The Rising Tide of Mobile Bookings – How Hoteliers Can Stay Afloat
The most notable developments in the first half of 2014:
Over 41% of web visitors and nearly 38% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet).
Nearly 16% of bookings, 19% of room nights and 14% of revenue came from tablets and mobile devices. If we include voice reservations originating from the hotel mobile website, over 25% of bookings and revenue originates from the non-desktop channel. Tablets generated 224% more room nights and 283% more revenue than “pure” mobile devices. The iPad outperformed all other tablet devices and was responsible for 95% of tablet revenue and over 85% of visitors.
Compare this to just two years ago, the first half of 2012, when, non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet) generated:
Less than 17% of web visitors and 14% of page views
Less than 7% of bookings, 6% of room nights and 7% of revenue
The Shift from Desktop to Mobile and Tablet is Irreversible
What should hoteliers do about it?
To begin with, hotel marketers should view these challenges as new opportunities for revenue generation and customer engagement across all three “screens”: Desktop, mobile and tablet.
Here are a few action steps to help hoteliers address this multi-device user behaviour we are seeing today:
Hoteliers should treat all three screens as separate marketing, distribution and customer engagement channels and should optimize their presence in all three channels to provide the best user experience on each device (desktop, mobile, tablet). The three screens are only the beginning. We have yet to tackle the new threats and opportunities arising from wearable devices, connected car devices, etc. In the very near future we will be talking about a 5, 6, or 7-screen digital marketing and distribution world.
Multi-channel marketing should become the centrepiece of every hotel marketer’s overall strategy. In today’s multi-device, multi-touch world, digital marketing must be handled in a multi-channel campaign fashion to reach consumers at every touch point. All three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet) must be integrated in the hotel’s marketing strategy. These campaigns utilize the right combination of online channels effectively (paid search, email marketing, SEO, online media, social media, etc.) to promote one campaign theme. This strategy is the most effective way to increase reach and boost revenues for a need period.
Hotels should serve the right website content (textual, visual, pricing and promotional content) in the right device category (desktop, mobile, tablet) while ensuring the maximum user experience, relevancy of information and conversions.
Technology available today allows for a hotel to manage all digital content in one place, yet still provide a customized user experience for each device. This technology—adaptive web design aka Responsive Design on Server Side (RESS)—does the work for the hotelier, meaning they don’t have to manage three different websites.
This dramatic shift makes year-over-year web analytics meaningless and necessitates the need for sophisticated analytics. Tracking every dollar spent, as well as visitor behavior across the three screens, will allow hotel marketers to make quick tweaks to their online presence that result in higher revenues and a better user experience. This data could also help hoteliers justify the investment in technology needed (are you seeing low bookings from mobile or tablet users and need to invest in RESS?). In addition, with over 41% of website visitors utilizing the non-desktop channel, call analytics is a must for any hotelier. Call analytics or “offline reservation tracking” is now more important than ever: the majority of mobile bookings come via the voice channel.