This week, we came across a pressing article ‘Why a mobile website is essential: The stats every hotelier needs to see” written by Darlene Rondeau.

Google’s algorithm update means that hotels that have a mobile-friendly website will now move higher up in Google search results than hotels that don’t. However, this shouldn’t be the only motivating factor for hotels to provide a mobile website. Rather, let’s have a look at what Rondeau has to say.

‘A mobile website is not a trend, it’s here to stay’

According to Google, 40% of US travel site visits have been coming from mobile devices. Skift also found that in 2015, mobile bookings in North America accounted for 27% of all hotel bookings. In Asia Pacific, it was 27% and in Europe it was 21%.

Also, by the end of 2016, Skift predicts that 51.8% of online travel bookings in the US will be done on a mobile device. That’s up from 43.8% in 2015 and is expected to be almost 60% next year.

Mobile usage is changing the way people research and book travel and hotels. So, if you don’t have a mobile website, you are missing out on huge revenue potential.

“Micro-moments” changing the travel shopping journey

A new study from Google, titled ‘How Micro-Moments are Reshaping the Travel Customer Journey,’ suggests that mobile has created “micro moments” in the consumer journey.

Google breaks these “micro-moments” down into 4 categories:

“I want to Get Away” moments

“Time to Make a Plan” moments

“Let’s Book It” moments

And “Can’t Wait to Explore” moments

The article writes that according to a separate study by Google, we check our smartphones on average 150 times a day, and spend up to 177 minutes browsing. For travel shoppers, this browsing activity could be related to any of the four micro-moments mentioned above, and as such, your mobile website needs to cater to each of them.

“I want to Get Away” Mcro-moments

When a travel shopper is looking for travel inspiration, it is called the “I want to Get Away” moment. The consumer has begun to dream of a trip, but haven’t yet decided on their destination or made an accommodation decision.

Rondeau explains that during this phase, “visual content of your locale is extremely important. According to Google, 60% of destination searches comes from mobile devices and 54% of leisure travelers say that photos of the destination are important in making a decision, as are travel-related videos. Having a mobile website that can load these images and videos quickly, and display them properly, is important.”

The above guidance also applies to the business travel market who will also benefit from a mobile website that caters to “I want to get away” micro-moments, especially the “bleisure traveler” who may extend their business trip in a city and stay on as a tourist.

“Time to Make a Plan” Micro-moments

Rondeau writes:

“During “Time to Make a Plan” moments, travel shoppers have chosen a destination. Now they’re formulating a plan; looking for the right dates, the right flights, the right place to stay, and all the things to do while they’re there.

Google’s “Micro-Moments” study found that 70% of smartphone consumers use their mobile devices to conduct this type of research. And one third have discovered new travel brands while doing so. So you can see why a mobile presence is important during this phase. It’s a chance to get discovered, bookmarked, and (hopefully) encourage travel shoppers to return to your site and book.”

During this phase it’s important to provide information the traveler is looking for, like room type stories, availability, your amenities, how close you are to nearby attractions, etc.

“Let’s Book It” Micro-moments

During this micro-moment, the traveler is ready to book and is hunting for the best deal. 

Rondeau writes:

“What’s interesting from Google’s study is that 46% of travelers with smartphones may decide where to book on mobile, but ultimately book on another device. Why? Google suggests travel shoppers worry they aren’t finding the best price, or making the best decision, when booking on mobile. This is where the power of social proof comes in. Online reviews, evidence that others are booking (e.g. “only 3 rooms left”), prestigious awards, and security icons can invoke a sense of confidence in hotel shoppers to complete their booking on mobile.”

Also, your website needs to be mobile optimised and built for a mobile, not just a website that can be viewed on a mobile device.

Rondeau continues:

“Another important note here is to ensure that your booking engine supports mobile. There’s no point in leading hotel shoppers down the reservation path on a mobile device, only to find a booking engine that doesn’t support the checkout process. Never give the travel shoppers an opportunity to change their mind, or worse still, stay with your competitor.”

“Can’t Wait to Explore” Micro-moments

This type of micro-moment happens once a trip is underway and your guests are searching for things to do. Google says that 85% of traveler decide on activities only after arriving at their destination. Last year, smartphone searches at hotels for the term “things to do near me” increased by 30%. Therefore it’s very important that you provide information on your mobile website to help guests build their itinerary once they arrive.

It’s Time to Get Mobile

Rondeau concludes:

“In summary, with nearly 60% of online travel bookings expected to be done on a mobile device next year, it’s clear that a mobile website is no longer a “nice to have” for hotels, but a necessity. Travel shoppers are using their mobile devices during micro-moments in their day, and are very focused on what they’re looking for. Your mobile website should cater to each of these micro-moments in some form, be highly visual, informative, quick to load, and create a sense of urgency to book. Of course, if the travel shopper is ready to make a reservation, your mobile website needs to be able to support the booking process.”

To read the full source article, click here.

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