Your Hotel Website May Be Broken On Tablets

By Brandon Dennis VP of Marketing, Cloudbeds.com | 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.

Modal Windows

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.