carpet and give them the most positive experience possible. We try to make sure everything is perfect for their entire stay.

However, often in the industry there is one area of the guest experience we tend to not focus on enough. This area is the guest’s online shopping experience. When was the last time you looked at your guest’s online shopping experience from their point of view? If it has been a while, we encourage you to take the time to see how you can improve your website and booking engine. In this post, we’ll be going over a few things businesses can do to help their guests and improve the online shopping experience.

1. Focus on the navigation of your website
If you haven’t recently, go visit your website and pretend you are a potential customer seeing it for the first time. Take a long look around and try to see it from their point of view without any 'sacred cows.' This means viewing your site without any emotional attachment. Just because we like something on the website doesn’t mean it’s what works best for our customers. Are there unnecessary clicks you can get rid of? Is the important information easy to find? How many steps does it take to make an online reservation?

Most people dislike having to click around on a website to find information. Make sure the most important information is easy to find. One section of information that should be very easy to find is how to make a reservation. You should place a reservations button on every page of your website along with its own section.

Bottom line, you want to do everything possible to avoid having your guests click or scroll too much. This is annoying and the extra time it causes can make them leave your website.

2. Remember that a good photo is worth a thousand words, and maybe a thousand dollars.
Making sure you have good, high quality images on your website is key to improving your guests experience and it’s probably one of the easiest ways to do so.

Online shoppers find images reassuring and helpful in identifying what they want. This is especially helpful in the hospitality industry. If your guest has never been to your property before, the images on your site are their gateway. Your photos tell the story of the experience they can expect from you. Are the images grainy, blurry, or poorly lit? A website that lacks great images will not be as attractive or helpful to customers. However, you have to be careful not to take a good thing too far. Too many photos can be a distraction and hinder your guests.

One of the nice things about today is most of our phones have fairly nice cameras. If your photos were taken more than five years ago, maybe see if your new iPhone or Android takes a better image. If you’re interested in learning more about how to photograph a room, here is a nice educational video. You may even want to evaluate if it would be worthwhile to hire a professional photographer.

3. Include customer reviews on your site
It’s now more important than ever to have reviews on your website. A PowerReviews study conducted in 2014 said that 86% of consumers see reviews as an essential resource when making a purchase and 56% of shoppers specifically seek out websites with reviews.

Usually, most guests search out reviews from third party sites, Facebook or Google. But you should also include a handful on your website to give people a taste of how others feel about you. Don’t be afraid to do this; it helps show you are honest and open with your guests and you take the time to listen to their feedback.

4. Proofread all online content
Make sure to read over everything before you post it online. Then make sure to read it again, and have someone else read it before you post it. Guests notise when things are spelled wrong on your website (see what we did there?) Many guests find it distracting when they notice spelling and grammar errors. Their online shopping experience with you can be halted and derailed by something as small as using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re.’ Please make sure your content has been proofread over and over. Mistakes may still happen, but this greatly reduces the chance of that occurring.

5. Make sure your content is the right length
When writing the copy for your website make sure you have the appropriate length for each section. In today's digital world most people just skim when reading until something catches their attention. Few people want to read a room description that’s a full page long on the home page. Write enough to give them a flavor of what you offer and then, once you have their interest, you can expand from there on a more appropriate subpage. Inversely, be sure to not write too little. It’s a fine balance and one which takes time. Practice with your content and see what works best.

6. Improve the loading rate of your website.
If your website doesn’t load in a timely manner then the guest experience is starting on the wrong foot; or rather, a slow one!

What loading speed should your business shoot for? A study done by Akamai, found that 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Amazon found that their revenue increased 1% for every 100 milliseconds improvement to their site speed. Now, chances are most of us will not have the same success rate as Amazon but this shows the importance of having a quick loading website.

This can be a challenging area to improve but we have a couple of suggestions that even the tech un-savvy can use. The easiest way to improve loading speeds is by making sure you have the correct image formats for pictures on your site. JPEG is the best option, with PNG being the second best. You should never load TIFF format images to your website because they will take a lot longer to load on your guest’s computer. Using the correct formats will decrease the amount of time it takes to load these images. Also avoid using images that are too large. For example, don’t load a 2000 pixel wide image into an area that is only 570 pixels wide. Resize the image before loading it to your website.

Another way to increase your speed is by enabling caching on your website. Basically caching temporarily stores information on your guests browser so the next time they visit your site there isn’t as much information to load. The downside is this requires some technical knowledge to do. If you’re interested in learning some techniques on how to do this you can read this article by Better Explained.

These are just handful of ideas on how to improve your guest’s online shopping experience. Overall, the main point is to keep your guest in mind when designing your website. Often we look at things from only our point of view and work on building something that is simple for us to use. But in the end, it is our guests who will be visiting the site, and they’re the reason we are even in this business.
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ResNexus is professional-grade, property management software for any business operating a reservation system. If you rent, lease or schedule business assets, ResNexus can help you run your business effectively.

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