Travel websites rely on their design, imagery, and vivid copy to convert visitors into customers.
Much has been written about the importance of engaging copy for a travel brand, but the overall design and user-experience of a travel site is often the deciding factor for a customer.
A well-designed website inspires trust from your visitors and is directly correlated to the credibility of your site.
People will book the holidays you are selling, only if they trust your brand and your website.
Web design is often a crucial factor for determining the trustworthiness and credibility of your site.
Studies suggest that almost 94% of people mistrust websites due to poor design.
Travel sites come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to web design.
It’s understood that the needs of a travel site promoting a city, or a country are going to be vastly different from those of a website selling cruise packages or offering hotel bookings.
It’s quite challenging to identify the right design elements for a travel website as it largely depends on the businesses products and target audience.
There are some crucial elements which are often associated with travel sites, such as:
- Information about highlights at a destination (local attractions)
- High-quality photos
- Hotel recommendations
- Information necessary for travelling such as maps, public transportation info and guides
- Tips related to the local language, culture, and etiquettes
- A summary of the destination with a list of all popular tourist attractions
Almost all travel websites have some or all the design elements listed above.
In addition to these items, we have identified some intangible factors which are a must-have for any travel site.
So, let’s see what the crucial elements are for designing a stellar travel website.
In today’s world of multiple connected devices, consumers are spending more and more time on smartphones, and mobile devices play an increasingly important role in the process of booking travel packages.
Most travellers today use their smartphones, and tablets for browsing destinations, comparing various tour packages and even for booking the package.
It’s not uncommon to come across travel brands which don’t have responsive sites, which means that browsing on a mobile device is much more complicated.
If you don’t have a responsive website which can serve the same information across multiple devices in an aesthetically pleasing manner, then you are at risk of losing out customers to your competitors.
Visit Stockholm is the official site of the city of Stockholm which has done a great job of designing a mobile-optimised website.
The above image shows how their site looks on a typical desktop.
The picture below is a screenshot taken from a mobile which shows their mobile site.
As you can see, they have listed 4 areas covering Dining, Recreation, Guides, and Events at the top section of each version of their site.
After this comes some articles covering things to do in Stockholm. The site is responding to the dimensions of the device to serve content in a logical order.
Several other travel brands have similar responsive websites which are optimised for mobile users.
Use a Content Management System (CMS)
No modern travel brand can maintain an online presence without using some form of Content Management System.
It’s a good idea to build your website using an open-source content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, for several reasons.
A content management system gives you greater control over all the aspects of your website. You can edit, or modify any page, article or post on the site without any help from a website designer.
Content management systems also allow you to easily integrate visual and graphic content such as photos and videos without coding.
CMS’ like WordPress also have a vast library of both free and paid plugins which can automate any task you want. This allows you to take advantage of the work of
High-Resolution Photos and Videos
Travel brands have long known the power of high-quality images which can provide a glimpse into the experience which a traveller may have by booking a tour package or visiting a destination.
Even before the era of modern technology, most travel companies used high quality and enticing images in their marketing brochures.
Modern-day technologies have opened new avenues for travel brands as now it’s possible to use images along with videos.
Soon, prospective travellers will be able to experience their destination virtually before embarking on a journey with the help of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.
High-resolution images and videos are an essential part of any well-designed travel site as they offer a glimpse of the experience and are often the main selling point of any tour package.
Visit Brasil, the official tourism site of Brazil is an excellent example of how to use high-resolution photos for inspiring travellers to visit. Brazil offers some of the best attractions for tourists including Amazon Rainforests, Beaches on the Atlantic, mountain ranges etc.
Though we must not forget that Brazil is a vast country and a tourist is often confused when it comes to choosing one tourist attraction in the country over another.
Visit Brasil welcomes visitors with a beautiful image on their homepage as displayed below:
As you can see the above picture is accompanied with a prominent call to action and a visitor can get more information about Serra da Canastra by clicking on the ‘Read’ button below the main call to action.
You will come across several smaller images when you scroll down the page. These provide a glimpse into various places of interest within the country.
