10 secrets of luxury hotel websites (part one)

Unique amenities, exclusive experiences and personalised service used to be the proprietary domain of luxury hotels … but now these offerings have become mainstream in hotels from midscale upwards.

This means that high-end hospitality brands have had to raise the bar even higher to convey an extraordinary guest experience and differentiate themselves in meaningful ways.

But this isn’t easy in the online world, where pixels alone can’t create a luxury experience. Making a webpage feel luxurious is indeed a challenge for many hoteliers.

Whether they are appealing to young affluents or established wealthy travellers, here are the secrets that luxury properties use to engage and convert their direct hotel website visitors:

1) Luxury hotel websites tell a story

When consumers buy luxury goods they are buying into a story. BMW’s story, for example, is crafting luxurious cars. For Rolex, it’s a long history of fine Swiss watchmaking. Consumers want to be part of a something with cachet.

Something special and aspirational.

In the same way, affluent customers don’t just book rooms, they seek hotels that offer a story they want to be part of. Luxury hotel brands understand that booking a night on their property isn’t a functional or financial decision – it’s an emotional one. So, they know that their website has to craft a story that transcends the brick and mortar property itself.

2) Luxury hotel websites celebrate F&B

Luxury consumers consider food to be a vital component of their travel experience. So, smart upscale hotel brands know how to showcase their unique food and beverage offerings, including the connection to local, sustainable, and organic markets and purveyors, their chef’s background and inspiration, as well as showing their hotel’s proximity to authentic foodie finds, like local restaurants, farmers markets, etc.

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3) Luxury hotel websites emphasise health and wellness

Affluent guests are invested in keeping a healthy and active lifestyle both at home and on the road. Luxury hotels create experiences centred around their guests’ strive for wellness, including fitness programs like spin classes, outdoor yoga and meditation, nature walks, “bootcamp” classes and special menus focused on clean eating. Spas are also being reinvented as wellness retreats where guests not only get pampered with spa treatments, but indulge in therapies for their mind, body and soul.

4) Luxury hotel websites offer social validation

Luxury brands understand the power of social proof. Known as one of the six weapons of influence, social proof is the idea that people are more apt to purchase things that are endorsed by people they trust.

Affluent guests are highly cynical about marketing fluff and hyperbole. But they do trust each other … so they will spend time carefully reading past guest reviews to see what other travellers have experienced before them. They want to know that you are what you say you are and that you’re worthy of their investment. The best way for you to establish trust and “social validation” directly from your website is to prominently showcase select TripAdvisor reviews, previous guests’ Instagram photos, respected magazine awards and any major industry accolades.

5) Luxury hotel websites promise to change the viewers’ perspective

While affluent consumers have the ability to buy whatever they want, they invest in the products and experiences that inspire them and promise to change their perspective on life. They don’t just want front-row access to the destination, they want to be a part of it. According to a TripAdvisor study, experiences and the promise of an enhanced perspective are what ultimately drive travellers to pull out their wallets.

Check out this chart from the TripAdvisor study, which shows the disparity between what travellers actually want vs. what hoteliers THINK travellers want:

Luxury hotel brands respond to this desire by showcasing a culturally relevant experience that thrills and excites, rather than simply focusing on their plush beds or the premium coffee in the rooms.

Next week, check back for part two of this article…

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