Why Your Mobile Strategy Must be Focused on More than “Last Minute” Travelers

Consumer markets know and understand that consumers typically fall into unique segments that shop and buy based on different needs. In travel, consumer segments play a huge role in understanding how and why consumers progress through the 5 Stages of Travel at different paces, spending varying amounts of time at each stage. That being said, for the most part they enjoy dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing, and most prefer that this process not be rushed.

But what happens when it is rushed and booking must be done on the fly? When consumers need to book same-day hotels, the first two stages get forgotten and consumers have to act quickly to book a room.

Without the time to dream and plan, consumers must turn to the resources they have on hand to book a room: increasingly this is becoming their mobile devices. With no access to desktop computers or a travel agent, travelers are browsing on their smartphones and tablets.

Hotels are noticing a large amount of their same-day bookings are coming from mobile devices. 65% of people who made same-day reservations booked through their mobile devices, compared to (a not so impressive) 14% who made their reservations from a desktop computer, as stated by Orbitz in this article.

In the past, same-day booking was frustrating. Walking up to a hotel’s front desk to inquire about prices made it time consuming and difficult to compare prices. Fast forward, now last minute travelers can use their smart phones to easily pull up a hotel’s mobile optimized website to make “shopping around” quick and painless.

Consumers using mobile devices often don’t have the time (or the patience) to search around your hotel’s website. If they don’t like what they see immediately, they will look elsewhere. To counter this you should ensure your hotel’s mobile website is laid out in a way that allows users to find what they’re looking for quickly. The easier it is for consumers to navigate your site, the higher the conversion. Tabs for photos, special offers and hotel information are a good idea, and should be easily clickable and in a readable size for the device the consumer is using.

All this being said, the vast majority of consumers that shop for hotels on mobile devices are not necessarily booking on them. According to a Tealeaf/ebookers study concluded about mobile shoppers, “78 per cent still prefer using other means to purchase travel packages while 17 per cent of respondents have researched a holiday on a mobile app or mobile website, only 3 per cent have booked the same way”. Further in a Google/thinktravel study 68% of business travelers and 61% of leisure travelers researched an upcoming trip on their mobile device. The lesson here: consumers are spending time at the top end of the funnel (dreaming and planning) on mobile devices so ensure your mobile optimized website has the information they want to help them with their shopping.

Your mobile website doesn’t need to be a stripped down version of your desktop site. It needs the features and content consumers rely upon to help with their shopping decision, including engaging visuals, hotel details, booking options, integrated social media, special offers, map and contact information.

Mobile is increasingly becoming an important channel for hotel marketers. Whether it’s “last minute” travelers or long-term planners, ensure consumers experience your hotel in a way that is optimized for the device they are using and that your site provides content in rich and engaging ways. This demand should be on the agenda of every hotel marketer today.

To learn more about how to optimize your web experience for hotel shoppers read our recently published white paper “Seven Must-Haves for a Great Hotel Mobile Website


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