Site stand-off: Bellagio vs Caesar’s Palace

Site stand-off, User experience, User journey, Web design

Las Vegas is Disneyland for those who want a strictly over 21s atmosphere and aren’t too keen on Mickey Mouse anymore. With millions of visitors every year and so many hotels to suit every budget there is a lot of competition on the main stripĀ as they fight for customers.

What better hotels to choose from for our site stand-off than the iconic Bellagio located in the centre of the strip versus Caesars Palace which is frequently featured in the media, most notably in The Hangover film series. We will look at the customer journey online from the home page through to booking a room, looking in particular at the user experience. Furthermore, we want to look at how their websites stand up against each other.

Booking a hotel room should be quick, easy and intuitive so let’s see if these two luxury Las Vegas hotels live up to their reputation with their website and if they’ve paid as much attention to their user experience online as they have to their user experience in person.

Bellagio

The user is immediately presented with a preloader in the hero area.

Bellagio hotel home page

It takes a good 6 seconds for the content to load which is far too long. When the video has loaded there’s a 14 second montage of their spectacular Bellagio foundations, which whilst a huge unique selling point, their users have undoubtably moved on to another page, or worse have left the site entirely.

Users would be more likely to wait for the video had there been an image of their fountains in this section whilst the video loads to give the user context of what they’re about to watch. Better yet, this space would be better utilised with a booking form to push users straight away to make an inquiry.

One nice feature is upon clicking the navigational item “Make a reservation” and then on “Hotel” users can input their date of arrival, length of their stay and the number of guests in their party.

Bellagio hotel make a reservation

However, this functionality is too deep and lost within the navigation as users have to make 2 separate clicks to get to this point. The calendar also allows for the selection of dates in the past. When “Check Rates” is clicked users are taken to a new tab to book through the MGM booking system. This feels rather disjointed.

From this stage user are asked to select their room but in order to find any details out about it they have to click on a link for “View FloorPlan” and then click on “Description” within the pop up.

Bellagio hotel booking page

Alternatively, they can switch back to the Bellagio website and navigate to “Explore Bellagio” where there is a much more detailed description of the room including various images and the amenities it provides. Why can this not be available on the pop up from the bookings page? This could be a great push to convince users to part with their money, and particularly could be used to upsell them to a more expensive suite.

The booking page is slightly better.

Bellagio hotel booking form

The form is easy to fill out, although certain inputs are not necessary if users aren’t a US customer it would be better to only show these fields once they have entered their country. A review of the booking can be clearly seen although the total price doesn’t stand out in any way against the room sub-total and it is unclear whether the deposit is included in this. Additionally, there is no differentiation between the main call to action “Continue” and the secondary call to action “Change Selection”. One nice touch though is the sentence notifying users that “You will have an opportunity to review your information” so users know that the action for continue, in this case, will not complete their payment.

Caesars Palace

The home page has a very clear, price focused message although users are first blocked from entering the site from a pop up detailing 25% off room rates, which is the same message repeated everywhere.

Caesars Palace home page

Whilst the focus is clear, the page is also very cluttered and the logo and primary call to actions get lost. There are 6 rotational banners in the hero area which rotate too quickly to read anything and dilute the overall messaging as they all shout about various different selling points. It would be better to keep one overall theme in the hero area and continue to use the space down the rest of the page to sell their other promotions and restaurants.

There is a form in the hero area for users to book a room. Within this there is a drop down list of other Caesars Entertainment Corporation owned hotels so users wouldn’t have to navigate to other sites and it also helps to convey a large, reputable brand. Furthermore the call to action “Check best rates” above a “Best rate guarantee” link helps to push the value messaging.

Users are taken to a new domain for total rewards in a similar way to that of the user journey on the Bellagio website. A new tab isn’t opened but the design is noticeably different from the Caesar’s Palace home page so it feels just as disjointed and some users may find this confusing.

The green call to actions to “book now” stand out well and users can easily compare rooms against each other to help me make a decision to book a more expensive room. It isn’t clear however how much the total price is for their stay as they’re only immediately shown the average price per night. To find this out users have to click on a pop up but even then it only states the subtotal which is rather confusing.

Caesars Palace booking page

Users can also view information about and see images of each room. Again, the green call to actions really stand out on this page and help to guide through to the next step.

Caesars Palace booking page info

Users are taken to a summary page before they can continue on to the checkout. This is a rather unnecessary step particularly as the summary appears above the input fields on the checkout page anyway.

The checkout form is quite long but easy to fill out as autofill is allowed. Inline validation is provided as soon as incorrect details are entered so they can be amended immediately.

Winner

Whilst both of these websites have their flaws, Caesars Palace offers the better online user experience. The process is intuitive with clear call to action buttons and a strong sense of value alongside quality. Some steps could be condensed, a more obvious overall price and a more streamlined and consistent design would contribute to higher conversion rates.

The Bellagio hotel has an incredible customer experience when people visit it but unfortunately this isn’t conveyed in their digital offering. They could make some major improvements, particularly to the information that is presented for each of their rooms on the booking page which would help to convince users to continue with their booking.

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