It’s official! Google has confirmed that more searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 different countries, including the United States. We have seen the reports from Expedia predicting that 30% of travel will be booked on mobile in 2015, and Gartner predicting by 2018 50% of all online activity will begin on a mobile device. Hearing it from Google itself certainly makes it hit home. Being an agency focused on hospitality marketing, Fuel has taken notice of these trends and has been preparing for this shift in behavior, and how it may affect our hotel clients as well as the guests who interact with our sites and software.
Google Hotel Ads On Mobile Devices
The booking process has not been lost on Google either. Since they introduced their Hotel Ads platform to mobile search results, users are now able to Google search for hotels in a desired city, click into Hotel Ads, browse available rates, and visit the site that offers the best rate for their desired dates. Being a part of Google’s Hotel Ads is becoming increasingly important for hotels, particularly since the majority of people will now resort to their phone as their initial search when looking for a place to stay. Not having a presence on Google Hotel Ads can be a huge factor on whether a hotel gets a booking. Not only does Hotel Ads act as first touch brand awareness, it is also very much a viable source for entering a booking engine through non-branded search terms. At Fuel, we see as more people continue to search on their phone, more people will continue to book via their phone. Hotel Ads is a surefire way to get users who are ready to buy straight from a Google search to the booking engine.
Who Needs A Laptop Anymore?
We know that by now almost all travelers, especially in tourist markets, are carrying their mobile device on them throughout their vacation. Fewer and fewer are bringing their laptop because they can do anything they need right from their phone. Bringing a laptop on vacation can be a bit cumbersome since it takes up valuable packing space and becomes a hassle going through TSA. Not to mention the fact that smartphones and wearable tech are continually becoming more popular, cheaper, and an essential part of the booking and check-in process
Hotel Apps Will Take Over The Entire Process
Guests will soon be able to book their vacation, get express check-in, unlock their room, interact with staff and turn on the television right from their mobile device. Hotels are realizing the capabilities available through today’s apps and it’s becoming easier to see how all guest interactions will be changed by a simple hotel app download.
Using Apps To Book
As the trend of searching on mobile devices continues its path, so will booking online. We’ve already seen apps start to take over mobile search results and the hotel industry is definitely not being left out. Hotels as well as OTAs are both beginning to understand how important this is. We can see it in this screenshot of an AdWords ad for a hotel booking app from Hotels Tonight. Hotels and OTAs will not only be competing for website clicks through Adwords, but also app downloads.
Bypassing Front Desks With Apps
Guests can now download branded hotel apps and book their hotel room directly from their phone. The Starwood Hotels’ new app, for example, provides a full booking process solution that requires no interaction between hotel front desk and the guest, not even for a room key – a revolutionary concept. The Starwood app gives guests their room number and a Bluetooth key, which allows them to unlock their door using a personal device. We at Fuel anticipate for technology solutions like this to continue to grow in popularity and become more and more mainstream.
Wearable devices can even handle express check-ins now as we’ve seen with Marriott’s new Apple Watch app. This app finds the nearest Marriott hotel, allows you to check-in with the information on the watch, and even lets you know when your room is ready. Use the Starwood Bluetooth model with this app and we’ll have booking to check-in straight from a watch or whatever wearable is popular next. Again, this type of technology solution is only continues to grow as more and more of the population enters into the wearable tech market.
In Room App Usage
Taking the mobile process a step further, guests will even be able to control the television, order room service, request housekeeping, offer concierge services, and express check out. This adds an added level of convenience and gives guests the ability to decide just how much interaction they want to have with front desk and hotel staff. Also, hotels would much rather get a complaint sent straight to a nearby staff member who can solve the problem rather than a scathing review online for all to see. Managing guest experience is paramount now that consumers have the ability to tell the world what they thought about their stay.
Guest Experience Analytics
Booking, check-in and guest experience apps can be as helpful for hotels as they are for the guest. Fuel’s Guest Express App includes analytics so hoteliers can take control of their occupancy, streamline check-ins, and understand which features and channels are most effective for their hotel. This could mean hotels will be able to gather email addresses, analyze which app features guests use most, which are most profitable, and which can lead to positive reviews. Look for Fuel’s Guest Express app to officially launch at booth #927 at HITEC 2015 in Austin, TX.
This scenario will continue to get better and more streamlined. Guests will demand more from their mobile devices and apps. Hotels will demand more capabilities from app developers. The early adopters will be the first to gain the insight on the growth of guest interaction with this technology and how hotels can use that information to create the optimal booking process, start to finish.