“Do I really need to have a mobile site? Doesn’t my website work just fine?” are a couple of questions often asked in conversation with hoteliers and at hospitality trade shows around the globe. Coincidentally, it happened to be the theme of many sessions at the Eye for Travel: Online Strategies for Travel 2014 Conference that I attended earlier this month. Let’s take a look and see what the panelists had to say…
Pat Mclnerney, Sr. Account Executive, from Google discussed the way mobile is shaping the future. In his presentation, Pat showed the audience studies by Google that clearly exhibited how smartphones are being used in all phases of travel decision-making, as well as throughout the entire travel process.
Phases of Travel – Smartphone Usage
- Inspiration 39%
- Research 47%
- Purchase 27%
- Experience 75%
- Post travel 58%
These traveler phase statistics are very important for the hospitality and tourism industry to pay attention to, especially when marketing. They prove that users switch between many different screen sizes (desktop, tablet, mobile) throughout their day, which means having a website display that is modified for each device is no longer optional, it’s essential in order to create a pleasing user experience. The consumer’s need to see what they want to see, when they want to see it, and how they choose to view the data is driving the behavior that digital marketers are embracing and using to their full advantage to get front of their target market. And research is showing the tourism and hospitality industry must catch up to their customers if they wish to stay in the game.
Since 2011 the smartphone and tablet gaps have closed according to Google Internal Data 2011, 2013 Global Enumeration Study. In 2011 smartphone penetration was 37% with mobile optimized sites at 20%. 2013 saw an increase in smartphone penetration to 65% and mobile optimized sites increase by 55%. What is becoming increasingly known is that having a mobile site made up of just a few of your main website pages is simply not enough. Consumer search has become so personalized that people want to see the same content and quality of information regardless of what device they’re using at the time – desktop, tablet, or mobile. Due to this demand, the shift for having a responsive web design site is critical to online success. Responsive design allows the consumer to see a website, bookmark that page, come back to that page on a different device and continue where they left off and be able to share the content with with family, friends or colleagues with ease.
Google research shows that our device interaction is spread between 4 primary screens throughout the day.  Check out these percentages they may surprise you…
Sequential screening – mobile phone/computer:
- 81% use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time
- 97% move between devices that day
Daily consumer media interaction:
- 36% mobile device
- 25% tablet
- 23% computer/laptop
- 23% television
Website vs App usage:
- 3% use apps more frequently
- 27% use both websites and apps equally
- 69% use websites more frequently
Now you might be asking, “Can I get away with a mobile app over a mobile website?” Both options have their advantages, but research is showing 69% of consumers go to the website more frequently than the app. In fact 67% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile phone on a mobile friendly website than a website only designed for desktop, and apps are currently not as trusted as their website counterparts. 
In conclusion, with the search and digital worlds changing to become more personalized, websites need to be responsive. This allows users to have the best experience possible on whatever device they happen to be using. At Milestone we recommend building an adaptive responsive site, which has many advantages. Adaptive responsive sites also provide faster download times and they automatically serve the best layout of the site for the screen size it’s being viewed on. In addition, Google highly recommends this strategy for SEO purposes as the site will render from a single URL regardless of the device it is being viewed on. Overall, these aspects lead to a more positive consumer experience, in turn making it easier for them to find needed information and book a room directly on your site.
Undoubtedly, mobile search will continue to grow. Is your marketing for hospitality and tourism in line with the latest trends? Find out more about responsive designs and how Milestone can help you ensure your brand is capturing your share of mobile traffic and bookings by contacting us at [email protected] or (408) 492-9055.
Tracy Connors, Regional Business Development Manager