Anyone who owned one of the brick-like mobile phones in the early 1990s might find it hard to believe just how far the technology has come in the past 20 years or so, with the devices in our pockets now veritable computers as opposed to just phones.However, smartphones, tablets and phablets have now become such an intrinsic part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine life without them – indeed, Google recently pointed out at a conference that we now ‘live online’ rather than ‘going online’.This is true for all parts of our lives – and it’s something hoteliers need to capitalise on if they are to avoid missing out on a potentially huge share of bookings.According to Google, the share of travel visits on mobile devices has grown by 48 per cent since 2015, while mobile web conversion rates for such sites have increased by 88 per cent.In short, there has been a massive shift in the way people research, find and book hotels online, so don’t rely on brand loyalty and other traditional forms of attracting would-be guests – make the most of mobile.Here are some of our best tips on how to do so:Appeal to different stages of the booking process.
It has been proven that people don’t simply carry out a quick search and then book when they’re organising a trip; they go through a number of different stages, including dreaming and research.As a result, you need to offer mobile marketing content that appeals to these different stages, rather than simply focusing on booking.For instance, it might be worth considering placing videos online for people to find when they’re daydreaming with their smartphone in hand about their next destination. Google estimates that 106 million of YouTube’s monthly unique visitors are travellers, and 37 per cent of people who watched travel-related videos did so when deciding which website to book on. Don’t miss out on this huge audience – provide them with something to watch that features your branding! Optimise – but stay consistent There’s nothing more annoying than watching graphics fail to load and the page jump around when you log on to a website from a mobile device, so don’t risk annoying your would-be guests with this kind of thing.Instead, ensure every page is optimised to work on mobile devices, even if it means bringing in a specialist company to overhaul your site – the benefits will surely outweigh the cost.However, it’s also vital to note here that anything you create for mobile phones and tablets must be consistent with your desktop offering. Don’t be tempted to give your colours an overhaul or try out a different logo unless it’s going out company-wide, otherwise travellers won’t know it’s your brand they’re looking at – and that makes return visits via desktops tricky.Also, take care that particular options and prices are consistent across the board, as not being able to find rates on one device that they could see on another will also serve to irritate people.Simplify with bookings in mind Continuing from the point about optimisation, it’s important to ensure that anything your would-be customers see on their mobile devices is decluttered, simplified and easily digestible. You might be proud of the infographics you’ve produced for your desktop site, but they’re a bit much to look at on anything with a seven-inch screen or even less.Similarly, large chunks of text are off-putting on a small screen, so make sure you use copy that you have created with mobile in mind. You might also want to think of other ways of simplifying the mobile experience here, such as offering online check-in and reducing the number of boxes customers need to fill in when they do take the plunge and make a booking.You may wish to offer people the chance to provide their credit card details at a later date too, as many are still wary about using their details on mobile devices that aren’t as well-protected with antivirus and spyware programs as their desktops.Consider incentives to booking.
Finally, if you’re determined to drive up engagement with people using their mobile devices when developing your hotel digital marketing strategy, then don’t forget the potential that incentives can create.For example, you could try a loyalty scheme where people can collect points on an app that can be exchanged for stays. Other good ideas include mobile-only extra options, like the ability to choose pillows in advance or order first-night room service.Don’t forget to use hotel social media either – if people check in on Facebook with their mobile devices to receive special discounts, it raises your property’s profile and reputation as well as boosting engagement. Give it a try – increase your mobile offering and see if you can capitalise on this huge shift in the way the travel industry works.