It has now been ten years since the revelation of the first smartphone and it’s fair to say that these devices have changed our lives irrevocably. They contain more computing power than could even be dreamt about in the 1980s, they allow us to get online wherever we are and they open up a wealth of information at the push of a button.
According to Statista, there are approximately two billion users of such devices across the globe, while Cisco expects smartphone traffic to exceed that from PCs by 2020, pushing the latter down to just a 29 per cent share. Meanwhile, traffic from wireless and mobile devices is likely to account for two-thirds of traffic in three years’ time. As a result, the face of the internet is changing – and that means big changes for the travel industry too. Gone are the days when people had to fire up a PC in the corner to complete a hotel reservation system ; now, they can get out their phone as they watch TV and browse potential accommodation.This requires alterations to the ways in which brands work, as they now need to ensure their websites are going to be compatible with all these mobile devices if they are to avoid missing out on vital revenue and bookings.Indeed, according to Netbiscuits, three-quarters of people won’t even try using a website from their phone that hasn’t been optimised, even if that company might have been perfect for them.
If that’s your hotel, it means a competitor could snap up what should have been easy money for your company. What’s more, a recent change to Google’s algorithms means mobile-friendliness is now included as a ranking signal, which significantly altered search and led to sites that aren’t compatible being pushed down the results pages.It means that hotels might need to think a bit more carefully about their website design – and if you haven’t got round to ensuring mobile optimisation for your property yet, you might want to do so if you don’t want to be left behind by the competition.Why you need mobile optimisation You might wonder why it’s necessary to make changes to your hotel website especially for mobiles, particularly if you’ve invested a lot of time in ensuring your ordinary site is as close to perfect as you can get.
The reason is that mobile optimised sites will open in appropriate dimensions and standards for the device they’re being viewed on, resulting in a better experience for the person browsing them. It eliminates that problem you might have come across yourself, when graphics won’t load or the page keeps jumping around because it can’t seem to resolve for your screen.If you’re wondering how you might go about getting your site altered, there are lots of companies out there that can help you, or you could do your research and take the DIY approach. Also, do take a look at our article archives, as we’ve covered the technical ins and outs of device compatibility in detail in previous pieces.Benefits of optimisation If your website can build up a reputation on search engines as being mobile-friendly, it should result in you climbing further up the search rankings (thanks to those changes at Google). This means your SEO is improved without you having to lift a finger in terms of marketing or promotion – and it is likely to lead to even more traffic.Another benefit is that you’re almost certain to enjoy a lower bounce rate with a site designed to work with mobiles and tablets because the loading speeds will be faster.
According to Kissmetrics, 19 per cent of users will abandon a page that doesn’t load within five seconds, a figure that goes up to 30 per cent for six to ten seconds. Just a one-second delay may see booking conversions drop by seven per cent.If you optimise your site and it’s faster, these people should stick around – and they might even like what they see and click through to book.An obvious point but one worth mentioning is that an optimised site will simply look better than a generic one because it is being viewed in the correct way. People won’t have to put up with tiny text they need to zoom in on, which improves their perception of your brand without them even realising it. Again, it’s making it more likely that they’ll go the whole hog and complete the booking process.
Finally, having a site designed to be viewed while people are on the move capitalises on the fact that for many people, browsing hotel websites and dreaming about travel plans is something they do while they’re bored on their lunch break or stuck on a train home.If you can put your hotel in front of them as they wish they were somewhere far away from their current location, then they might just be tempted enough to click through and book, whether that’s right then on their phone or later on.In our increasingly smartphone-dependent world, a standard website isn’t going to suffice any longer and modern hotel owners and marketers must make mobile compatibility a priority if they are to reach out to as many potential guests as possible. If you ensure your site is suitable for all devices, you can get ahead of the competition by being the place people go to when they have been left dissatisfied elsewhere.
Make optimisation a priority for the start of 2017 and you could be reaping the rewards with financial rewards a few months from now.