Hotels have generally been slow to respond to the potential honey-pot of mobile-friendly bookings. Even though mobile search queries on Google overtook desktop in 2015, many brands still failed to set up mobile optimised sites.
As recent as 2014 is the first time global hotels accepting mobile bookings surpassed 50%.
Why mobile is so important
Hotels have been very good in establishing online distribution strategies for the most part, but are they missing a vital cog in their machine by not focusing enough on mobile-friendly bookings?
All the signs point to mobile becoming the majority shareholder of all online bookings before long. Consider these user statistics:
- 70% of consumers who own a smartphone have used it to research travel
- 40% of all visits to US travel sites in 2016 came from mobile devices
- 46% of travellers make their booking decision while researching with a mobile device
- 50% say their smartphone has led them to making more spontaneous decisions when searching travel or when on holiday
- 72% look for the most useful information, not specific brands
- 94% of travellers switch between devices
The lack of a mobile first approach is creating a cycle of lost revenue for hotels. Hotels are reluctant to spend money on serious website upgrades and shift their marketing to suit mobile devices.
Compounding this, is the enthusiasm travellers have for mobile search and bookings, and the frustration from coming across so many hotel sites that don’t treat mobile optimisation as a priority. With Euromonitor International forecasting mobile-friendly bookings and reservations to double by 2019 to go beyond 20%, this has to change.
Online travel agents will certainly take a mobile-first approach, providing 24/7 mobile travel service.
A mobile-friendly website is the first key step
Taking a lion’s share of the available mobile booking market means developing a hotel website that is optimised for guests browsing and booking on their smartphone.
Moving up Google’s search rankings is obviously a goal but this will largely take care of itself. The major desire for a hotel should be the user experience their website provides. A mobile website needs to be simple, clean, fast, and most importantly; responsive. Every user should be able to comfortably view and navigate a website, no matter what type of mobile device they are using.
A payment gateway that is optimised for mobile will help create a seamless mobile experience for customers and make it easier for the hotel to manage. A click-to-call button is also very important given 58% of travellers would be likely to contact the hotel directly if given the capability.
It’s understandable that some hotel managers and owners may feel intimidated by mobile technology and how to optimise it, but Google is already incorporating it into its search criteria rankings and hotels stand to lose out on a lot of traffic if they fail to become mobile-friendly.
Once a mobile-friendly website has been implemented hotels can begin to focus on using it to improve the hotel experience and potentially increase revenue. One example is to integrate your loyalty programs with your mobile platform or app.
The good thing is it’s very easy for hotel websites to become mobile-friendly. A smart and intuitive website builder will do all the work for you at a fraction of the cost of professional website designers. You can start by researching easy technology solutions, like Canvas or downloading our free guide to beautiful hotel website design.