Creating a Hotel Booking Portal User Interface for All Generations

September 23, 2015

One of the hardest strategies companies struggle with is figuring out how to bridge the gap between customers of all ages — specifically when presenting the same product to all of them. In a world of quickly-changing technology, consumers are often targeted in different ways online. When it comes to the hotel buying experience, how do you appeal to everyone from Baby Boomers to Generations X, Y and Z at the same time? To answer that, we have to take a look at their similarities and differences…

Similarities between generations

Hotel rates. No matter the age, who doesn’t love a good deal? Regardless of the user, one thing all booking portals should focus on is providing the best available rates to users. This includes GDS and OTA distribution channels (property direct and third-party rates). Whether you’re 18 or 81, money is always a hot topic.

Simplicity. Recent web technology trends can be summed up into one word: simplicity. We have shifted into a 3.0 way of presenting online content that all age groups can agree on: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). How many times have we learned that providing too much content/immediate overflow of information is not only annoying, but unnecessary? Hundreds of hotels and third-party sources are still cluttering their booking engines with too much text and pages of endless steps. If it’s taking more than 3 or 4 clicks to complete a booking process, you’re trying to hard.

We live in a fast-paced online environment. Getting your point across in the quickest manner, but still providing necessary content to keep a user interested is the best and safest route to take. Allow potential customers to compare options quickly and efficiently, while providing all of the necessary data at just a click away. Both teenagers and your grandpa will appreciate this.

When landing on a booking page, we tend to quickly focus on three items when comparing hotels: brand, pictures and rates. Are other factors (star ratings, reviews, room types, etc.) important? Yes. But most likely the viewer will move on to those items after the first 3 mentioned are quickly evaluated. If we fail to keep the initial experience a seamless process, “kiss” your potential customer goodbye. Securing a room should be an enjoyable experience, not a frustrating decision.

Visuals. Some websites can be visually unappealing, thus immediately losing a customer. Keeping in mind the KISS model, users want to see what they are getting, while at the same time ensuring photos, graphics and designs are up-to-date. Have you ever landed on a web page and felt like Marty just opened up the door to his DeLorean? “Did I really just jump back to 1999?” If a customer uses the web on a daily basis, they understand that an outdated website can reflect as being out of touch with consumers.

Giving back. A soaring trend over the years is giving back. I recently had a conversation with my extended family about helping others. We all spoke about different ways we serve our local community, both directly and indirectly. One thought I took from that conversation was no matter the age, giving back to help others is something we can all do. At Hotels for Hope, it’s a privilege to take part in this movement on a daily basis. By incorporating this idea into the simple act of booking rooms through the RoomFunding™ platform, we are able to help transform lives of under-privileged children.

Customer service. There is nothing more frustrating than poor customer service. Being in the hospitality industry, expectations are high if you want to consider yourself a front runner for business. Whether you are a store-front company or an online-booking engine, providing elite customer service will always enable more opportunity to close the deal.

Differences between generations

Loading times. A common trait of younger web users is that we are spoiled. Never before has using a computer or accessing the internet been easier, quicker and more convenient. One of those major factors is processing speed. While a Baby Boomer may be more patient with loading time, the younger generation has already moved on to the next site. Around 25% of users will leave a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load (almost 50% if taking 10 seconds to load).

Another factor is turnaround time with interactions from your booking source. At Hotels for Hope, all phone calls are targeted to be answered in 2 rings and emails are responded to within 1 business day. While Johnny’s parents may be waiting around their computers or phones to hear back from those “other booking sources,” their kids have already tweeted about what hotel they are crashing at for ACL Music Festival.

Mobile usage. This one almost goes without saying. With Google studies showing that 36% of business travelers and 40% of leisure travelers are booking rooms on their mobile devices, how much of that data do you really think is related to Baby Boomers and older? Younger generations use their mobile device to look up online content more than using a computer. It’s fast, simple and convenient for on-the-go use. If your booking portal does not have a mobile-friendly or responsive design, you have just lost a huge chunk of viewership and booking opportunity from your Millennials.

Advertising. As a Millennial, I spend more time online than my father and grandfather, naturally. I am more familiar with marketing and promotional content we see everyday through websites and social media. While I think it’s cool that Google recognizes what my interests are (thus trying to market to me through live Ad Units), older generations find this more annoying. It can sometimes frustrate all-age groups, but companies who are advertising and promoting products through sites (including booking portals) are more likely to see success and less bounce rates among youngsters.

Buyer’s mentality. While older patrons may want a few simple hotel options to chose from (maintaining the KISS model), younger users are capable of sorting through multiple options online in a few seconds. We are in a world of BIG DATA, thus providing the consumer with as much needed information as possible. How booking engines carry that across to the user is key when considering their audience.

What does this all mean?

When looking at the similarities and differences above, there is a balance we must find to accommodate consumers of all ages under the same product umbrella. Our company, for example, aims to provide the best rates and present them in a simple, visually-appealing manner for the user. When booking a room with Hotels for Hope, you will receive an above-par customer-service experience while being a part of the RoomFunding movement that helps children in need.

Here are a few examples:

We’d love your feedback! How would you rate your experience with our booking portals? Comment below…