In the above image, this site combines the power of words with striking images in a beautiful way.
The pictures of different destinations are accompanied by small copy along with the duration and number of destinations.
Above image covers some more destinations and gives visitors the option to discover all destinations within Brazil by clicking on “See all destinations” button.
Many small travel brands make the mistake of overlooking the importance of cohesive branding.
Today a brand must maintain contact with a customer across several channels and marketing mediums including, social media profiles, email newsletters, websites, and landing pages.
You need to ensure that your brand has consistent branding across all customer touchpoints.
This will make your brand appear professional and will also allow customers to quickly identify your business without effort.
Today’s consumers want to purchase with minimal effort, and this has put minimal design with ease of navigation back at the centre of the web design industry.
Travel brands need to be especially careful when it comes to website navigation as even a few unnecessary clicks may push your customers away from you.
Several travel sites have perfected their design and have become quite successful by using an easy to navigate web interface. TripAdvisor is an excellent example of a travel brand using easy navigation.
For more information, you may read our earlier TripAdvisor Review, which discusses all the aspects of this hugely popular travel planning site.
TripAdvisor homepage as displayed in the above image has an easy to navigate interface allowing you to research hotels, things to do, restaurants, flights, holiday rentals, and cruises related to the destination of your choice.
All you need to do is to select the destination which you want to visit by clicking on the ‘Where to?’ button displayed on the homepage, and the site will give you all relevant information for your destination.
We have selected Istanbul in Turkey for our small test, and this is what TripAdvisor serves us:
As you can see from the above images, a visitor to TripAdvisor can browse tons of information about a destination by just selecting the destination.
TripAdvisor allows you to research hotels, restaurants, food tours, popular tourist attractions in a city by only a few clicks.
Many travellers know that TripAdvisor is one of the most comprehensive travel sites out there, but few know that they are mostly successful due to their website design.
Use Interactive Maps and Guides
Tourists prefer interactive maps and guides over old 2-d maps, which require a lot of effort to navigate through a city or destination.
Modern technological innovations allow travel brands to easily integrate interactive maps and guides which provide much more information to travellers than the plain paper-based maps and guides of yesterday.
Easy and Secure Booking System
The booking system also plays a crucial role in the success of any travel site as a difficult to navigate booking system is often the main reason for abandoned carts.
Most e-commerce sites have consciously made their booking process easy over the last couple of years, and travel sites are no exception to this trend.
Booking.com is a prime example of how a travel brand can build an easy and secure booking system.
Here is a screenshot of their homepage:
You will be asked to select a location along with your check-in and check-out dates. We have chosen Istanbul again to compare how this site works.
Here is what it shows once we input the destination along with the dates:
You also have the option to filter the hotels based on several filters such as your budget; breakfast included, book without credit card, apartments, hotels, star rating, distance from city, centre, fun things to do etc. as shown in the image below:
Booking.com makes the process of booking your hotel quite easy by having a well-designed booking system which allows you to get the best deals with minimal effort.
Several travel brands have incorporated planning tools such as calendars, maps, into their design, and this has ensured their popularity among travellers.
TripAdvisor is primarily a site offering travel planning services, although they are known mainly as a review site focused on travel brands.
A person is going to come across TripAdvisor at several stages of their travel planning as most people read reviews of hotels, check flights, local attractions and best possible time to visit a destination through TripAdvisor.
Almost all the sites discussed above offer information about destinations which is sought by nearly every traveller before embarking on a journey.
Official tourism promotion sites such as Visit Brasil, review or travel planning websites such as TripAdvisor, or booking sites such as Booking.com all provide valuable information about destinations.
This is also the secret behind the success of these sites as a traveller often buys their flight tickets or book their hotel through the website which has provided him information about the destination.
By providing information about destinations free of cost, these sites are essentially increasing their revenue and profits.
Call to actions motivates users to take advantage of exclusive deals and are often the deciding factor due to the psychological effect which they have on a person while he is making a purchase.
You can significantly boost your conversion rate by incorporating call to actions in your website’s design at appropriate places.
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