Mobile Search Strategies for the Travel Industry

It is no secret mobile search has become more popular over the past decade. With the popularity of smartphones and mobile devices there has been a noticeable and consistent increase of time spent online with these devices over the past ten years. According to a study performed by Comscore in 2017 over half of all digital minutes are now spent on mobile. These are all potential visitors to your website, searching, clicking and navigating the web while on the go.

While the study shows significant time is still spent on desktop browsing, it is important for your site to effectively convert on both (which can be done quite effectively with a mobile optimized website.

Google’s focus on mobile is becoming more and more all-encompassing. With their experimentations on a mobile first index as well as the booming Accelerated Mobile Pages project, it is clear the growing focus on mobile friendly websites across all industries is not going anywhere. While this trend spans every industry, each one is affected in its own unique way and comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities.

Every hotel website should prepared for increased mobile traffic. When your site is optimized for mobile traffic, it will get better treatment in search results than sites that are not. It will be vital for your business to know what the trends are in mobile search and how that can affect the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. In knowing these trends, you can plan an optimized mobile strategy for 2018.

How Travelers Research on Mobile

A growing trend the Blue Magnet team has noticed in the digital landscape is that more users are conducting their initial research on mobile, then revisiting the site on desktop to continue research or reserve their room.The reason for this is that most mobile users are on the go and are not in a position to make bigger financial commitments (imagine pulling out your credit card on the train to work and reserving a $200 hotel room – it is possible, but the idea makes many individuals uncomfortable). Because of this behavioral trend many sites will see higher traffic coming into their websites on mobile devices, but the conversion rates will be much lower than visits from desktops, This can be seen by the examples below, taken from a diverse selection of Blue Magnet clients between September and November of 2017.

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It is difficult to say how often this is part of a potential guest’s plan, but the data above fits extraordinarily well within this narrative. All of these hotels have an equal or greater amount of traffic coming to them on mobile, but a lower percentage of those visitors are checking for the room rate.

One way this conclusion can be verified is by implementing cross-device tracking on your website. This is an advanced feature that is difficult to implement but the result allows you to see what number of users have visited your website on multiple devices and platforms.

For example, an individual riding a crowded train car in the middle of winter may think to themselves, “New Orleans sounds nice this time of year.” Upon thinking that, they decide to search for hotels in New Orleans and come across a new boutique property. The Cambria New Orleans. During their commute, they click through the mobile site, read about the hotel and look at the guest rooms, but they are not quite ready to make a decision yet.

At work, they do a little bit more research on their work PC and search for the hotel directly. When they get home, they type the URL immediately into their browser so they can book right away. With cross-device tracking implemented onto a site, those stages of the traveler’s journey are easier to identify and plan for. When this happens you can have a more full picture of how potential guests are finding your hotel; however, when you do not have cross device tracking these sessions all appear as a new user, and it is harder to attribute how your visitors are finding your property.

Impulse Hotel Bookings: Combining Mobile Optimization with Local SEO

Another way mobile users often find themselves visiting a hotel website is via a local search. A consistent term that we find drives revenue for hotels every month is “hotels near me” to a point where it has been on a steady increase of popularity over the past five years.

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While some mobile searchers are planning ahead with the goal of reserving their room later, others need a hotel room immediately. Plenty of hotels see these travelers coming through their doors with last minute bookings, consider a business traveler who missed their flight, a wedding guest who forgot to plan ahead, or even a resident of your city displaced by a natural disaster. When guests unexpectedly need a room for the night, they oftentimes want the closest option, leading for them to search, “hotels near me.”

At the same time, Google has noticed more and more searchers are looking for immediate services and this includes hotels. While there is a strong demographic of mobile users who are simply doing research, there is another demographic who simply have stopped planning ahead since they know they can get immediate results.

Local Search and “Hotels Near Me”

Helping users find the hotel closest to them is one of many reasons why local search is so important. When a potential guest searches for “hotels near me” Google or the user’s preferred search engine looks into its index of business listings and shows that person the closest results. However, Google always wants to serve its searchers the best and most relevant content, so while location plays an important factor, completion and accuracy do as well.

In order to properly capture these highly motivated travelers, it is necessary to have your hotels official name, address, and phone number wrapped in proper schema definitions to make it clear to search engines what the text is referring to.

Next, you should fully fill out and verify your Google My Business listing, making sure the information you can edit appears the same as it does with your website schema (so if you are defining your hotel’s name as “The Vedder Hotel” your Google my business and all future listings should read as “The Vedder Hotel” not variants such as “Hotel Vedder” or “The New York Vedder Hotel”). If you have a lot of different signals telling search engines what your name is (even if they are close enough for a person to tell the difference) Google will not be sure which one is correct and will be less likely to show your hotel to a potential guest compared to your competitors who are.

Or to look at it another way, if a potential guest searches for “hotels near me” and you have your site optimized for local search while your competitors do not, there is a better chance you will be displayed in their results. If you continue to build out local citations with consistent and accurrate data, it can help you gain that edge for users looking for a last minute room on mobile.

Your 2018 Mobile Strategy

With mobile searches on the rise, more research being done on phones and tablets, and a growing trend of searchers looking for results “right now” it is vital to have your website prepared for mobile visitors. Google is now not only preferring websites that easily accommodate mobile visitors, but your average traveler will be enthralled by a positive experience with your site.

In order to make sure your site is appearing for those mobile visitors, your first step will be to make sure it is responsive and quick to load on mobile devices. It should be easy to navigate and read through on smartphones because there is a very good chance this is where users are doing their initial research.

In the same vein, you want clear, easy to find calls to action that do not disrupt a visitor’s experience. This takes into account the needs of the casual researcher, as well as the last minute booker (if it is hard to find you may discourage those immediate bookings, but if it’s obstructing the researcher you can discourage them as well.

Mobile friendliness is one of the current major changes affecting your sites appearance on SERP. It can determine if a user sees your hotel as modern rather than outdated, and how easily they can access your website in times of need.

The landscape of mobile search is in a constant state of growth and expansion. You should always be taking into consideration the wants and needs of users who are on both the first stage of their travel journey and the last. If possible, you should implement whatever tools you can to properly attribute how visitors decide to book, as they may be visiting your website multiple times from different searches, and different devices. 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!

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