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If you're in the hotel market, you have probably noticed an increase in customer usage of online booking platforms. For example, consumer intent for flying and online hotel booking was 50% more in September 2021 than it was in September 2020, according to Deloitte.
In addition, it's estimated that over 700 million people will make a booking online by 2023. If you were thinking of creating a hotel booking website, it is just the right time to jump on the bandwagon.
But online hotel booking websites aren't limited to property listings and good-looking photos. To compete in the market, you should know how to create a hotel booking website that:
- converts hot calls into sales;
- processes bookings fast;
- manages booking process with no bugs;
So how to make a booking website? In this article, I'll share first-hand experience on the development steps and key features, help you decide between ready-made solutions vs. custom development, and name the challenges and their respective solutions.
Stay tuned for lots of valuable info.
Why There's a Need For an Online Booking Website
In 2021 the global online travel industry generated more than $800 billion in revenue and is expected to reach $1,463 billion by 2027. More interestingly, in 2022, 64% of online booking purchases were done on a desktop and 44% on a mobile device. This shows a shift from 2021 when the figures were 59% and 41%.
Two main reasons why the popularity of hotel booking websites is rapidly climbing are:
- Growing internet usage;
- Credit card penetration.
All points to one thing – the global travel market is shifting online. Most of the revenue will come from the increasing penetration of international flights and hotel bookings offered by online portals such as Airbnb, Booking, TripAdvisor, Skyscanner, etc. So if you want to increase profits from your properties, creating a booking website is the way to go.
Before jumping right into "how-to," let's figure out what a hotel booking website is and how it works.
How Do Hotel Booking Websites Work?
Accommodation seekers have got it easier nowadays with hotel bookings – with a few clicks, they can select available dates and rooms in real time, completing the payment as well. This multifunctionality is available with an online booking engine integrated into a hotel website. The data, filled out by the visitors, is transferred to the property management system (PMS) and the occupancy schedule. Other handy functions can also be added, for example, automatic dispatch of confirmation emails.
The key consideration here is that the online hotel booking system simplifies the hotel's reservation processes. Customers don't need to go to another website to complete the reservation since all can be done on a hotel booking website.
Website Builder vs. Custom Solution: What Suits Your Business?
Getting an annual Bubble or WIX subscription or hiring a professional web designer? The answer to this question is determined by your needs, budget, time frame, and other factors. Here is the list of questions to help you better understand how to start a booking website: using ready solutions or custom development?
How vast is your business?
Talking about the dimensions of your business, think of any potential developments that are likely to pop up in the future. Customization would allow more flexibility when it comes to changes, including the incorporation of various systems and platforms.
How many listings do you have, and where are they available for customers?
The number of listings shapes your business needs. If you have 2-3 properties for rent, it makes less sense to invest in creating a custom website. You can upload listings on Airbnb, Booking, or other platforms. But if you have 10 and more listings or own a hotel with multiple rooms – creating a custom website is definitely the thing you need.
What content do you have prepared?
Big and spacy hotel pictures address users more quickly than any text, submerging them into a demo version of the stay experience. Most web builders allow the display of both photos and videos. Pretty often, though, website builders will ask you to optimize your content, meaning you'd have to cut out the desired size or quality of an image or video.
Do you already have a website?
If so, the logical question is – why did you decide to change/ stop using it? Hand-coding grants you total control over the website's functionality and design. So you can customize the platform to your business needs and get the max of it.
Do you use digital tools?
3rd party accounting providers, messengers, property or payment management – custom development is a must if you already use these digital tools. Once you shift the processes online and see the positive result, such as optimized booking flow, and smooth user experience, you don't want to come back to the roots.
Do you use PMS?
If you are already using a PMS, it's worth considering its pros and cons. Maybe you lack some functionality, or the dashboards aren't clear enough. Custom development gives you total control over the features of your website. Meanwhile, web builders let you add new features, but many of them don't support editing on websites with no builder previously applied.
