By Lindsey Iles
Mobile phones dominate our lives. Regardless of age, we have become addicted to the mobile screen , lowering our overall productivity , impacting our offline relationships and distracting us during simple tasks such as walking down a street . Despite the mobile-phone dependence in our personal lives, as an industry, we are failing to get eyeballs or engagement with hotel mobile content.
The reality is, hoteliers are under pressure and the constant innovations in technology that make things easy for consumers can put a squeeze on hotel resources. That said, as a hotelier, how do you cut through the clutter to reach the right customers? Keep these tips in mind to blast through the noise to make the most of your mobile communications.
Understanding mobile-usage behaviours
It can be tricky to navigate what does and doesn’t resonate with mobile users. Simply downsizing your desktop content for the smaller screen isn’t going to cut it. Travellers want access to practical and useful information at their fingertips, such as airline check-in and mobile boarding passes. They want speed in communications, such as real-time messaging from hotels and geo-location tracking on transportation. We’re making these consumer expectations a reality through a recent collaboration with Egencia, the business-travel arm of Expedia Group. Busy business travellers will soon be able to message their hotel directly from within the Egencia app on their mobile device.
It’s not just about communications. Content plays an important role in driving mobile engagement. Travellers engage most with photos on mobile devices, viewing on average 30 to 35 images of hotel properties before booking, followed by the availability wizard and reviews. Understanding what travellers are actively seeking and using on mobile — and applying these insights to optimize your strategy — can encourage more mobile engagement and usage.
Mobile users are browsing AND buying
There’s also a common misconception that mobile is used purely for research and not a conversion tool. While 15 per cent of Canadian leisure travellers made their last hotel booking via a smartphone or tablet , Expedia Group data also reveals that one-third of booking transactions are made via mobile , with more than 50 per cent of traffic now arriving via mobile. Even if mobile is not the final platform for the transaction, cross-device compatibility is just as important to influence customers throughout their purchase journey. For example, business travellers are more likely to book transportation first from their desktop and add a hotel afterwards. Being able to reserve a hotel from their mobile device can increase attach rates and facilitate earlier bookings.
Hotels should also take advantage of mobile deals, as seven in 10 mobile bookings come from deals. The use of deals is high for customers across the globe, up to 91 per cent for American and Canadian travellers, 88 per cent for Chinese and Brits, 80 per cent for the Japanese, 70 per cent for the French and 68 per cent for Germans. Enticing travellers with mobile-exclusive deals, such as earning points from in-app purchases, can increase conversion on mobile.
Looking ahead, a younger Canadian demographic will continue to drive changes in travel behaviour, including an ongoing shift to online and mobile booking. Online travel-booking growth will outpace the overall market through 2021, when online travel penetration will reach 47 per cent .
Mobile is not the last resort
Mobile has long since been touted as a source of same-day bookings and the go-to tool when hoteliers need to fill rooms at the last minute. However, Expedia Group data shows mobile-booking windows span the full spectrum.
In Quebec, the booking window for mobile stays (trips booked on mobile) average 14 days, with longer booking windows in Mont Tremblant (20 days), Gaspesie – Iles de la Madeleines (21 days) and Quebec City (17 days). When looking at other desirable destinations across Canada, the data shows an increase in the booking windows for Vancouver (21 days), Banff Area (29 days), Cavendish (29 days), Tofino (30 days), Whistler (24 days) and Gulf Islands (35 days).
According to Expedia Group data, the top-five inbound mobile-demand-penetration markets for Canada are Canada, U.S., United Kingdom, Republic of Korea and Australia .
Avoid the ‘set-and-forget’ approach
Hoteliers often fall into the trap of establishing a great mobile strategy but then crossing it off the list and failing to continually test, learn and evolve.
Leveraging the assets of technology partners, such as an OTA, can help create big results for minimal input. Integrating mobile as part of your long-term strategy to drive bookings is an essential step in capturing travellers, as more customers browse and shop for travel across different platforms. That said, understanding how customers engage with travel content on mobile is critical to optimize your mobile strategy and produce successful results.