By John Giannatose-commerce and Hotel Websites
A scientific overview of color branding in web design, focused on the Hotel Industry

A hotel website is not something different from an e-commerce website which sells products. However, what is different is that instead of dealing with multiple products (like Ebay or Amazon) it deals with a single product.
It is also well known, that people “select and purchase” based on feelings, and then justify their decision with logic.
The connection between colors and feelings is probably the most simple and profound thus it seems reasonable that color influences mood.
Think about how people usually feel watching a glorious sunset or seeing the deep blue Mediterranean Sea for the first time.
What we present in our website is what we have to “sell”, and this varies from one hotel to another. For example, a hotel in downtown Berlin may sell business accommodation, and a hotel in Bali may sell leisure and luxury vacations. Moreover, the location of a hotel can sometimes be defined and promoted through the use of color. For instance, a hotel on Santorini, in Greece is more likely to “sell” the magnificent view of the black rock and volcano, while a hotel in Switzerland, the gorgeous scenery of the snowy white foothill of the Alps .
This color will symbolize your product and the area colors will act as a great identifier. According to what the particular character of the hotel promotes, and what the location represents, a hotel website must present the appropriate colors, which are linked to the location or the services.

The subconscious of the average visitor to a site immediately links the colors used on the website, with the location or based on the experience he is going to have if he books the accommodation. Thus on a Greek island with an array of vibrant colors, the range of colors on the hotel website should follow the colors of nature, the scenery and the general environment. The same can be said for a hotel close to the vast Sahara desert, where eye-catching colors such as golden and yellow are usually used in description or flaming red to describe a hotel in the Grand Canyon.

This is a game of the mind where humans according to research, tend to group patterns of communication with particular colors, smells, noises etc. For example, imagine a deep pool that is blood red instead of turquoise or brilliant blue. There is no need to carry out a social psychology experiment to discover that this pool will have fewer swimmers, if any at all, than the inviting blue pool which will be associated with the ocean.
Time Scales in User Experience

Visitors to a hotel website need as little as 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second), according to Canadian researcher Dr. Gitte Lindgaard . This is enough time for a web visitor to make a judgment of a web site’s “visual appearance”. Thus, the design and appearance of a website and its use of color terms, most certainly influences a visitor’s judgment of its perceived credibility and its usability, and ultimately affects his/her decisions of purchasing. This is why website Color is important. It affects how we feel, our perceptions, and our interactions.
Just as people, need a few seconds to “like” or “not like” each other, (the Halo Effect) it is the same with a website where first impression play a vital role.
Science behind Marketing

Following those principals and willing to see this aspect under a scientific eye, we used some hi-tech math software which exports the average color of the main page of a website. In order to keep standard conditions for this research, we saved the main screen of the main page of any website and we didn’t take into account the scroll down page.Our methodology was to find first, the dominant color in a bitmap. We used Euclidean distance calculations for each color-channel per pixel, we sorted the pixels to find the color which is the closest to all other colors and then, using Gaussian elimination we computed to a single color, the Average color of an image.

Here are some of the results:

Avg Color
Astra Suites Santorini
Imerovigli – Santorini
As you can see here, the AVG color of Astra Suites on Santorini represents exactly the character of the area
Mystique Resort
Santorini – Greece
Despite the shades of brown colors which have to do with the design, the selection of the image makes the average color to represent the Blue of Santorini
Saint John
Mykonos – Greece
The same for Saint John Hotel on Mykonos which gives exactly the color character of the Island.
Coca Cola
Color is considered important for brand recognition and the now familiar Coca-Cola red, remains a highly important component of this classic design.

As we can see in the above table, the selection of the main photos and the layout components do not destroy the basic color of the “product.” The color blue represents the sea which is the main product for the brand of Santorini and a major portion of its economy. The Red color is the branded color of Coca-Cola and it’s quite obvious that the design of the site follows the right marketing rules.

Below we will see some other examples from all-over the world:
Avg Color
Casci Hotel Floence
Florence – Italy
The Casci Hotel in Florence is another example of a web design which respects the colors of Florence. Because the RGB example was not clear, I posted also the CMYK palette where you see the domination of Yellow.
Grand Hyatt
Indonesia – Bali
We are not sure that the average color represents what we have in mind about Bali.
Enagron Traditional Houses
Rethymno – Crete – Greece
The average color represents 100% the environment of the mount of Psiloritis, which is the highest and most sacred mountain of Crete in Greece.
Xenia Palace Portaria
Pelion – Greece
This color seems to be gray but if you notice, the green and the red are likely the closest colors of Pelion which is an area of high vegetated mountains. Pelion is a known winter destination.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas – USA
The color represents a neutral character of a Casino hotel in Las Vegas
Bellagio Hotel
Las Vegas – USA
Both MGM and Bellagio use their website to provide an entertainment character.
Grand Canyon Squiregrand Canyon – USA
What color do you think of when you hear the Grand Canyon mentioned?Another example of a design following the colors of the area.
Radisson Blu Athens Park Hotel
Here is a Special case where this five star hotel provides the purple color as a brand color, based on the concept “Urban Nature” which lanced two years ago.

After those good eight examples, I will try to show you some inappropriate cases where the design does not follow any geographic, or brand policy and it is left to the arbitrary decision of the web designer.

…The inappropriate cases

Avg Color
Radisson Blu Resort FijiDenarau Island – Fiji
For those who know RGB colors, the 125, 125, 123 is the absolute Grey. This is a wrong case since the colors of Danarau Island in Fiji is turquoise – blue.
Pyramisa Suites
Cairo – Egypt
Does this average color on the left remind you of Cairo or the Pyramids?
The two examples above are a sample of colors not connected to the product or the area.
In the case of the Pyramisa Hotel, I did not find any information on why the whole website is red, or any other information about the selection of the color. I assume this was just an arbitrary selection of the hotel management. The external area of the hotel is Here
In the case of the Radisson, the reason is that the Resort is obligated by the chain to host their website inside their main website. This is a policy of Radisson which of course is respected, however the centralized character of this management doesn’t denote the beauty of the area and this is of course, goes against Internet sales. If you want to see how the Danarau Island compares, click Here

We have to consider that color associations may vary individually and especially as a result of culture, it is also advantageous for some brands such as Coca-Cola, to consistently “own” certain colors, which provide a particular recognition cue. Therefore, in the hotel industry, the area in most cases is a superior brand than the hotel.

Color is an important consideration in a brand identity system and a brand identity, 90% of the cases in hotels, is the location, or the season the hotel operates (winter hotels may use winter schema, rather than summer resorts which use the associated colors).

Following those principals and presenting your hotel in harmony with the area and the environment, you do not only produce a better brand, but you encourage visitors to become buyers since they have the ability to feel the experience they are going to have during their stay at your hotel.

The main energy that keeps man alive is light (color) energy. The physiology of color is the process that takes place during visual perception. And the psychology of color includes the sensation our brains create out of our perceptions.

John Giannatos