Before you go ahead, take a moment and recall anyone you know or work with you who doesn’t own a smartphone.
What is the answer? I am sure you will agree that almost everyone owns and uses a smartpne these days both for personal and official purposes?
It’s a data backed fact. The number of mobile users worldwide is forecasted to reach a whopping 2659.4 million by 2019!
Now, that says a lot about mobile usage in today’s times. And, along with it comes an increased dependency on the gadget for surfing the internet, social networking and making online mobile transactions.
Surprisingly, a large part of the latter comprises travel-related bookings. As much as 42% of travelers worldwide use mobile devices to book/plan trip, confirms a 2015 TripAdvisor study. And, the numbers increase as we quote these statistics.
For hotels, it actually means they have to reconsider not only their online presence but also the mediums they can be reached.
Let’s see how-
1. Make Your Hotel Website Mobile-Friendly
The statistics we just shared above signal how hotels and travel businesses need to ensure that they deliver a smooth online experience to prospective clients. The most important one being, to ensure an SEO and Mobile friendly website. And here’s why:
- Good first impression: A mobile responsive website of a hotel leaves a good impression on the visitor and improves the brand value.
- Less load time: Speed is paramount. A non-mobile-optimized website loads slowly on mobile devices and may draw the visitors away.
- Less “nipping and squishing”: A mobile-optimized website will require users to pinch and scroll to read the content less often as compared to its non-optimized counterpart, enhancing user experience.
- Better SEO: A mobile-optimized website brings more web traffic, engendering better hotel Search Engine Optimization and Ranking for the website.
- More business: 61% of the people, more than 1000 U.S. citizens investigated in a 2012 Google study said they’d jump to another site if a mobile site fails to give them the information they need immediately. A mobile friendly and responsive website will, therefore, ensure increased visitor-to-customer conversions.
- Competitive edge: Though mobile websites and apps are a mainstay for cab service giants, hoteliers are yet to embrace this development. The quicker a hotel leverages this opportunity, the more competitive it gets.
2. Do You Need a Dedicated Mobile Site?
Hotels may choose whether to invest in a separate mobile website or adopt a responsive website, i.e. designing their website in a way that makes it accessible across a wide array of platforms with different operating systems, screen sizes, and resolutions.
For the uninitiated, here is some rationale to go by.
While a separate mobile website may help you capture your mobile audience well, owing to its fast loading speed, simple layout and ease of use, it may double the cost and effort involved in its maintenance. The effort doesn’t simply stop at the designing phase, but goes on with every new update to the desktop website that the mobile version needs to sync with.
Responsive hotel website, on the other hand, will adjust everything from its resolution to features across different devices, snowballing its scope of accessibility. It may also be more SEO-friendly, as it will inherit the page rank of its desktop parent and eliminate the need to make different HTML5 scripts — a requirement for mobile-dedicated websites that will restart the process of achieving a good page rank from scratch!
Although it demands low maintenance; a website with a responsive design requires gigantic initial investment as every nook and corner of the website needs optimization across all possible platforms.
The upshot is, there is no right or wrong. The choice must be premised on suitability. With consideration to the available resources, if a hotel deems some information on the website unimportant for the user and prioritizes simplification, a mobile website seems suitable. By the same token, a responsive website may be a good choice for hoteliers willing to invest much in a long-term solution.
3. UX vs. UI
4. Improving Mobile-User Experience
- Contact Information on the home page: No matter how information-loaded your website is, specific queries deserve specific answers. Provide the visitors your contact information right on the visit.
- ‘Call to Action’ buttons: The more visible the ‘call to action’ buttons like ‘buy now’/book now’/call now’ are, the easier it gets for the user to locate them, and tap them.
- Ease the scroll: Go vertical! Smartphone users, for obvious reasons, are accustomed to scrolling and may be put down by cumbersome pinching, panning, and zooming. A scroll-friendly layout allows more options to be put on the same page, minimizing the opening of new web pages for the desired information.
- Efficient Map Integration: Knowledge of a hotel’s location and directions to it help the customer decide whether or not to choose a hotel to stay. The same can be achieved by a simple Google maps integration.
- Homogenize with Social Media: Most social media websites and apps are used on mobile devices. Hoteliers can use social media integration to generate more backlinks to their apps and websites and hence, make themselves more reachable. Pinning the hotel’s twitter account to the mobile site home page, mimicking a ‘vertical show reel’, is a good example of social media integration. It helps the hotel familiarize the user with their new schemes and offers through the latest tweets by the hotel that would keep showing on the home page.
- Support for Multiple Languages: Adding a big ‘translate’ button right at the top of your home page is a delight for your foreign visitor. This is specifically relevant to hotels in exotic locations visited by tourists from different countries.
- Layered Images: While the idea of adding slide shows of images of hotel rooms and facilities seems perfect for desktop platforms, the same may be inefficient for mobile devices, owing to loading speed issues. Hence, layered images, if designed well, can be catchy and help the user understand your hotel better.
5. Now, Google Has a Mobile-Friendly Ranking System!
In early 2015, Google started an algorithm that ranks mobile-friendly websites higher than other ones in mobile search results. This can dramatically impact a hotel’s overall SEO status. It is, hence, imperative for hotels to make their presence felt on mobile devices just as much as they would on desktops.
When you click on the hotel listing on Google, it shows you lots of information along with the reviews. Apart from the reviews that come from Google, there is also an additional section that shows you reviews from third-party websites including Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda and more. A hotel’s website is a virtual face of hotel’s brand reputation. We have talked about it in the past also, that’s how important is your online reputation management.
Again, we will emphasize on this fact, by quoting that hotels are increasing using tools and technology to manage their online rating and reviews. Apart from standalone products for the hospitality industry, there are also unified, integrated solutions available to take care of complete end to end needs of the Hospitality industry. More and more hoteliers are opting for such holistic solutions to make their daily operations faster and effective.
Take this mobile-friendly test by Google now. It’s time to go mobile!