In physical retail stores, the typical shopping experience looks like this:
A customer strolls into a store and browses the shelves. When they spot something they likes, they stop and pick it up. After checking the price, they might read the description, flip the product over, and ask for an outside opinion.
All this is done in an attempt to answer the important question: Should they buy or not?
If feedback is good, they’ll buy. If not, they’ll take their money elsewhere.
So why am I telling you this?
Because when potential guests are browsing your hotel site, their decision making process is similar. The main difference, of course, is that your potential guest isn’t physically inspecting your hotel. Instead, they’re virtually checking out your hotel via your website.
Once your guest is interested, most of their “poking and prodding” will be done on your hotel gallery page. There, they’ll quickly form an overall picture of what staying at your hotel will be like.
If that picture hits the right buttons, they’ll probably stay with you. If it doesn’t, they’ll probably go look elsewhere.
So, below are 6 ways to boost engagement on your hotel gallery page by reducing friction, improving on-page experience, and painting a wonderful picture.
1. Let Your Guests Sell Themselves
Which of these two hotel images makes you feel more invited and accepted?
Or this one:
The second one, right? Why is that?
Because the picture nudges you in a specific direction of thought, and lets you fill in the blanks. It lets you paint a picture of being an accepted guest.
In a study by Robert Cialdini and Larry Gregory, a salesperson went door to door selling subscriptions to cable television.
The first sales pitch focused on the advantages of cable TV. Prospects were told that “it is cheaper and less hassle than going to a movie; you can spend more time with your family.”
The second pitch told prospects to…“take a moment and imagine how cable television will provide you with broader entertainment.” The results were dramatically different:
When pitched the advantages of TV, 19.5% of people subscribed. However, after asking people to imagine the advantages, 47.4% of people subscribed. Why? Self-generated persuasion.
Simply throwing up random images of your beds, conference tables, and rooms won’t cut it. Instead, aim to get your potential guests to imagine themselves:
- Wrapped snug and relaxed in your bed
- Getting nods of approval at a meeting
- Unwinding in a peaceful room after a fun day
Let them persuade themselves to come stay.
2. Tweak Gallery Page Loading Speed for Better Engagement
Gallery page loading speed is crucial, and it’s one of the lower hanging fruits for higher conversions.
Websites and gallery pages that load faster are proven to perform better. They have better engagement, stronger conversions, a friendlier user experience, and better search engine rankings.
Google does factor in site speed in page rank, but it’s a pretty low-ranking factor, and will only really affect you when other ranking signals are very similar or load time is very poor. Speed gets really important when you’re talking about user experience, though.
Research about gallery page loading speed and the effect it can have on conversions has been dramatic. It shows that 75% of consumers will leave for a competitor’s site to avoid dealing with delays.
As the amount of information on the internet multiplies exponentially, users’ attention spans drop. It’s becoming less and less likely that potential guests will be willing to wait around much longer than a few seconds for your pages to load.
Okay, we’ve covered the impact of your gallery’s page loading speed…but how exactly do you improve it?
Here are some steps you can take:
- Balance thumbnail size with load time required:
Having smaller thumbnails will let your page load faster, but of course if they’re too small your user won’t be able to see them well. Make them as small as possible while still being accessible to maximize page speed.
- “Lazy load” thumbnail images:
Only load the thumbnail images the user will actually see. Instead of loading all the thumbnails for the entire page, load the ones that are visible. Then, have the other images load as the user is scrolling through them.
- Have an opt-in for larger images:
Only load larger images as and when the user wants to view it – after they click on the thumbnail, for example.
- Modern coding and up-to-date plugins:
Modern coding techniques can reduce the amount of code needed to render your page, which will in turn increase page load speed.
If you’re not technically inclined, some of these can seem a bit tricky. Talk to your web design team or, if you’re the DIY type, check out Google Developers’ resources to get started.
Looking for more info on slashing your loading speed? Check out this great post by Ventureharbour.com
3. Create a Holistic Picture with 360° Rotating Images
DueMaternity is an online store retailing items for pregnant women and new mothers. When they added 360° rotating images to their product gallery, they boosted conversions by 27%. Prior to implementing rotating images, they used standard two-dimensional pictures, like the one below.
Your gallery page pictures show what you offer. When it comes to selling your hotel, that’s a lot of the heavy lifting.
This means the higher your photographic detail, depth and accuracy is…the better your conversions will be and the higher you’ll stand above your competition.
Rotating images give you that extra depth, detail and accuracy. Also, they help with the self-generated persuasion we talked about above.
4. Strategically Place Gallery Images for Maximum Impact
The structure and placement of your gallery pictures is important. Here are two proven tips for structuring your gallery page and the images on it:
Place Better Images Above The Fold
A web design study by the NN Group found that, when people view content below the fold, their attention nosedives faster than a bird stripped of its wings. The study summarized that:
“Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.”
(The “fold” describes the portion of a site that can be seen without scrolling down.)
Use the Serial Position Effect
In psychology, the serial position effect describes the tendency for people to remember–and pay attention to–the first and last items on a list. So how can it be useful for hoteliers?
Consider placing the most impactful pictures at the top and bottom of your gallery, with the less important ones in the middle.
5. Place Images of Your Guests In The Gallery
“A strong face as the primary means of greeting visitors gets a strong reaction that polarizes conversion rates.” (Flint McGlaughlin from MarketingExperiments)
When using images of your guests, think about the thoughts and stories your images will trigger. A happy, well-lit picture of your guests enjoying your hotel is worth a dozen staler pictures without guests. Aim to get your guest imagining himself in the picture.
Check out our in-depth guide on visual storytelling for more info.
6. Always Aim To Reduce Friction
Ever heard the marketing definition for friction?
According to Unbounce, friction is:
“The psychological resistance that your visitors experience when trying to complete an action. Friction is a conversion killer usually caused by unclear messaging, lack of information or poor layout.”
When it comes to boosting conversions, friction is something you should always aim to reduce.
Friction frustrates customers and dents conversions. It sinks its teeth into your bottom line. The less you have, the easier it is for your customer to take the action you want.
Reducing friction on your gallery page will boost engagement and conversions.
To reduce friction, you can start by:
- Reducing site loading speed with the tips above
- Using simple language when describing images
- Making your images easy to see: your visitor should be greeted by images. He shouldn’t have to search for them.
- Have a consistent color scheme
- Reduce visual noise with a clear design.
Your hotel gallery page plays an important role in the decision making process of potential guests.
A well-designed gallery page will help seduce guests. A messy, friction filled one will just scare them away. Use the tips above to help strengthen your hotel gallery page and tip the scales in your favour.
What’s your experience with gallery pages? If you’re looking for advice, we’ll be happy to help you.