The demands of the traveling public for user-friendly mobile hotel booking apps is one of the driving forces behind the rise of the online travel agency (OTA) and its domination of hotel booking. With OTAs taking the lion’s share of hotel bookings, hoteliers need to step up and offer their customers what they are seeking. Besides providing a mobile booking engine, hoteliers can utilize a number of other aspects of mobile technology to generate direct hotel bookings and build brand loyalty as well.
Probably the most effective choice of mobile web design for hotels, in terms of cost and functionality, is the responsive design website. A responsive design website is capable of detecting and then conforming itself to the screen size of the viewing platform whether desktop or laptop computer, smartphone or tablet. All data, both images and text, are correctly sized automatically for a superior user experience on any device.
Statistics completely support the necessity of hotel websites to be ready to book the stay for their customers no matter what device platform they choose. Research conducted by Google and others found that 69 percent of all smartphone users are more likely to make a purchase on a mobile website. This is when compared to sites which are optimized, yet non-mobile. Furthermore, 48 percent of mobile users in Google’s study felt that companies, whose websites don’t perform well on their devices, really don’t care about them as customers. The Phocuswright figures from part 1 of this blog bear this out as well. Hoteliers cannot afford to lose the revenue from mobile customers to OTAs.
The initial investment in a responsive design hotel website may be somewhat higher at the start, however the cost is more than returned in the form of increased direct hotel bookings. When customers and potential guests can plan and book their hotel seamlessly from any device during all the different stages of travel planning, they are drastically more likely to book directly with confidence from the hotel website.
The traveling public is increasingly making their travel arrangements on the fly and from virtually anywhere. Their expectation is to have the ability to easily navigate and use the websites of all the businesses they patronize, not just hotels, on all their devices. It is imperative for hoteliers to provide the user experience their customers have come to expect from all businesses.
In the last part of this series, we will look at ways in which hotel branded mobile apps can improve customer service while increasing both brand awareness and loyalty for hoteliers.
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