With the continual rise in traffic and last-minute bookings from mobile devices, it is apparent that having a mobile site is critical to having a successful hotel marketing campaign. It is no longer an option for hoteliers to design a mobile-friendly site, but rather it is a requirement that must be implemented to provide an overall positive user experience and to ultimately drive direct bookings. According to eMarketer, of the 1,200 US internet users surveyed in March 2013, 48% of respondents booked on a laptop, while 29% booked on a tablet and 23% on a smartphone. Although it is likely that users will book from a desktop, it is important to note that many will start off researching on a mobile device or tablet. This same survey indicated that nearly half of the respondents researched travel on both smartphones and tablets before deciding to book on a desktop or laptop. That said, it is vital that hotels create a user-friendly experience across all devices to ensure that your hotel site is positively influencing the users’ purchasing decision no matter which device they are using. Hoteliers should pay close attention to how their website is displayed and optimized on various devices in order to keep users engaged from the moment of searching to researching and finally to booking. Hoteliers can now choose from two mobile solutions to help them achieve their particular goals and objectives.
Responsive Design Solution A mobile solution that has quickly become the number one choice for most hoteliers is known as responsive design. Responsive design has become a sought after mobile solution for hotels because of its many benefits from easy management to its simplistic mechanism. Responsive website design is a technique that allows you to create one website that works properly with all devices. This kind of mobile solution takes on a “one site fits all” motto in which one site is created to fit the size of any screen including desktops, tablets and smartphones. So how can hotels benefit from responsive design? Well for one, you won’t have to worry about designing multiple layouts of your site and optimizing the content for each device. Another reason why you may want to adopt this solution is that it is easier to manage content and images on the site. No longer will you have to navigate to different content management systems to make updates to each platform of your site. Responsive design allows you to make instant updates to all platforms (mobile, tablet, desktop) using a single CMS. Also, Google has publicly stated that they prefer responsive design because it is easier for Google to index and retrieve content from a site accessed through a single URL. However, although Google prefers this solution, it may not be the right fit for all hotel sites.
Multiple Site Solution Although a popular choice, responsive design may not necessarily be for everyone. Responsive design can have its drawbacks when it comes how your hotel ranks on Google. For one, because your site essentially has the same content on all devices, you are limited in optimizing the content on each device. You won’t have the option of both optimizing content specifically for mobile users who want simplified information and creating content that is keyword-rich on the desktop version. If this is a concern for you, then you may want to choose the multiple site solution. This solution takes on the traditional approach of building a mobile site separate from the main desktop version. This approach is ideal for hotel sites that have many pages within the site. Instead of displaying all 30 pages of the site in a mobile device why not build a separate site that would cater to mobile users who are interested in specific information? A great way to figure out which pages to include in a mobile site is by looking into analytics and seeing which pages mobile users are visiting the most often. From there, you can decide which pages to include on the mobile site.
The multiple site solution enables hoteliers to optimize the content according to which device the guest is using. Keep in mind that user behavior changes depending on the device used to navigate your site. If a visitor is using their smartphone to research about your hotel, it is important include pages that will address their last-minute inquiries including photo gallery, amenities, contact, and map. Including these pages on a mobile site will help engage users on the site thereby decreasing the bounce rate and increasing time spent on the site. Regardless of which solution is utilized, remember that Google supports both options. Every guest should easily find what they need no matter which device they are using and be able to book with ease.
Whether you adopt a responsive design solution or build a traditional mobile site, always keep your audience in mind and ask yourself how you would best address the guests’ needs. In this multi-channel world, it is much more than just fitting a website into different devices and screen sizes, it is about providing an optimum user experience that converts visitors into guests. To maximize bookings, hoteliers need to find the ‘right’ mobile solution that will make the user experience seamless.