Are you tired of hearing about mobile yet? Well, too bad. Mobile is on the move in several ways that could impact your hotel bookings directly.
Welcome to the third and final segment of our 2016 Travel Trends series. We’ve already covered Emerging Travel Segments and Disruption in the OTA Space. Now, we’ll explore a topic that has been front and center for quite a few years already and shows no sign of disappearing any time soon.
Learn how the mobile landscape is changing and what your hotel needs to plan for in 2016.
1.) Mobile Tipping Point
The mobile tipping point – what does that mean? Just last year Google announced that more than 50% of searches take place on a mobile device for searchers in 10 major countries, including the United States. This number reached an all-time high October 2015 when Google announced that more than 50% of searches are performed on a mobile device worldwide.
This number will only continue to climb and will have several implications for the travel industry. For both hotels and travel sites, expect mobile traffic to continue to climb and be prepared to make adjustments to your website and marketing to accommodate these users.
2.) Wearable Technology
“Mobile” is no longer specific to just a mobile phone. Tablets, wearables, and essentially anything else electronic that can easily to transported can fall into this category. 1 in 6 people currently own and use a smart watch or mobile fitness tracker and that number is only expected to grow. And, though smartwatches have had a slow early adoption rate, it is estimated that they will make up over 50% of the wearable tech market by 2020.
The Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear currently dominate the smartwatch market but expect more companies to develop and release variations over the next year. Designer brands, in particular, are expected to enter the market with products that are both highly functional and aesthetically appealing. And, as more options flood the market, expect an uptick in usage.
What will this mean for travel? The limited screen space could provide several challenges and will make simplicity key for a pleasant user experience. Smartwatches have apps just as smartphones do and travel companies need to consider whether smartwatch app development makes sense for their needs. Check-ins for flights and hotels present an obvious opportunity, as does the ability to dictate messages or make direct calls for customer service or a concierge. And, further mobile wallet integrations could mean the possibility to pay for goods and services directly via a smartwatch. Though no hotels currently have smartwatch apps available it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility for 2016.
3.) Mobile Friendly No Longer An Option
The influx of mobile searches and mobile devices flooding the market means one thing: “mobile friendly” is no longer an option. Though responsive web design is the preferred method of achieving this, mobile specific is certainly not out of the question; each option presents its own pros and cons. The important thing is that your hotel or travel website needs to be mobile friendly, for several reasons.
First and foremost, user experience. Having a solid user-experience across multiple screens is crucial. How do you expect someone to easily find information about your hotel or brand much less actually complete a booking or transaction if they cannot easily navigate or figure out how to use your website?
If that’s not persuasive enough, consider the fact that Google rolled out a mobile-friendly algorithm update in April, 2015 and being mobile-friendly is now factored into search results rankings. Search engines are paying attention to the influx of mobile traffic and are rewarding sites that provide a positive mobile user-experience.
That being said, if you have not converted to a mobile friendly website format – the time is now. Plan now for a website redesign in your 2016 budget or expect your search traffic and overall mobile performance metrics to suffer.
4.) Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are all the rage and several corporate hotel groups began jumping on the bandwagon in 2014 and 2015. This trend is expected to continue as existing hotel apps continue to evolve and improve and as new hotels, particularly independent hotels, begin to enter the app market.
As of 2015, 54% of digital time is spent on mobile apps. And, users ages 18-34 spend over 80 hours a month using mobile apps. As one might assume, millennials lead the pack for the highest percentage of app usage, but other age demographics aren’t far behind and app usage as a whole continues to grow.
Keeping those stats in mind, it might be time for your hotel to consider entering the mobile app space. The decision will rely heavily the balance between investing in the app itself and then promoting and utilizing the app to its fullest potential to maximize visitor usage and revenue generation features.
The major pros of having a dedicated mobile app for your hotel include express check-in and check-out features, a direct line of access to customer service or a concierge for customer needs, and easily accessibly property and area information, all of which serve to keep your guests happy and to minimize the stress on the front desk during peak times. Additionally, mobile apps have the potential to serve as an additional revenue stream with add-ons and upgrades. Prompting and persuading the guest to use the mobile app and to accept push notifications will also increase app usage while on property and potentially increase brand loyalty in the long run.
The downside? App development has the potential to quickly escalate into a costly endeavor, particularly when one takes into consideration the functionality of existing apps. While this might prevent many hotels, particularly independent hotels, from even considering mobile app development as an option – think again. Fuel has developed a customizable mobile app for hotels that offers a full slew of functionality and that can be completely personalized on a per property basis, making it easier than ever for your hotel to get into the hands of consumers.
As you can see, mobile is going to continue to be a huge game changer in the travel space. How was mobile changed your hotel marketing strategy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.