Mobile devices have been a disruptive factor in many industries — and the travel industry is no different. Your hotel website has been evolving for decades to stay abreast of constant shifts in technology, including today’s smartphones.
That evolution is by no means over. We are still seeing the disruption caused by mobile search — a disruption that creates more ways for your hotel to reach your visitors.
When it comes to your hotel, mobile search continues to hold enormous potential. Travelers are searching more, booking more, and buying more on mobile than ever before. In fact millennials — who have become the largest age demographic in the United States — check their phones upwards of 150 each day.
That’s a lot.
It also presents hoteliers with unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers in a more personalized and relevant way than ever before.
Every Trip Begins with Research
Many marketers assume travelers only research and book on mobile when they have an explicit need, however, 31% of consumers who use mobile for travel-related activities looked for travel information on a daily basis. What’s more, today’s travelers expect a personalized experience when they travel — including hotel search results tailored to the times they are traveling, the locations they are traveling to, and the reasons they’re traveling (business, pleasure, or both).
Fifty-nine percent of travelers begin researching their next trip between one and three months before departure. However, travelers also use their mobile phones to research immediate needs like nearby destinations, attractions, restaurants and more. A user on the go is typically looking for a quick solution: where to eat dinner, what time a movie is playing, where to book a hotel room, etc.
Additionally, there is a high rate of conversion involved with mobile searches, so ensuring that your website is mobile-optimized is imperative. Providing the option to click-to-call or send an email with one touch further facilitates the searcher in taking immediate action.
Rise of the Mobile Travel App
For today’s travelers, apps are ground zero for a large number of conversions, and are the preferred channel over web due to their speed, additional functionality and better overall user experience (UX). So whether it is a brand app or online travel agency app, users make use of apps to search for hotels in their destination, compare prices, and ultimately purchase a room.
In fact, a report from Phocuswire states that a whopping 78% of travelers are downloading either the same amount (or more) travel apps in 2019 than in 2018, and 60% of users who download travel apps use them regularly.
What’s more, over 90% of travelers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if their needs are not being met. This is because too much friction while booking on a mobile site can lead to “cart abandonment” for online bookings, and 53% of mobile visits are abandoned if a site takes longer than three seconds to load.
A brand app can also be useful for checking in to the hotel, looking up reservations, or managing a hotel loyalty membership. The below screenshots are of a search for “hotels Chicago”, on the left is Priceline results, and the right is a Hilton app to book a Chicago Hilton hotel night.
As you can see, each app returns results personalized based on the user’s query, location, date and more. In fact, the Hilton app returns the regular price, as well as the reduced price “Honors Discount,” further incentivizing Hilton Honors members to book the room.
Indeed, mobile apps have revolutionized the travel experience by creating highly fluid user experiences for the travelers who use them.
How Hotels Are Using Apps to Personalize Travel Experiences
In addition to returning results and specialized rates to users, hotels are using brand apps to further personalize travel experiences through an extended array of features and offerings.
Starwood Hotels, for example, use predictive data to create a more personalized experience for their guests.
They track their visitors’ interests over time and use that data to suggest activities and recommendations. What’s more, if the app is installed on a guest’s phone, the app can sense when a guest has entered the hotel property, and adjusts the user experience accordingly.
In other words, the more a guest stays at a Starwood Hotel, the more the preferred guest app learns about
Travelers and Local Search Apps
Smartphones are the new concierge; travelers use them to research activities, attractions, nearby shopping or restaurants, or to look up directions.
A typical traveler uses a smart phone not only to stay connected with friends and family back home via calling and texting, but also to learn and find places within the new destination. Local search apps like UrbanSpoon, Google Places, or Around Me enable a user to find restaurants and local businesses in close proximity and get a snapshot of what the place is like.
Plus, these types of local search apps enable a user to find restaurants and businesses in close proximity and get a snapshot of what the place is like.
Mobile Searches within Your Social Network
Social media is a powerful tool for attracting more visitors to your website.
Many travelers use smartphones to engage in social media activities during their travels to share content and talk about the quality of their experience. Visitors can check-in on sites like Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp and share their experiences. In turn, this becomes a great form of word-of-mouth advertising.
Visitors can also review your hotel and share it within their network. A study performed by Destination Analysts showed that 58.2% of travelers used user-generated content to help plan their leisure travel. Additionally, 30% of travelers said they used social media for information or inspiration for where to go and what to do.
Reviews play an important role in helping the user make a decision on where to book. In fact, 49% of travelers won’t book a hotel without reviews.
How can you get your guests to start talking you up online? Well, there are a few ways to funnel both current and prospective guests towards writing (or reading) reviews.
A simple sign at the desk or by the hotel entrance asking your customers to leave a review is one way. You can also place QR Codes on posters on the property asking a guest to follow the code to a site to leave a review while the experience is still fresh. The QR code can also be used to promote the hotel’s Facebook and Twitter pages by linking guests to a “like” and “follow” page.
Most importantly, encourage your staff to mingle with the guests. This way, you have an opportunity to resolve any issues before your guest leaves and increase your chances of scoring a positive review.
And if you notice any less-than-favorable reviews, you can check out Blue Magnet’s guide for responding to online hotel reviews.
These mobile marketing tools can advance your hotel in the social media landscape and create more conversation around the brand. As already stated, reviews of a hotel are a major factor in a searcher’s decision process. It is an on-going cycle as one guest leaves a review, another user is searching on a smart phone for their next trip.
Get Involved with Mobile Marketing
In essence, mobile marketing is a multi-faceted platform in which a user engages several different ways with a business. From calling to texting, search to apps, social media and reviews to offline actions there are so many ways to captivate a smartphone user to bring attention to your business. With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones, now is the time to take action and get involved with mobile marketing tactics.
If you think your hotel needs that extra touch to truly stand out on mobile get in touch with us today and learn how to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level.