Mobile is the most widely used device by those who travel or planning to do so. Fifty-one persone of travelers use smartphones to book while more than 70 percent search for information on their next destination.
According to Google, travel-related searches increased more than 50 percent last year.
The most frequent keywords are related to airlines and transportation services in general, tour operators, and of course, hotels, which is the most searched term on mobile within the travel category. In fact, search on mobile devices for hotels has increased by 27 percent compared to last year.
Micro-Moments and the Importance of Being There
Mobile allows you to communicate with people who are looking for information in a personalized way and at the right time. This is true especially when it comes to travelers who are in need of an immediate response than can be translated immediately into action: call, book, buy.
Navigation is often completed within a few minutes: search, comparing the results, consultation and conversion. According to Google’s article titled “4 Mobile Moments Changing the Consumer Journey”, conversion rates have grown 88 percent on mobile travel sites in the past year.
Clearly, those who are winning are hotels that are there in micro-moments and know how to stand out from the crowd. It is therefore essential to develop a positioning strategy and action plan for mobile. The better you act, the more you earn.
The Strategic Role of Marketers
Despite the opportunities offered by mobile, many hotels still do not have an optimized website, nor are they aware of the importance of carrying out specific strategies to get noticed on new devices.
Another problem lies in the professional skill: who manages a hotel does not have the time and especially the skills to create a marketing activity plan for mobile and keep up with it on their own.
The role of a marketer is therefore strategic to raise awareness of the importance of mobile in the industry and to support hotels in the development of a strategy, starting from the analysis of a specific target and the objectives to develop a personalized action plan. Here’s how a marketer establishes a hotel’s visibility on mobile:
1. Mobile Website: Simplicity Above All
Simplicity is the key on mobile. Content should be organized in an intuitive structure and optimized for touch-screen navigation. In addition:
- Short Titles - no more than five to six words and followed by synthetic and relevant text
- Well-placed call-to-action contacting and booking procedure should be completed in just a few clicks
- Synthetic form with less fields to fill in and essential graphics
- Balance between text, images and video, which must immediately convey what the hotel is about
For marketers who do not have programming or graphics skills to create a web page with these features, there are online systems to develop mobile sites and apps in just a few minutes and at a low cost.
2. User Experience: From Dream to Urgency
Simplicity does not mean poor content: user experience must be engaging and address all targets, from those who are planning their trip months in advance to those who are in urgent need of a room within a few hours. In all cases, the user must immediately perceive that the hotel is exactly the accommodation he or she is looking for and therefore make the reservation.
Remember that you are not just offering a place to sleep, but also an experience, which includes the website and all other online channels (social and mobile advertising).
An example: Gili Lankanfushi Maldives’ website let users explore and experience their luxury hotel in a heavenly place. With images in loop and messages conveying a relaxing atmosphere, it is truly an emotional navigation experience for those who dream of visiting this place and also for those who urgently need to book, which can be easily done within a few seconds.
3. SEO: The Slowest Ones Will Lose the Race
Until recently, being penalized in the search results for not having an optimized website was just a possibility. However, after Mobilegeddon, it certainly is the case today: Google has openly announced that mobile optimization is a primary criterion for site ranking. If you do not believe it, search a hotel in a certain area on Google and compare desktop and mobile results. You will see that the results are very different.
Below is a comparison of the results obtained on desktop and on mobile when searching for “Hotels in Copenhagen”: the first three organic results are completely different. Expedia hotels fall from first to ninth place on mobile while Admiral Hotel takes third place on desktops but is not among the first 10 results on mobile.
Google’s goal is to reward websites that better meet users’ need for immediacy. Mobile surfers, and travelers in particular, have no time to waste: 49 percent of them abandon the site if it does not load within 10 seconds.
It is not just a visibility problem, but also of turnover: potential customers who are impatient will go to a competing hotel website. Suppose that a one-second delay in loading a website leads to a reduction of seven percent in conversions. This means that if a hotel earns $ 100,000 a day, that one-second delay in a year will amount to $ 2.5 million in lost sales.
