Design is very subjective. It’s like our preferred style of clothes, our taste in cars and our definition of beauty. It’s all very subjective. Most of us have a specific kind of style because we feel that it represents us as individuals. Having looked at more than 100 hotel websites in the previous month I realised that the majority of websites are poorly designed in my humble opinion. Design is your business’ image to your potential guests. If your hotel is great then you deserve to have a great digital presence. You deserve to show your potential guests that your hotel is an ideal option for them to spend their holidays at. If you choose not to, average design will stop working for you at some point because competition is fierce and people will realize that they have better options.
Way too many great hotels have a terrible web presence, starting from their website design to their social media content design. Some of those hotels have great locations, great service but people (potential guests) ALWAYS make their decisions based on visuals. Most people don’t understand or can elaborate a bad design. However, they will have a certain feeling towards a certain artwork that could potentially affect their decision whether they would book a hotel or not. They would only book a hotel with a bad web presence only if they stayed at that hotel before and they liked the experience. For new clients like myself and millions of other millennials that hotel will be a definite no-no.
Most successful companies in the world know that design is key to overall success. In fact, a 10-year study by the Design Management Institute and Motiv Inc showed that between 2004-2014, design-led companies (Apple, Coca Cola, Four Seasons, Marriott) have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 219%. Before you think about Four Seasons’ or Apple’s budget, let me just mention that you don’t need to have an Apple-sized budget to have amazing design and definitely you don’t need to become a design-led hotel. What you have to become is a hotel that cares about your guests and understands what great design is.
Difficult to navigate, ugly website will scare people away
I’m sorry but this is so true. I’m not just saying this because we design and develop great websites here at IQD Hospitality, but honestly a bad website will make people scratch their heads about your hotel. If a potential client can’t find your special offers, encounters difficulties when booking or navigating logically to the resources they need to make a decision, then you understand that you’ve lost the game. This is where great design is fundamental, not just nice to have.
Website and social media design communicate your brand
Do you think successful hotels and brands got there by mistake or because they were lucky? Not even close. They understand the value of branding and design. They invest in their brand so they have a fully booked hotel not just in 2017 but in 2027. Great design speaks volumes about a company’s professionalism, quality and leadership. Using great design consistently on all your marketing materials and throughout your website is good branding, it definitely makes you look legit and shows that you have your act together. You can have the greatest hotel in the world, you can have the most appealing story but if your online presence looks like a mess, you’ve lost your audience.
Please remember, your guests don’t spend day in and day out at your hotel, that’s just you. They don’t know that you are a great hotel manager/owner/marketing manager of a very nice hotel.
Great design sells
Hotels and brands spend more and more money on magazine covers and fancy packaging for a reason. They are not idiots. They know and understand that first impressions draw people in. The engagement of a user with a brand is the whole experience. Even a simple but interesting featured image on your hotel blog can act as an opportunity to draw users to read an article or engage with your Instagram post. Great design inspires people to make a booking, to buy something they want and it definitely increases bookings.
You don’t need great design just for of the sake of it, you need great design to increase bookings and sell. People save for 12 months to go on holidays and want to have fun and relax. Why make them ‘suffer’ before they make their investment in you?
So you are fully booked because you’ve established a great relationship with your guests. That’s great. I’m happy for you. What about evolving as a hotel though? What about evolving as an individual? You can be fully booked today, you can be fully booked in 2017, 2018 and 2019 but what about 2020? Your clients might be 40+ at the moment, but what about millennials? Thinking about today and tomorrow means having a short term rather than a long term mentality. Great hotels evolve all the time, they improve their service and their marketing every single day because they know that if they don’t, the market will eventually decide to spend their money with a hotel that evolves, with a hotel that actually cares.
Many companies and hotels went bust because they didn’t evolve, they didn’t care and they were romantic about their relationship with their guests. I guess Blockbusters, Nokia, W Boston Hotel and hundreds of other brands weren’t thinking long term when they were making billions and were ‘fully’ booked. By mentioning this, I don’t mean to scare you or anything, I just want you to understand the importance of branding and design. We should never blame the economy for anything, we always get what we work for. Recently I read an article from the Cyprus Mail where PwC said that Cyprus’ Hotels need a better social media strategy. You can have a read if you are interested.
Evolvement rewards only those that actually evolve, not those who are comfortable and choose not to. Great design, marketing and social media matter. You either choose to move forward or you choose to stay the same and eventually have an empty hotel to yourself.