What are your expectations from the product?
Do you want your hotel website to process a couple of bookings in a month, and you're ok with handling some booking processes on your own? Or otherwise, do you expect rapid growth, need to scale fast, and digitalize all the processes? The expectations matter a lot.
Obviously, for the first case, it's enough to use a web builder and ready solutions. But if you see that the second one is your case, custom development is a more efficient option. You'll invest time and money into a custom hotel website development one time and avoid the headache of updating it and rebuilding it later.
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4 Reasons to Develop a Custom Hotel Booking Website
Here I summarized 4 reasons why a custom hotel booking website is so beneficial for your business.
Create Outstanding UX&UI Design
Building a hotel website with professional developers in a team allows you to furnish your website the way you fancy. Double-kill if the website's unique look can please a visitor's eye. The color theme, fonts, and images are there to draw the visitor's attention.
Unify Different Solutions In One App
Each of us had this experience of being sent from place to place for the sake of completing some tedious bureaucratic procedure – sign here, pay there, and hand in the papers somewhere else. Similar horrors can occur on different hotel platforms. However, a custom booking website foresees the integration of different management systems, which lend a helping hand to the customers and hotel employees.
Uptech tip: When developing a website for your hotel, think of incorporating a certain messenger or a map within, enabling visitors to finalize various actions quickly and without having to be redirected anywhere.
Rumour has it that building a custom hotel booking website is way more costly than using a web builder. It is absolutely true since various web builders don't incorporate messengers, payment platforms, and many other handy facilities for which you will have to pay additionally. Not to mention that sometimes you might end up paying an annual subscription for a template you don't even like.
Customization will be less money-consuming in the long run, allowing you to apply new extensions and changes, and these perks will pay themselves off eventually.
Now let's see what benefits we have with a custom booking website:
- distinctive design;
- unified solutions in one app;
- fast loading and no bugs;
Founders who choose custom hotel booking websites offer top-notch user experience. Visitors open your app, it runs smoothly without bugs, loads fast, and has a unique design – it all leads to higher conversion and retention, which equals higher profit.
How to Create a Custom Hotel Booking Website that Converts: 5 Main Steps
We at Uptech are big fans of the Lean approach to product development. It means that we know how to develop a hotel booking website that brings value with fewer resources. Below I gathered 5 main steps we follow, while building a hotel booking platform. Check them out!
Step1 – Explore the market
Before launching an actual website, discovering the market shapes the idea of what you want to see on your web page and what you'd rather avoid. As soon as you step into your customer's shoes, conduct the research and take a closer look at two crucial aspects:
- Competitors research.
At Uptech, we start with analyzing the running trends in your industry and the competitors' revenue, ratings, and user traffic. What makes them stand out? What captures your eye when entering their website? And where can you outdo them?
- User research.
As for the second point in the research process, we dive into the audience's needs and pains and try to match them by developing a custom hotel booking website. The users' pains might vary from slow loading time to complex payment procedures, or it might even be a poor website interface that wards users off – you name it. We always consider the frequent problems and keep them in mind when developing a hotel booking platform.
Step 2 – Design your website
After you gather useful insights, it is time to define the understructure of your website. Again, if you want to gain a better vision of your potential interface, hiring a UX/UI specialist is the best option. At this stage, you can help the designers by providing the following info:
- What content do you have (your logo, images, videos, maybe some preferable fonts or other visual elements that mark your brand)?
- What features do you plan on using (any integrated engines, management systems, or some other platforms)?
Step 3 – App Development
This phase is basically about materializing your drafts and ideas from the previous stages. If you opt for total customization and hire website developers, they will start to do the coding.
We at Uptech always adopt our development processes to the specific needs of each client.
If you're a startup with a product idea in mind, we practice the Lean approach. We start with PoC, then develop it into an MVP, check the idea's feasibility, and polish the app into a perfect full-fledged product in the end. We know that speed means a lot for startups, so we develop the product as fast as possible to validate the idea, without loosing the quality.
