HiRUM Software Solutions

How to Increase Your Direct Bookings with a Mobile-Friendly Website

Posted by Carly Crossley - 26/08/2015

In 2014, several Google employees made informal statements that mobile search queries would probably overtake desktop queries at some point this year. Google confirmed this has now happened in May 2015. The company released a statement saying that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

Remarkably, there are many major companies and brands which still don’t have mobile-friendly websites. For any hotelier that has yet to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy, the statistics on mobile commerce make for sobering reading:

The Evidence

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There are clear visibility and ranking consequences for non-mobile-friendly sites, in addition to usability consequences. A study verified that mobile-friendly sites dominate the top position in Google search results. They found that 83% of the time, the top result is tagged as mobile-friendly by Google. 81% of the time the top 3 results are mobile-friendly. And when you consider all ten of the spots on Google’s first page, 77% of the search results are “mobile-friendly.”

The November 2014, the World Travel Market Global Trends report projects that mobile bookings will account for 35% of online bookings by 2018, and this doesn’t include the travellers who are driven to call by mobile search.

Statistic after statistic supports web responsive design that will maintain a site’s integrity on any device. However, the industry is struggling to keep up with the demand. According to TripAdvisor, only 45% of global hotels currently accept mobile bookings.

The Lost Opportunity for Direct Bookings

There is still huge potential for mobile bookings to continue rising as a proportion of total online bookings, but it’s beyond question that non-mobile-friendly sites in general are being negatively affected. Despite the growing evidence that the smartphone reigns supreme, many general managers still find themselves struggling to develop effective, user-friendly mobile travel sites and apps.

There is a lost opportunity for direct bookings if m-commerce is not supported. Some hotels which have embraced mobile are seeing a high percentage of same day bookings from mobile devices and there is a great deal of potential to sell empty rooms to same day bookers on m-commerce platforms.

The Solution

The obvious next step for hoteliers whose sites aren’t mobile-ready is to update them ASAP! The larger objective is not simply to comply with Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm. Hotels need to provide a simple experience that not only facilitates direct bookings on mobile devices, but also results in a higher conversion rate.

Get a responsive website and booking form!

For property managers, making sure your website is mobile enabled, accessible and user-friendly across all platforms is the critical first step. The ideal website is responsive, meaning that it will adapt to the size of any user’s device screen, whether it’s a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device. A responsive website design will have far more longevity than a website with a separate mobile view. With countless smartphone and tablet models available, and so many varied screen sizes to consider, responsive designs ensure your visitors will have a positive experience on your website using any device and screen size of their choice.

Add a Click-to-Call Button

A Google study found that 58% of respondents would be extremely/very likely to call a hotel if the capability were available on a mobile search. Add a click-to-call button for the handset so your website visitors can easily call you directly.

Ensure visitors can also research from their mobile device

Travellers are increasingly using mobile devices to do their travel planning research. Expedia is reportedly developing a way for travellers to begin a booking on a mobile device but transfer it to a PC. Ultimately, a solid, seamless mobile research experience will also drive hotel direct bookings on mobile.

Continue evaluating and improving your mobile experience

Once a mobile-friendly website has been implemented, property managers can then begin to look at the infinite amount of ways to improve the hotel experience and potentially increase their revenue in the process. Integrating something like your business traveller or tiered guest rewards programme with your mobile platforms so that members don’t have to carry their cards with them is just one example. Opportunities like these are only going to increase as smartphones become more sophisticated and powerful, allowing for new ways of doing business. In the future, predictive technology will be able to intelligently link users’ smartphone apps together, perhaps suggesting a particular hotel following a flight booking.

Various bits of research point to how consumers often have a poor experience when visiting hotel sites on a mobile. With consumers increasingly using their mobile or tablets to access information or makes bookings on hotel sites, properties must wake up to what is needed to get produce a decent user experience. Making sure your website is mobile-friendly across all devices is a critical first step towards increasing your direct bookings.

 


Ready to go mobile?

HiRUM Website Design for hotels uses our 16 years of industry experience to create responsive websites that will increase your visibility and bookings. HiRUM creates websites that are extremely easy to maintain, ensuring updating your website is as simple as editing a text document.

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Don’t forget your mobile-friendly booking form!

HiSITE Book Direct is fully responsive, so your guests can book from a smartphone, tablet or laptop with ease; anytime, anywhere!

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Carly is the Social Media Coordinator at HiRUM Software Solutions.
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