The massive shift from desktop to mobile and tablet devices continued its rigorous pace.
Last year over 38% of web visitors and nearly 40% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet), while nearly 21% of bookings and 17% of room nights came from tablets and mobile devices.
NB: This is an analysis by Max Starkov, president and CEO of HeBS Digital.
In this multi-device world "inhabited" by always-connected travel consumers, hotel marketers face a major challenge:
Creating and managing a digital presence across three distinct distribution and marketing channels (desktop, mobile, and tablet).
This means investing in technology that allows for the best user experience and maximum engagement regardless of device.
This explosion of non-desktop customer engagements also creates a tremendous upside opportunity for smart hoteliers who invest in and take advantage of this rising tide of mobile- and tablet-obsessed travel consumers.
The shift from desktop to mobile and tablet is irreversible
We saw this shift occur in every data category at thousands of hotel properties.
The most notable developments in 2014:
- Nearly 21% of bookings, 17% of room nights and 15% of revenue came from tablets and mobile devices. If we include voice reservations originating from the hotel mobile website, over 25% of bookings and revenue originate from the non-desktop channel.
- Over 38% of web visitors and nearly 40% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet).
- Tablets generated 226% more revenue and 77% more room nights than “pure” mobile devices.
- The iPad outperformed all other tablet devices and was responsible for nearly 97% of tablet revenue and over 91% of bookings.
Compare this to 2012, a mere two years ago, when non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet) generated:
The disruptive shift continues year-over-year
- Less than 9.5% of bookings, 8.6% of room nights and 9% of revenue.
- Less than 17% of web visitors and 14% of page views.
We are witnessing continuous year-over-year growth in the mobile and tablet device categories, while the desktop continues to lose ground.
The most notable developments in 2014 compared to 2013:
What should hoteliers do about it?
- Mobile bookings increased by over 36% while mobile revenue increased by 114%, an indication travel consumers are becoming more comfortable transacting via their smartphones.
- All the desktop metrics are on the decline, year-over-year. Desktop website bookings declined by 4.4%, while visitors declined by over 13%.
- Though the iPad continues to be the king of tablets, bookings via tablet devices outside iPad increased by nearly 70% and revenue by nearly 144% YoY.
Rephrased, what should hoteliers be doing to meet the challenges created by this dramatic shift from desktop to mobile and tablet?
To begin with, hotel marketers should view these challenges as new opportunities for revenue generation and customer engagement across all three "screens": desktop, mobile and tablet.
Here are a few actions steps to help hoteliers address this multi-device user behavior we are seeing today:
Investing in your property website to maximize revenue from the three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet) is paramount to the very existence of your property.
Coupled with a robust, well-funded digital marketing strategy, this will allow you to improve your property’s bottom line and leave the comp set in the dust.
A property website must incorporate the right balance of excellent design, state-of-the-art digital technology, a merchandising strategy, and engaging visual and textual content, all while providing an optimum user experience from top to bottom on every device (desktop, mobile and tablet).
This type of website will result in a boost in conversions and revenues from the direct online channel.
How can you know your website is due for an upgrade?
If your property website is two or more years old, does not offer responsive or adaptive design, does not support dynamic content personalization or dynamic rate marketing, or does not have state-of-the-art merchandising and reservation abandonment prevention capabilities, then it is time to make the upgrade.
Where do you start? If, after reviewing the questions above, you decide it’s time to upgrade your website, then leaving (or creating) room in the budget for this important initiative is the logical first step.
The second step should be deciding on whether to go with Responsive Website Design (RWD) or Adaptive Web Design (AWD), also known as Responsive Design on Server Side/RESS, the two prevailing website design approaches for meeting the needs of our multi-screen device world.
Choose Full Responsive Design for simpler and "thinner content" websites and Adaptive Web Design for more upscale properties and/or complex websites with deeper content.
Speaking of providing the best user experience and maximizing revenue from the three screens, your website should utilize a next generation Content Management System (CMS) that allows for unlimited content control of the website, and enables the property to take full advantage of next-generation capabilities such as content personalization and complete merchandising capabilities.
The degree that CMS technology can negatively affect revenues on the property website is often underestimated by hoteliers.
Choose a CMS technology that empowers you to seamlessly manage your website presence on the three screens via a single dashboard, engage users like never before and maximize revenues from the direct online channel.
Choose a CMS that enables your website to offer dynamic content personalization to fit the interests and preferences of website visitors and provides one-to-one marketing capabilities to drastically increase conversion rates and revenues.
Your CMS should also feature a deep integration with the CRM and CRS to improve guest recognition and merchandising.
Use multichannel marketing to integrate all three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet) in the hotel’s marketing strategy.
The average consumer goes through various different touch points and uses multiple devices when planning and booking a trip.
According to Google, the average length in days before a purchase is 24 and average site visits before the purchase is 21.6.
Keeping the consumer engaged and reaching them multiple times throughout their journey (through which you will also be competing with the OTAs and other hotel websites) requires using multiple channels to tell your hotel’s story.
These campaigns utilize the right combination of online channels effectively (paid search, email marketing, SEO, online media, social media, etc.) to promote one campaign theme.
This strategy is the most effective way to increase reach and boost revenues for a need period.
Begin planning your multichannel campaign by determining the business needs of your property.
- Do you need to fill rooms at the last minute because a group cancelled?
- Does your sales team need help booking meetings and events?
- Are your weekends booked solid, with weekdays much less so?
Once you have determined your property’s business needs, the next step is to develop a theme for your campaign, followed by laying out which initiatives you will use to promote your campaign (your website, paid search, SEO, email marketing, social media, retargeting, etc.).
Resist the temptation to launch campaigns and analyze their results in silos.
By looking at the campaign results in their entirety, you will have a much more accurate idea of how the campaign performed and see how different marketing initiatives worked together to drive bookings.
Use the right website analytics to track customer engagements, conversions and user behavior across the three screens, allowing you to make quick tweaks to your online presence that result in higher revenues and a better user experience.
This data could also help justify the investment in technology needed to maximize revenue from all devices and channels.
In addition, with over 38% of website visitors utilizing the non-desktop channel, call analytics is a must for any hotelier.
Call analytics or "offline reservation tracking" is now more important than ever: the majority of mobile bookings are still coming via the voice channel. Use sophisticated analytics – such as Adobe Analytics – to determine contributions from and the dynamics of each of the three channels.
NB: This is an analysis by Max Starkov, president and CEO of HeBS Digital.
NB2:Hotels mobile selfie image via Shutterstock.