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5 Essential Elements of a Killer Boutique Hotel Website

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Ever wonder how the website for the Overlook Hotel from The Shining would look like in 2017?

Imagine you were poking around looking for a beautiful boutique hotel tucked away miles from anywhere in Colorado and you came upon the Overlook’s website.

It describes the hotel as “historic,” complete with a Native American burial ground. You can easily choose any room to book in the hotel, except for 237 for some reason. And the site trumpets all sorts of cool stuff, like a hedge maze, a free writing seminar and even a “very realistic” murder-mystery game.

Nice! You book for a week.

boutique hotel website

See, with a good website, you can sell just about any experience unique to your hotel. And that’s the advantage boutique hotels have over the big guys: they’re nice, quiet getaways with their own quirks and offerings that separate themselves from the one-size-fits-all Hyatts and Marriotts.

But how are your potential guests going to know all that without your great-looking boutique hotel website?

Guests make 148.3 million travel bookings online each year, and online bookings make up 57% of all travel reservations. While many of those bookings won’t come through your website, a large percentage of them do, and those finicky travelers are trying to get a feel for your hotel and what kind of experience you’ll offer. So don’t let them down.

But what makes a good site, one that will entice visitors to forego the familiar experience of one of the big chains for a more intimate stay at your smaller hotel? We’ve put together a list of the five essential elements of a good boutique hotel website below, so you can transform your own website into a sales machine.

1. It makes booking easy

The most important aspect of a good site is also the most practical. The booking engine should be front and center on your website, greeting visitors as soon as they land on the page.

Your guests are busy people and they don’t want to spend five minutes or more trying to book a room, so that doesn’t give you much time to engage a visitor who comes to your website. That’s why it’s best not to make them dig around through your website to try to find a way to book or, worse yet, force them to make a phone call in order to get a room.

Ideas for your website:

  • Get a hotel booking engine that can be embedded directly into your site.
  • Include a “Stay with us” link on your menu that scrolls your browser directly to your booking engine.
  • Provide a “rooms and rates” page that clearly lists what you offer and what discount they can get by booking directly with you.

2. It showcases what makes your hotel unique

There is the big reason customers are booking at your hotel and not at the big chains: you offer something unique, either in terms of services or because of a unique location.

Do you offer a discounted horseback ride through Yellowstone Park in Wyoming? You won’t get that if you book at a Super 8. Is your motel actually a super-cool and super-comfy converted barn, like the Falcon at Hatton in the West Midlands of England? Highlighting that on your website tells your guests they’re about to get an experience they aren’t likely to forget.

Ideas for your website:

  • Offer discount or even complementary packages to your guests that are focused on local attractions not available anywhere else.
  • Provide a map of what’s nearby that’s of interest to your guests.
  • List the amenities you provide that won’t be available at chain hotels.

3. It wows visitors with vibrant imagery and videos

Expedia recently found out that customers visit 38 websites before booking a reservation. Eye-popping, high-quality images placed front and center on your site are key to keeping that customer from immediately hopping back to a search engine or a booking site to find a place to stay.

There’s nothing like eye candy to get a customer salivating over what you offer. If they’re on your website at all instead of some booking engine, it shows they’re looking for something more than a bed.

Ideas for your website:

4. It has reviews, reviews, and more reviews

Did you know that 81% of hotel guests find reviews important, and 49% won’t even consider your hotel if you have no reviews? Crazy, huh?

If you think about it, it’s not that surprising. We’ve all had nightmare stays, and with a gazillion hotels out there, why stay somewhere without any reviews when there’s another place nearby that’s get four and a half stars from guests? Tons of potential guests are passing over your hotel if you don’t have reviews, so now’s the time to take action and use your website to your advantage.

Ideas for your website:

5. It highlights the food

Breakfast is huge for travelers. Hotels.com recently found that along with free Wi-Fi, travelers ranked complimentary breakfast as the most valuable hotel amenity. So why not blow your guests’ socks off by showcasing an awesome gourmet breakfast featuring local ingredients on your website?

But don’t forget to promote your dinner menu as well. Check out this description posted on the front of the website of the Falcon at Hatton, the boutique hotel we mentioned earlier:

“Enjoy our Autumn Winter Menu with a choice of great British classics, seasonal game creations and swimmingly good fish dishes. Toast our Sunday Roast, or simply savour a hand-pulled cask ale. Take a stroll straight off the car park down the public footpath and you’ll find stunning countryside.”

Tell me that doesn’t make you daydream of spending a few days there.

Ideas for your website:

So what now?

That’s great and all, but how do you, a hotel manager with no website design experience, actually put together a site that does all this? Don’t worry, there is a range of website design software specifically for sites that need booking capabilities. We’ve also found a few other tools out there specifically for hoteliers to get you started (and there are plenty more if you look around):

Have you designed your own website and can help your fellow hotel managers out? Please, let us know in the comments. Is there any great software out there for designing sites for hotels we should be aware of?  Or other elements you’ve tested successfully on your own boutique website?  We’d like to know about it.

Looking for Hospitality Property Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Hospitality Property Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Dan Taylor

Dan is a content writer at Capterra, specializing in hotel management, construction and real estate. Outside the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, catching up with the latest offering from HBO or paying a visit to a new place.

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