As technology continues to grow at an exponential rate, we are rapidly becoming a tech-savvy mobile world. Even grandpa knows what email is now and it’s common to see a young child with a cell phone. As our methods of communicating and interacting evolve, so must our businesses…and hotels are no exception. What does this mean? This means that not only is it important to have an optimized, user-friendly desktop website but it’s almost more profitable for hotels to design a properly functioning mobile-specific website (not to be confused with mobile-friendly). According to Vikram Singh, CEO of eVision Worldwide, user intent is five times higher when clicking on mobile ads than ads on the desktop.It’s also becoming a widely understood fact that mobile users are ready to make a purchase than to merely browse on their phones.
Let’s look at the facts:
- 97% of searches performed on mobile devices are conducted through Google
- Click-through-rates are 75% higher for mobile optimized pages than non-optimized pages (Google Mobile Ads)
- 19% of hotel queries are made on a mobile device (Google Mobile Ads)
How can you take advantage of this growing trend?
Not many hoteliers understand the full impact a mobile-specific site can have on their revenue yet, so hotels that do jump on this trend have a good shot at leading the pack. There are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that you optimize your mobile site to its fullest extent.
- Check Your Site’s Mobile Friendliness – To determine the level of your site’s “mobile friendliness,” use W3C’s mobileOK Checker tool. This tool evaluates your site’s basic usability, efficiency, and interoperability and provides you with a “PASS” or “FAIL” result. If your site fails, W3C also provides tips for rectifying any errors so you can run the test again.
- Simplify Your Mobile Site – Make your mobile site a simplified version of the full-site, including a visible phone number with a click-to-call button and easy booking functionality. Try keeping content above the fold (meaning, architecting your site so everything fits in the screen space without scrolling down), which will require you to only include essential components for mobile users. Most importantly, the steps from entry to booking should be as simple as possible to quickly give users what they’re looking for. Remember, most mobile users are ready to reserve a room, so make it easy for these on-the-go users.
- Offer Exclusive Deals – Go even further by using the mobile site to offer exclusive deals. Some offers could be receiving a discount for booking through the mobile site, offering guests to opt-in to text message marketing programs, or having guests “check-in,” “Like” or comment on hotel’s Facebook page.
- No Java. No Flash. – Avoid using Java or Flash at all costs. The main reason for this is that Apple products do not support Flash, so you would be missing out on a big portion of your users. Java needs to be avoided not only because many phones don’t support Java, either, but mostly because it takes too long to load pages. Keep in mind, mobile users want to quickly perform their actions and they simply don’t have time to wait for your page to load. There’s a very good chance you’ll lose that potential booking before they even open your site.
- Avoid Pop-up Windows – There are several reasons for this, but the most significant reason is that you don’t want to lose your user. Your mobile site should be designed to guide the user to booking a room as swiftly, painlessly, and user-friendly as possible. Pop-ups on a mobile device are not user-friendly. It’s difficult enough to navigate through different tabs and pages on a mobile device, let alone figuring out how to get back to the page the users wanted after a pop-up appears. If nothing else, pop-ups decrease page load speed which also causes the potential for users to leave your site before making a reservation.
Be a leader in the hotel industry and design your mobile-specific site today. The benefit will quickly be evident and your guests will appreciate the convenience.