The share of mobile hotel bookings keeps growing. Can you make this trend work for you?

According to Google, 94% of leisure travellers switch between two or more devices during their travel planning process. One of these is definitely a smartphone. No doubt, if your guests want to use a phone to find your hotel and do business with you, you have to respond with a wide range of mobile-friendly services.

The modern traveller - always on, always connected

I remember when I became the proud possessor of a Palm Zire PDA. What a top-notch-cutting-edge gadget it was… some 15-20 years ago. Today, it is archaic and completely useless. Today, I can only think of 3 real people I know who don't have a smartphone. Oh, and my mom, four then.

In 2016, the smartphone is just one of several mobile devices people carry when travelling. So it's fair to say that mobile is shaping the way we plan trips, book hotels, find places to visit and things to do, pay for services, enjoy our vacations and share our experience with others.

pda device

And here comes the big "news":

If you fail to provide a good mobile experience to your guests, they are done with you.

88% of travellers with smartphones will switch if not happy with a site or app

That's it - travelers come to your hotel's website to book a room or interact otherwise and if you don't meet their expectations, they will switch to a competitor. So, if you are ready to give your guests the digital experience they want, keep reading.
The first thing you need to please your customers is a stunning mobile-friendly website.

Mobile hotel website

Here we have two parts - your own branded hotel website and the booking engine you have integrated in it.

Mobile hotel website

First of all, your hotel website must be responsive, i.e. to look great and be fully functional when opened on a mobile screen. Google offers a great free tool for every web owner to check their website for any mobile usability issues. It is in the Google Search Console, former Webmaster tool, and shows you how your web pages perform on mobile screens and what improvements can be made.

Another very important thing to check is the page's speed. Again, Google gives you the tool for that, and you can switch between mobile and desktop views to find any problems and suggested fixes. And it's always a good idea to open your website on your smartphone and browse through it pretending to be a traveller who wants to book a room in your hotel or learn more about the services your property offers.

Last but not least, there is content. Both of the above mentioned tools can help you find out which pages of your website are the most popular landing pages for mobile searches, which keywords the content ranks for, and even what the behaviour of the visitors is. All these instruments will help you realize what content resonates with your guests and keeps them on the website. Two things are sure: first, best price guarantee should be granted and clearly communicated everywhere on your website and booking engine. Second, find the right balance between design and usability - your content should be well-designed, but it's more important that it is easy to consume and navigate through.

Mobile web booking engine

Mobile Internet has set new standards of web page usability. This means better navigation and minimum steps required to complete a task. The more steps it takes to make a booking, get confirmation or find information about the offer, the more abandoned bookings and lost revenue for your hotel. To avoid these problems, choose a web booking engine that is intuitive and easy to navigate, lets you expose your offers in the most enticing manner and emphasize on your best-sellers.

mobile web booking engine on a tablet

A few other things to consider when setting your online booking engine:

Multi-lingual and multi-currency. Since you welcome worldwide audience on your hotel website, it's important to provide language and currency options for your online customers to choose from. This improves their convenience and your chances for conversion. Secure PCI DSS compliant online payment is another must-have.

Sell more than rooms or beds. To be successful and bring more sales in, your hotel website should be a one-stop-shop for travelers. Pick a booking engine that will allow you to sell extra services, multiple bookings in one transaction, gift vouchers, special offers. And while on special offers, the possibility to book lower rates with a personal code is a great sales buster and marketing instrument you could leverage well for your online sales.

FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out can play a big role in the buying decision process of travelers. To take benefit of this, you need a booking engine that lets you tag specific rates as limited offer, best price or similar labels that create some sense of urgency. Another tool that OTAs use as well are limited availability warnings like "only 1 room left" displayed next to some room rates or packages.

Mobile-friendly design. Even if you have all of the above instruments, they are worth nothing if the web booking engine isn't displayed correctly or is running too slowly on a mobile device. Whether the search engines won't rank you high or the visitor will find your website but leave it for not being mobile-friendly, you will lose business and reputation.

Once you have completed the above steps towards your perfect mobile online presence, you will start taking direct online bookings that have lower acquisition costs than those through booking mediators like OTAs. But this is only the start of your mobile communication and engagement with your customers. In part two of this series we will focus on the digital experience hotels can provide to their guests throughout their entire journey.

About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based hotel management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 60 countries.