Luxury Hotel Web Design 101

Always remember this, all websites are the same.

Not true, but they’re fundamentally similar. They all have the same purpose. To sell more products/services, and save time. They serve as a digital storefront for your brand. No matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, a website serves as the “web” where you lure customers in & get them to buy your stuff. The benefit of a good website is that it will continue to passively seduce your customers for years.

The 5 most essential features of a website are:

  • info about the product/service you’re selling
  • info about the brand (optional)
  • social proof that other people buy from you
  • awards, press features, etc that make you look like an expert
  • a funnel that makes it easy to buy from you right now
  • updated contact info

Luxury hotel web design is pretty quirky, however. Unlike service websites (medical, legal, etc) – luxury hotel websites need more social proof and less content. The branding needs to be similar to an e-commerce website. Even though the “product” being sold is a service, rather than a deliverable the customer can take home, the website needs to communicate a feeling that is almost tangible to the user.

A luxury hotel website should include social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials, compelling imagery, and photos of the customer experience.

When you think about it… aren’t you more likely to filter through product reviews than home repair reviews? Once I’ve read 2-3 service reviews, whether I’m getting a facial or a getting my teeth cleaned, I feel like I have enough info.

The Differences Users Look for When Selecting Hotels

However, when I’m buying a new cell phone or dog leash, I can’t seem to do enough research.

Unfortunately, airlines, restaurants, and hotels are subject to the same kind of scrutiny as e-commerce products. This is where the line blurs between a service and a product. From a psychological standpoint, it’s much more important to purchase the right product.  Many users will keep technology, clothing, etc for years. Whereas services are generally recurring purchases and there is more room for error.

Ultimately, luxury hotel websites require more seduction. The amount of seduction required seems to correlate with how tangible a product or service is.

Presentation is Key

Your digital storefront should look better than the physical hotel. The one caveat to this is if your hotel is branded to look old, Victorian style, historic, etc. Then it’s understandable if your website is outdated. However, basic things like missing hyperlinks and low quality images tell the customer a lot about the attention to detail they can expect to experience.

At a subconscious level, every detail about the UI/UX of a website is either seducing or repelling prospects. A site that isn’t mobile optimized tells the customer that your business is unintentionally archaic. If your website is glitchy, it tells customers you rush through things. A site with irrelevant articles tells customers you’re just trying to get their attention but you don’t actually care to understand why and how they think the way they do. Luxury hotel websites should focus on the user experience, it should have a clean & crisp design, and it should communicate exclusivity. Let’s face it, luxury hotel guests want a seamless, peaceful, and worry-free experience. Similar to first-class airline passengers, luxury hotel guests are paying to be above the fray. A website is a powerful tool, but a poorly branded website is doing more harm than good.