Related Article: Mobilegeddon or Not, You Really Need a Mobile Website
4. Customer M-Care: Always Be There for Them
Anything can happen when you are traveling: unexpected delays, last-minute reservations or cancellations. Being always and instantly available to solve customers’ problems can make a difference. Communicating via mail can be slow while using mobile phone can be expensive abroad.
Instant messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, are the easiest and cheapest way to integrate this service among those offered by the hotel, taking advantage of the potential in each phase of customer contact.
- 1st Phase: When the users are visiting the website and they find a WhatsApp contact, they will perceive the hotel as reactive and ready to respond to its customers. It is an instant and free way to communicate if the user urgently needs to contact the hotel.
- 2nd Phase: During their stay, WhatsApp lets them inform the reception staff about special needs or problems.
- 3rd Phase: After the guest’s checkout, the hotel can use WhatsApp to request a review or save the guest’s contact for future promotions.
5. Social Presence: Entice and Share
Eighty percent of social media time is spent on mobile devices. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other channels will become the main digital spaces of information and dialogue.
To be part of the conversation related to its activity, directly or indirectly, the hotel must actively manage its own page. How to interact with people and engage them?
By keeping your target audience in mind and also the content that interest them: suggestive images of the hotel and the area surrounding it, updates on new services that are being offered, previews on the latest specialties served at the restaurant, and special offers but without exaggerating the content.
Whatever your audience likes is shared, thus promoting your brand spontaneously. To better organize the topics to publish and coordinate various social channels among them and with other online activities, it is essential to build a content strategy. Including videos is fundamental as well: according to Google, 106 million users who are using YouTube monthly are travelers and 64 percent of those who are planning to go on a trip watch a video during online searches. Images, sounds and words, skillfully mixed together, excite and engage more than any other content.
6. Mobile Ads: Broaden Your Audience
In addition to Google’s organic search and spontaneously shared content on social media, part of the budget must be invested in advertising. Paying for ad spaces on mobile only works if you are catering to what your target wants and what is near them. That is why you must carefully analyze your potential customer before creating a campaign, so as to choose the content and the right channels.
Related Article: Marketing to the Mobile Man and the Mobile Woman
The two main places where you can advertise your business are social media and Google.
- Social Ads: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels collects a lot of data on their users. For this reason, you can carry out targeted campaigns, by geographic area or interest. Having a well-segmented target is more cost-effective and can bring good results.
- Google and Hotel Ads: In addition to AdWords, Google has thought of a specific opportunity for hoteliers, the Hotel Ads. Sponsored hotels are highlighted when people seek accommodation in a certain area, with a possibility of direct booking. Moreover, the hotel pays only if booking is made. Thanks to this kind of ad, the hotel chain La Quinta now gets most of its total leads from smartphones.
7. Location: The Right Hotel at the Right Time
Unlike before and thanks to mobile, making reservations are increasingly on-the-go, while the user is on the road and just a few hours away from the destination. For this reason, a strategic move is to use geolocation technology when advertising your hotel so that they your messages will reach travelers who are nearby.
Mobile coupons, push, and SMS notifications are just some of the tools that you can use. A practical example of geolocation: Best Western created a localized mobile campaign targeting people near airports or the hotel’s competitors. The ads invited people to book directly from their mobile device or to display a map showing the nearest hotel.
The result was a CTR of 2.3 percent, which is significantly higher than the average result obtained by ads of this kind that stands at around 0.8 percent.
An even more targeted strategy is geo-fencing, which restricts the location to the immediate vicinity of the hotel or its interior spaces. In this way, hoteliers will know where their guests are and send them offers in real time.
A Question Before Departing
It is said that the beauty of a trip is not the destination, but the journey itself. The ultimate goal of a hotel’s mobile strategy is to make sure that people discover and appreciate its facilities from the moment they start dreaming about their trip to the time they arrive at their destination and possibly even after returning home.
We showed you how to achieve this goal in seven points, but there certainly are other ways to do this. Have you used any of the tools mentioned above? Which other ones are effective?