Your Hotel Website May Be Broken On Tablets

By Brandon Dennis VP of Marketing, | October 27, 2013

At this point in 2013, I don’t need to convince anyone that tablets are a crucial marketing channel for hotels. This year we learned that 40% of tablet users earn over $100,000 a year, and that nearly 60% of hotel mobile website visits come from tablets —not smartphones. For the first time ever, Q2 of this year saw tablets eclipse desktop computers as the preferred device to make purchases from. This data suggests that many tablet users are affluent travelers who like making purchase decisions on their tablets, which begs the question—are our hotel websites tablet optimized?

It’s tempting to nail smartphone optimization and think we’re done with it. After all, tablet screens are large, making it easier to navigate traditional websites on them than from smartphones. However, there are hotel website quirks that are incompatible with tablets, which, when seen, cause the affluent tablet user to “bounce” away and go to a competitor.

The following are common website characteristics incompatible with tablets. How do your hotel websites measure up?

Mouse-over Effects

Rollover or mouse-over effects are seen when the guest hovers his mouse pointer over an object. These could be messages, like image titles, or even navigation elements, like sub-menus that fly out when you hover over a navigation link, or links that only reveal themselves when you hover over them and they change color. Tablet users never experience these hover events because they don’t have mice. You can’t “hover-tap”.
Hover events must be removed from hotel websites, especially if they are part of the website’s primary navigation. Any website functionality tied to the mouse is inherently incompatible with tablets, and makes the website less useful or tablet users, who must be able to quickly understand where on the site they can find the info they’re looking for. Hover-events make this much more difficult to do.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.