People are starting to catch on, that user experience intensely affects direct booking. But one aspect is becoming more and more important as technology develops. That’s right, friends, we need to talk about how your internet booking engine interacts with mobile devices.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel predicts that by 2017 one third of all travel bookings will be done on a mobile device
Google Research reports that 83% of leisure travelers have had a bad experience trying to book using a mobile device, and only 23% of them pushed on to book using a mobile device. That’s a huge amount of potential customers lost due to a bad IBE interface, funneling more of your business to OTAs. Business travelers prefer to book directly using a hotel’s website, rather than using an OTA. Plus, if your site is compatible to mobile devices, your search engine rating at Google will go up, and you’ll be easier to find. These are opportunities that you don’t want to miss!
I know what you’re thinking, “but, I have a website set up using responsive design!”
Using responsive design on your website is just a start in the process of attacking this problem. Is it all you need to gain back those lost customers? Well, as I said, it’s a good start, but it’s not the only thing you need to do.
Tips and tricks for proper internet booking engine optimization
- Not all mobile devices display websites the same.
Even the phrase ‘mobile devices’ conjures up a whole lot of confusion. Are we talking about smartphones or tablets? Make sure that your website responds correctly to both. Design plays a huge role here, since tablets and smartphones have very different ways of managing space.
- Not all devices are used the same way.
Someone who books via a smartphone wants information fast, and they want to book fast. They don’t need an endless stream of pictures of your breakfast buffet, they need space to enter in the dates they need, a description of the room, and a button that says “Book Now!” A tablet user is more than likely someone who used to book via a desktop computer, but now would rather book comfortably sitting on the sofa than firing up the old desktop. Nevertheless, they want a clear overview of rooms, and a quick path to booking them. For both, one thing is clear: the simpler, the better.
- If you have one of those archaic websites still using flash, get rid of it.
Your programmer will look at you in awe, proud to welcome you into the present. For one, it’s prone to hackers. No one wants that. Two, in case you haven’t noticed, flash doesn’t work on a lot of mobile devices.
- Get your own app!
That’s right, I said it. The dreaded ‘A’ word seems to be popping up all over the place in regard to booking. There are so many great things that you can do with an app, not just create a well designed space for booking. In the app itself, you can integrate upselling opportunities, loyalty programs, and even cool things like keyless entry. Combining functions into an app is a smart thing to do because even if your customers book through an OTA, your app will create an added value and cool factor that makes them want to download it. Once it’s on their device, they’ll go back to the app, not the OTA, and book a room for a return visit. An app can also help establish your brand. Who doesn’t want that?
All in all, the thing to remember is to get started now!
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Dennis Lamb is a man of many faces: writer, pedagogue, musician, and avid traveler. Born and raised in the United States, he now lives in Munich, Germany, where he has made a name for himself in the English teaching world. When not working, he can be found travelling through Europe, or at home playing with his pug.