If you already have a hotel booking app and need to polish it, improve the retention, user experience, you name it – we can cover that. First, we examine the existing app and discuss what exactly need to be changed: is it design or a features set, or the app infrastructure. Based on that, we decide what services you need, agree on the project scope, the team needed and cooperation model: dedicated team or outstaff.
Step 4 – Testing the product
Testing the website is essential before launching it – your tech team or outsourcing partner will be able to detect the possible issues and fix them in advance.
Step 5 – Launch the website
Setting your hotel website in motion seems like the final step in the website development process. However, from this very point, you have to keep your eyes peeled on new trends in the industry, manage the users' feedback and work on the possible upgrades to get your business running.
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6 Key Features of Hotel Booking Website
If you want to create a competing hotel booking website, it must include the following features:
I saw it, I booked it, I got it – let the user make it snappy when it comes to the reservation process. Quick communication between the frontend and the backend is the core mission in any service field.
Payment Management System
Direct booking goes hand in hand with direct payment. Digital invoices, besides being time-saving and efficient, are overall easier to keep track of for hotel managers.
Complex Admin Panel
Make your admin panel a life-saving tool by adding the following functionality:
- Reservation management;
- Admin dashboard;
- Booking calendar;
- Additional services management.
Whether it's newsletter sign-ups, table reservations, or the booking button – call-to-actions are in charge of bringing the visitor straight to the service or to a contact person.
Uptech tip: Make the CTA buttons for varied services stand out so that the user sees and recognizes them right away.
Integrating a map into your hotel website would definitely prevent visitors from going missing among the various resort facilities. Also, in-app maps would give a better understanding of potential transport choices in the area.
Reviews & testimonials
Ratings might not be the first thing people go to look up for while booking a hotel, but it is usually an ultimate decisive point where the matter of trustworthiness is negotiated. According to TripAdvisor, 52% of its users would never book a hotel with no reviews, which means it would be a good idea to manage a review system in your app or website.
Why Uptech? Hotel Website Development Challenges We Help You Solve
Below I highlighted three main challenges in hotel booking website development we help you to solve.
Update listings on multiple platforms
To update the listing on multiple platforms, you have 2 options: hire cheap labor or hire an outsourcing partner. We at Uptech help you develop a custom solution with PMS that updates listing automatically on different platforms, so you save time and costs.
Up-to-date available date slots
We can create a custom development solution that syncs with the booking system and automatically updates the date slots.
Convert hot calls into sales
It's often a problem for booking platforms without websites that people call and don't book. Custom development allows you to convert hot calls into sales through the support and accounting system. People can rebook, manage their booking, and choose the most suitable slot in real-time.
What is The Cost of Building a Hotel Website?
Numerous aspects contribute to the costs of developing an online hotel booking system. The time frame will vary significantly depending on whether you need to polish the existing app or build a new solution from scratch.
At Uptech, we offer several options:
- Developing an app from scratch and starting with the MVP;
- Rebuilding the existing app and extending the feature base;
- Polish the existing app by improving some parts of the app.
The timeframe for each case is different, which means costs vary too. On average, it takes 3 - 5 months to develop a fully functioning MVP, and the project team needed includes:
- Project manager
- UX designer
- Back-end developers
- Front-end developer
- QA engineers
This is the general case. Of course, the complexity of your app, tech stack, and your business goals can influence the team structure and project costs.
The hotel industry is a vast business field that revolves around people. It takes in-depth research, constant communication, and a team of professionals to match the expectations of your users.
In this article, I explained how to create a hotel booking website and highlighted the value of custom hotel booking development. The quick pace and clear navigation are key in any service nowadays, and custom development satisfies these needs.
My final advice is to ask yourself how much you are ready to invest in hotel booking website development and what you want to take out of your business. Good investment often proves to be a win-win situation for you and your clients! So if this piece of read made you think of outsourcing custom website development to Uptech, contact us. We'll be happy to give you a helping hand.