Measure Hotel Reservations Through Increased Mobile Bookings

By Frank Vertolli Co-Founder, Net Conversion | May 04, 2014

Consumers are shifting to using their mobile devices to call hotels and travel destinations to book due to the amount of friction in the booking process. Consumers are finding it easier to call to book rather than trying to use their cell phone's mobile booking applications, to search for the accommodations they desire and punch in their credit card information. The measurability of mobile bookings gives the hotelier the opportunity to build a relationship with the consumer by having a human voice connect with them.

In 2013 the growth in mobile bookings was staggering, while traditional reservations continue to lose ground. Visits from mobile devices accounted for 31 percent of all website traffic in Q4 2013, according to the Walker Sands Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report(1).

Online marketing campaigns were generating a 5% click-to-call conversion rate. Booking on the web has been encouraged by the likes of Hotwire, Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity. Hoteliers, looking to reduce costs, assuming that call centers were the more expensive option pushed their customers to book online through third parties. This was convenient, but the loss of revenue is astounding with hoteliers paying upwards of a 25% commission average on each of these bookings. The solution is to target mobile devices and double click to call to 10% based on the conversion rate.

"Mobile purchasing has become an increasingly large trend in travel, given that more than half of Americans now own smartphones," said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire Group(2).

This year, mobile bookings are expected to reach $26 billion in the U.S., according to Neha Parikh, U.S. and Canada president and general manager with Expedia's Hotels.com.(5).

Consumers are shifting to using their mobile devices to call hotels and travel destinations to book due to the amount of friction in the booking process. What's friction? Let's say that a consumer is trying to book a hotel room using a mobile device while they are traveling. The hurdles of fumbling with credit cards and small screens on cell phones and tablets can be frustrating. They might be driving, or riding on a train, or waiting for a plane or sitting at a Starbucks.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.