Consumers are increasing the need for mobile travel websites. In 2011, mobile leisure gross bookings for hotels reached almost $2.6 billion in the U.S, representing 2.4% of the U.S online travel market. According to a recent PhoCusWright report, among U.S mobile users, 36% of business travelers and 26% of leisure travelers have used a mobile website or app to book a travel product in the past year.
In the United Kingdom, 11% of smartphone users purchased travel services during the past year, according to a survey from eDigitalResearch and Interactive Media in Retail Group. In addition to this, 30% of smartphone users have used their smartphones to browse for vacations and tickets.
In February of 2012 there was a huge rise in bookings for mobile, bookings tripled and it is believed that this is because of hotels’ recent multi-pronged marketing efforts. PhoCusWright did another survey that found more business and leisure travelers who use an iPhone will book travel arrangements through the mobile web than Android and Blackberry users. IPad’s are a whole other story, since the first iPad launched bookings have surpassed mobile phones in regards to business and leisure travel bookings.
So, these studies tell us that consumers are using their smartphones for booking hotel accommodations. But, according to a Google/OTX study consumers are using their mobile phones for more than just booking – they are using them during the other stages of travel shopping up to and including the Point of Decision. According to Google in 2011, 51% of business travelers and 27% of leisure travelers used their mobile phones for travel information during the planning stages. Mobile travel shoppers want relevant and timely information at every stage of the travel shopping journey. This is important to keep in mind when hoteliers create their mobile websites.
So, what does this mean for hoteliers? Well, first of all make sure a mobile website is top priority this year. Not only that, but make sure it includes the relevant and visually engaging content consumers find on your standard website. A mobile site stripped of features found on your standard website is not what consumers are looking for. And, make sure that navigation is friendly to the “fingers and thumbs” approach consumers use with Smartphones.
It is important for marketers to reach travel consumers at all stages of shopping including activities that lead the consumer to both point of decision and point of sale.
Make it easy for hotel shoppers using mobile phones to explore your hotel with rich narrative and visual content and book with their smartphones. You want your mobile site to be focused on point of decision and point of purchase, by making this easy for travel shoppers the affects will be endless.
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