How many times a day do you grab your smartphone to check a message, go online or do another task? It’s probably more times than you think. In 2015, people in the U.S. checked their phones an average of 46 times a day, up from 33 daily looks the previous year. Aside from affirming that we really love our phones, these figures give us a peek into the growing influence mobile technology has on consumers. Travel industry mobile data is showing that planning and purchasing behavior is changing, so independent hotels must put some serious thought into how to use mobile technology to engage travelers online and convert their curiosity into bookings.
Google has labeled consumers’ multiple, daily smartphone online glances as “micro-moments.” Their research shows that up to 90% of smartphone users rely on their phones to make incremental progress toward larger goals. Knowing that mobile users are travel planning in short, fractured time bursts, independent hotel operators should mold their mobile strategy to fit this behavior.
Here are a few mobile marketing tips for independent hotel operators:
1) Use mobile-optimized technology: Stating the obvious: you must use mobile-optimized technology to properly engage mobile users. Whether it’s an independent hotel or 3rd party partner site, the quality of its mobile design and user experience will ultimately dictate its success. Mobile websites must be flexible, fast loading, easy to read and have intuitive functions, otherwise users will simply do their planning and purchasing elsewhere.
2) Expand your mobile reach: Consumers are using their phones to piece together small bits of data to make larger decisions, so with mobile search for hotels expected to rise 49%, independent hotels need to strategically position themselves online. Hotels should leverage online travel agencies, social media and review sites to showcase their guest experience through detailed descriptions, high-quality photos and direct conversations with guests. The sum of the information collected from these various online channels is what drives travelers’ decision making and purchasing.
3) Mobile booking engine: Direct mobile bookings are great, revenue-driving opportunities for independent hotels, but a mobile booking engine is required to capitalize. A mobile booking engine enhances a hotel website by simplifying the booking process so travelers can quickly and easily find rates, view rooms and confirm reservations on their phones. Many independent hotel operators understand the challenges of funneling travelers into the online booking process, so as mobile bookings surge in popularity, hoteliers cannot afford to cannibalize their marketing efforts and potential sales by not providing travelers with a seamless mobile booking experience.