Mobile is a hot topic and an incredibly important channel this year. I recently read an interesting article, Speed is Key for Retaining Mobile Site Users, Says Google, on travelweekly.co.uk. The article discusses the importance of speed on mobile sites. “Customers now have a greater expectation that sites will load fast, and have less patience with those that don’t.” Speed is undoubtedly crucial to keeping visitors engaged with your mobile site, but what are the other “need to knows” for hoteliers to leverage mobile properly?
Why you need a mobile website
Why does my hotel even need a mobile site? It’s a common question that I hear hoteliers ask. Basically, if you don’t have a mobile optimized hotel website, you are missing a large audience of travelers. Here are some of the many reasons why hotels need to optimize their websites for mobile hotel shoppers:
- 57% of US business travelers and 38% of leisure travelers reported using mobile devices to access travel information in 2012 ( Google and Ipsos Media CT’s)
- 61% of customers who visit a mobile unfriendly site are likely to leave and go to a competitor’s site (googlemobileads.blogspot.ca)
- Mobile search has grown 400% in the last year (Adworkshop.com)
How travelers use mobile
Although travelers use their Smartphones throughout all the shopping journey stages, they particularly focus on research. “Nearly half (47%) of all 2012 travel plans began on a Smartphone” (bazaarvoice.com). Therefore, you need to make sure that all of the information a guest may need to know is available on your mobile website.
Smartphone users are not patient; they are busy, active people who want chunks of information quickly and are not willing to search through pages of your mobile website to find what they are looking for. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are “on the go” (as many marketers believe), they are also using their phones while “killing time,” for example, while commuting to and from work on the train or waiting for an appointment. The average iPhone user spends 2:31 minutes on a site compared to 4 minutes on a regular desktop (webperformacetoday.com). This reinforces the need to have high quality photos and easily readable buttons on your landing page to capture their attention quickly.
How to convert lookers to bookers on mobile
We know travelers are using mobile devices for hotel research, but how can you drive them to book?
Make booking easy. A good mobile website experience goes a long way. The obvious point here is to have “book now” links on each page of your site that launch your mobile optimized booking engine.
Be accurate, be quick, be visual. Make sure your site includes multi-media so lookers can truly understand your value proposition. Visuals must be accurate and load quickly. Consumers are not going to wait for them to load. It is an absolute MUST that your mobile website is optimized so that the pictures and text fit the mobile screen perfectly, avoiding the terrible “pinch and zoom” effect.
Offer unique deals. Offers that target the consumer on different devices can be a great way to drive people to book on your mobile website.
The Georgian Terrace Hotel’s mobile website is a good example of these three elements. Visit thegeorgianterrace.com from a Smartphone to check it out.
In order to capitalize on the mobile channel, hoteliers need to know how to keep the consumer on their site and have the right information readily available. By having a mobile optimized website with accurate text and photos that load quickly, an optimized booking engine and special offers for the mobile user, hotels can take advantage of this growing channel.
To find out how your website measures up to mobile optimization best practices, download our checklist: Make a Move in Mobile Marketing: A Total Optimization Checklist.