When we think about Airbnb, its easy to see how theyve become such an incredible success story. For dreamers and movers alike, Airbnb has continually excelled not in selling physical accommodation, but selling a destination.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of the worlds most beautiful destinations, to meet with and stay at some truly incredible hotels.
As a traveller, however, I know my first destination was not, in fact, at any of those places.
It was the Internet, where I, like most of todays travellers, began my search.
First stop: My mobile phone
Speaking on the importance of mobile, Lee McCabe, VP, North America for China-based eCommerce platform Alibaba Group, recently said, In the U.S., we went from bricks and mortar to desktop to laptop to mobile. In China, they went from undeveloped bricks-and-mortar landscape straight to mobile.
For most Chinese consumers, mobile is the Internet, and the Internet is mobile to them.
Depending on which study you believe, mobile has either become one of the fastest-growing trends of the past decade or the latest over-hyped craze that is spoken about more than it is actually actioned.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, at SiteMinder we know through our 27,000 hotel customers how important mobile bookings have become to attracting every type of traveller.
Over the last few decades, the lowering of barriers and costs to travel has meant it is now more accessible to consumers than ever. It is this rise in travel accessibility thats driving so much of todays in-the-moment inspiration, which is leading guests to act on impulse decisions using the piece of technology they carry with them everywhere their mobile device.
Research shows one-in-two travellers who own a smartphone say its led them to make more spontaneous decisions when theyre doing their travel searches. Last-minute travel deals have exploited this trend, and theyve been successful as were seeing mobile screens grow in size and mobile payment methods get easier.
So, no matter your stance on mobile, understand that guests can now make a booking wherever they want, as quickly as they want to.
Second stop: Your hotel website
Mobile is no longer a nice-to-have for hotels. Its a must-have, because, again, todays consumers are more spontaneous. They plan their trips much closer to the day if not on the day, itself.
Patience is a thing of the past. Around 65 percent of consumers today say theyre more likely to make a purchase on mobile-friendly websites and so hotels that dont have a mobile-first approach are ultimately losing guests and revenue.
As a hotel, it is critical to recognise that guest loyalty and satisfaction can start on your website. And, by the same token, your website can also be the place it ends before its even begun. The question to ask yourself is: once guests arrive on your website, are you making it attractive and easy for them to book?
OTAs excel at taking the mobile-first approach; for your hotel to stand a chance at winning that last-minute booker, and fill those last empty rooms direct, youre going to need to ace the mobile game too.
Here are five ways to easily increase mobile bookings:
- Create a mobile-optimised, responsive website and ensure the content remains the same page-by-page from your desktop to your mobile site. Google recommends this approach.
- Have a website thats full of useful information, not only about your hotel property, but about nearby restaurants, public transport, day trips and retail options. Sell more than your hotel; sell your destination.
- Implement a mobile-friendly Internet booking engine to create a booking experience thats quick and simple.
- Incorporate a payment gateway thats optimised for mobile, so the booking path right up to purchase is seamless.
- Display clear calls-to-action. It sounds obvious, but it always surprises me how many hotels dont feature a prominent book now button on their website. A click-to-call button is particularly important for mobile bookings, as more than half of travellers would be likely to contact a hotel directly if given the capability.
Its all about a memorable guest experience
There is always that temptation to adopt technology simply because it exists, but then find yourself wondering what the return on that investment actually is.
Mobile, like any other piece of technology, should never be seen as a replacement of good customer service. It is an enabler; an enabler for guests to choose how to enjoy their stay.
The guest experience is the new direct booking, and without a mobile hotel website you may be missing the chance to provide this to a world of potential guests.
This article was originally published as Website y móviles: donde la lealtad puede acabar antes de comenzar in TecnoHotel.
About Mateus Coelho
Having worked for many years in sales, business development and account management, Mateus Coelhos greatest achievement is understanding the intimate, ever-changing needs of his customers. Since opening his own business in wealth management and financial consulting in 2008, Mateus has established a formidable track record of guiding organisations such as BookingSuite (part of the Priceline Group) to success within the European and Latin American markets. Today he is the regional manager of Iberia and Brazil for SiteMinder, the global hotel industrys leading cloud platform, which since 2006 has secured some of the Iberian and Latin American regions most renowned and respected hotels from Barcelo Hotels & Resorts and Pestana Hotel Group to Silken Hotels, Rusticae and SANA Hotels. With more than 27,000 hotel customers and 550 of the industrys top connectivity providers as partners, SiteMinder has presence in more than 160 countries on six continents.
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