This past year, we saw the rise of mobile, as travel shoppers constantly shifted between devices and channels to research travel online. For the first time, hotel-related travel inquiries fell on PCs but rose on tablets by 180% and on mobile by 68%.
Mobile devices continue to grow in significance, especially in the hospitality industry. In fact, in 2010, Steve Jobs predicted that tablets would eventually take over PCs. In 2015, his prediction will become true. Mobile travel inquiries continue to grow as shoppers use mobile to research and book hotels, with analysts predicting that by 2017, mobile travel sales in the U.S. will reach $55.47 billion.
What does this mean for hoteliers and e-marketers who want to have a strong presence in the mobile marketplace? It demands that hotels reach and engage travel shoppers who are constantly switching between mobile, tablet and PC for their travel inquiries with mobile-optimized websites.
The Importance of a Mobile Website
Today’s travel shoppers expect a consistent experience when they visit your hotel website via their smartphone or tablet – they want to clearly see the things they care the most about (photos of your rooms and restaurants are the two most viewed images on travel websites) and they want to find the information they need, fast – such as maps, directions, your contact info, and, of course, a link to your direct booking engine.
If your hotel website isn’t mobile optimized, then travel shoppers will quickly leave and visit another site – the latest statistics show as many as 61% of mobile users abandon non-mobile optimized websites for a competitor’s.
Mobile-optimized websites ensure travel shoppers are able to access your hotel efficiently while browsing on a mobile device, which many hotels, from large brands like the Best Western and the Marriott to small or independent properties, have implemented. The difference between a mobile optimized site and a non-mobile optimized site can often mean the difference between securing a book and not.
The rise of mobile also alludes to another key trend that hotel marketing experts are keeping their eyes on for 2015, and that’s the blurring lines between business and leisure travelers, also known as “Bleisures.”
These travelers mix business and leisure, whether that means conducting business on leisure trips or extending business for leisure time. The growing popularity of mobile devices makes it easier than ever before to do so. And today’s employers know that, which is why 37% of managers expect their employees to check email while on vacation and 34% of leisure travelers check work email and/or voicemail while on vacation. Not only is mobile an important tool for travel research and inspiration, it’s also what many of today’s professionals rely on to get their jobs done.
Mobile has made it easier for this class of traveler, because now your office is in your pocket. While today’s workers may physically leave the office, they often don’t digitally leave the office. Work comes calling – literally.
Why This Matters to Hoteliers
Every year at Leonardo, we publish our digital marketing predictions for the upcoming year and when our 2015 eBook comes out in a few short weeks, we’re predicting that mobile will continue to surpass expectations in 2015, which presents hoteliers with a big opportunity.
Hoteliers who recognize the changing habits of their prospective guests and include this in their online marketing strategy will be rewarded.
Consider properties like the Somerset Inn who implemented a mobile website and saw a 32% increase in website views within six months. Properties can take this a step further by offering unique special offers to travel shoppers who book from a mobile device.
As 2014 starts to come to a close, it’s vital that we look back on what changed and what to expect for 2015, and our eyes are on the continued importance of mobile as a valuable tool for hoteliers to share their hotel story, amplify it to reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive bookings.
Is your hotel maximizing mobile? See how your hotel compares using this Mobile Checklist.