3 Hotel Websites with Stellar UX (And what still needs to be fixed…)

Summer is upon us and that means it’s time to start planning and booking exotic getaways. In an ideal world, I’d be spending the next month bouncing around between Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta, and Italy, soaking in the sunshine and good times with the ones I love most. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world – but that doesn’t mean I can’t go to one of those places!

When it comes to actually booking my hotel/resort getaway, too often have I grown frustrated by how complicated it can be to do something that should be so simple. Bad website user experience and usability can lead people away from your resort and into the cozy sheets of a competitor with a more usable website. These 3 hotels want you using their beds, baths, and swimming pools – they’re determined to make the booking experience so effortless that you’ll refuse to spend your getaway elsewhere.

Hilton Hotel and Resorts

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It’s just SO easy and appealing! Hilton has bought into the idea that the most usable websites are the ones with the simplest designs. Hilton’s homepage is entirely void of clutter, has very little text, and contains relevant promotion buttons sprinkled about. All I have to consider when I first log on is where I want to go and when I want to go there.

Let’s say I do want to go to Puerto Vallarta for a week. After entering my dates and destination, I’m brought to a beautifully simple booking page:

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Perhaps the best part of this page lies in the bottom right corner, where a chatbot is eager to help me work out any difficulties I may be encountering. It’s funny, Hilton has simplified the booking experience so much, and yet they’ve nevertheless employed chatbots to make damn sure nobody is deterred from booking a room because of confusion or frustration. This simple, usable site makes for an effortless user experience that allows one to feel excited, not frustrated by the prospect of spending a week on the beach in Mexico.

Marriott

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Well, this looks strikingly similar. Nothing about this design screams “TURN AND RUN.” It’s simple, sleek, and the spotlight image entices visitors to follow through with the booking process. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a suite that looks like that? Just as with the Hilton site, all one needs to consider is where they want to go and when they want to go there.

But what sets the Marriott homepage apart is that it takes the next step in simplifying the user experience by clearly compartmentalizing its different features:

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As you can see, the site breaks up promotions, member information, and perks of booking on Marriott.com. It’s not that the site’s content is any simpler than that of Hilton, but Marriott has taken the next step in ensuring that the booking process is as seamless and straightforward as possible. Now, let’s see what we’re working with when I plan a trip to Rome:

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Whereas Marriott had the homepage advantage over Hilton, Hilton wins out when it comes to the booking portal. This design is simple enough, but the cluttered sidebar and excessive text may turn some users off. It could benefit Marriott to enlist the help of an online navigation system for their booking portal – nothing extreme, just a widget that will deter users from being confused by the sidebar. Nevertheless, booking your room through Marriott is an overall easy process, especially relative to other disastrous hotel websites.

Holiday Inn

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Simplicity reigns supreme! Holiday Inn understands what its users want – a simple, aesthetically pleasing, navigable site. Though I question the inclusion of their partners’ symbols at the top of the page, I can’t deny that this page is beautifully simple. What’s even more appealing is that the image you see above lasts for mere seconds before another similarly pleasant one appears.

And that’s not to mention the section of the homepage devoted exclusively to allowing users to imagine themselves in a Holiday Inn anywhere in the world:

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So we’ve been to Puerto Vallarta and we’ve been to Rome, now it’s time to make our way to Hawaii:

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As with Marriott, I have some issues with the sidebar used here. It comes off as a bit overwhelming when you first see the numerous filter options, and again an online navigation system may be beneficial for both Holiday Inn and its users. Minor problems aside, the overall user experience is simple and uncompromising on visual appeal. It’s easy to narrow your search with the filter widget, and best prices are presented front-and-center for those looking to not incur a debt from their vacation. From start to finish, Holiday Inn provides a relatively simple, smooth, and peaceful booking process.

These sites are leading the way in hotel website UX and usability. Imagining a vacation is easy work, but booking one can quickly turn into a nightmare. These three sites understand the need for simplicity in the booking process, with Hilton leading the charge in web-design and customer engagement. That said, Marriott and Holiday Inn aren’t far behind.

Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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