eVOC Insights conducts syndicated research, evaluating 10 different industry websites, to ascertain the leaders in brand affinity, user experience, and future call-to-action. For travel, eVOC Insights recruited 1000 respondents per industry to evaluate one of 10 sites in the lodging and cruise industries. Both providers (Celebrity, Carnival, Hilton, Holland America, Hyatt, Marriott, Norwegian, Princess, Sheraton, & Royal Caribbean) and online travel agencies (Booking.com, CruisesOnly, Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Priceline, & Travelocity) were included. In order to meet these objectives, each site is evaluated through a series questions regarding current brand affinity, ease of use, and likelihood to return after site experience.
Visual appeal of the homepage is key in enticing users to further explore the site and to return to the site in the future. Customers are often driven away by a site that is cluttered and interrupted by pop-ups. Strong hero images leave a lasting impression on users. Lodging customers respond positively to images of palms trees, swimming pools, and travel destinations, while cruise customers respond best to tropical locations and images of cruise ships.
Specifically, to assess homepage appeal, respondents were asked the following questions:
Respondents were also asked to rank the appeal of various aspects of the homepage, including photos/images, layout, colors used, etc.
Royal Caribbean’s site is very appealing, with attractive images and clear headers for customers to easily find information. Having an image of the cruise ship, as part of the main hero, is particularly enticing. Royal Caribbean’s home page also has clear links to current promotions and a prominent Quick Search window. In contrast, while Celebrity includes attractive images on their home page, they do not feature a cruise ship. Additionally, distracting popups and unfamiliar terminology deter potential customers.
MOST APPEALING HOME PAGE
“The ocean background is soothing and appealing. It is not too busy and is easy to pick out pieces of information.”
LEAST APPEALING HOME PAGE
“Right off the bat, there’s a booking section which covers up most of the picture, then a few seconds later, there’s a pop up to sign up for specials. That’s not only annoying, but very intrusive.”
Hyatt’s old site included an image of man at a piano, which was not very appealing to users—Hyatt came in 9th place for home page appeal in Wave 1. By Wave 2, Hyatt had redesigned its home page and included an appealing image of a swimming pool in the tropics and included promotional offers with the scrolling images, subsequently boosting its ranking to 3rd place.
“It looked depressing with the guy and the piano.”
“Homepage is very professional and upscale looking, but I can’t really relate to it.”
“Nice pictures, good-looking site, clear and it is easy to find what you are looking for on this site”
Key qualities of a strong hero image and homepage include:
Winning home pages include attractive images and clear headers for customers to easily find pertinent information. Having an image that is relevant to the content, as well as fun and captivating (e.g. cruise ship, topical destination) as part of the main hero, is particularly enticing. The best home pages also have clear links to current promotions and a prominent Quick Search.