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Mobile bookings: Is your hotel tapping into a captive audience?

  Posted in Mobile

By Hannah Milborrow, VP Product, SiteMinder

Look around you. How many people are busy scrolling through the latest headlines? How many people are zoned out listening to a playlist? And how many people are browsing for that bargain deal?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, it won’t come as a surprise to you that nomophobia – fear of being without a mobile device – is now a defined medical condition.

Research carried out by TecMark late last year found that in an average week users picked up their mobile more than 1,500 times. Over the course of a day, users on average racked up three hours and sixteen minutes of mobile phone use.

For the hotel and travel market, smartphones present a captive audience looking to escape the mundane routine of the everyday. Whether it’s reading hotel reviews, comparing promotion packages and prices, or checking availability, it’s increasingly being done on a mobile device.

Surprising statistics

Expedia Media Solutions recently explored the opportunity that smartphones and tablets present for hotels and travel companies, and the statistics are not only very encouraging for our industry, but surprising too.

Of the 156 million people in the US who actively engage with digital travel content, 90% of monthly website visitors are browsing using their smartphone or tablet.

Two thirds of all UK travel website visitors are exploring using a mobile device, and interestingly 25% have abandoned their desktop altogether, opting instead to browse travel content online exclusively via mobile.

Half of all U.S. travellers plan to book with a tablet device at some point during 2015, and a significant 29% plan to book on a smartphone – statistics that historically curve upwards every six months.

Keep it simple and user-friendly

Simplifying your guests’ mobile booking experience is key to positioning your hotel as a business that’s in tune with your customers’ needs.

Expedia’s research suggests that hotels working hard to perfect the mobile experience will unlock a great opportunity for future business. In the UK, 70% of those who successfully booked travel via a smartphone would do so again and in the US that figure rises to 80%.

Responsive website design, which changes how the screen behaves depending on the device being used, is the only way to ensure your website looks its best from wherever it’s being viewed.

As of April 21 it’s something that Google will be flagging up to mobile users as they search online. Not only will websites with a responsive design be placed higher in the list, a new piece of text will highlight a website in search results as ‘mobile friendly’. Google is billing the changes as “significant” for mobile users and it could mean big repeat business for your hotel if you nail the mobile booking experience.

Expedia’s statistics show that in both the US and the UK, alone, 90% of those who booked on a tablet device would happily go through the same process again. And let’s not forget about the Chinese traveller phenomenon. According to iResearch, in 2014, there were 648 million Internet users in China, including 560 million mobile users at growth rate of 11.4%. Surely these are opportunities that can’t be missed…