Driving Hotel Bookings Through Mobile Channels and The Phone Renaissance
By Ryan Fitzgerald Co-Founder, Net Conversion | October 20, 2013
Last year, Google Travel found that 25 percent of all online searches for travel came from a mobile device. eMarketer predicts that this figure will jump up to 40 percent by the end of 2013. In fact, HeBS, a New York-based agency, found that 39.5 percent of all online traffic came from either a smartphone or a tablet during their first quarter this year for various hotels they manage across North America.(1)
People are already choosing to search on their mobile devices over a desktop computer in locations where both devices are likely available to them (work or home).2 It's no surprise that 56 percent of American adults are smartphone owners;3 however, with their limited time, attention span and screen space, hoteliers have to adapt, taking any friction out of the equation, and make the website experience seamless and easy-to-navigate for mobile users. PhoCusWright estimates mobile revenue should reach 20 percent of online travel dollars in the U.S. by the end of next year, when mobile bookings reach $25.8 billion.(1)
How Does Your Website Measure Up?
Let's begin by reviewing the many types of mobile websites:
- Mobile-friendly sites are the standard version of websites that function normally on all mobile phones (e.g. no Flash elements, which aren't capable with iPhones), but don't be confused by their title because these mobile sites are not always friendly for your business. All of the content is listed, but there is often a need to pinch and zoom to navigate the site. Images are too small to provide an enriched experience, there is too much copy/content and files and images and videos aren't optimized for mobile bandwidth.
- Mobile-optimized sites are specifically designed for users on a mobile phone. They can be a dedicated version of a website specifically designed for mobile, or a responsive design that adjusts the layout and content of the site to match the website visitor's device (computer vs. tablet vs. phone). The key is that visitors receive a customized experience and further, we can develop and track specific conversion expectations and metrics for these consumers. There are two types of mobile optimized sites:
a) Dedicated-mobile sites offer specific content and call-to-actions based off the type of device you're on when viewing the site. For example, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board has a dedicated-mobile website featuring easy-to-use drop down navigation, large clickable icons and social connection buttons
b) Mobile-responsive sites are the best kind of website to have in this constantly evolving digital world as they create a consistent user experience regardless of the device (desktop, tablet, mobile). Grand Canyon Railway 's website automatically adjusts based on the size of the browser to offer users the best content possible with the allotted space. Once the screen drops down below tablet size, the booking engine is replaced with a phone number to easily contact the railway and hotel for a reservation.