I’ve written countless blogs and talked a lot about the importance of mobile searches on the #AskAviArya show. But let’s be honest – have you fully leveraged its value yet? I meet a lot of hoteliers and marketing managers during conferences, my talks, or for coffee etc. Off late I’ve realised many of them don’t do enough to optimize their mobile websites. While they have invested in a beautifully designed website, the booking engines still feel like they’ve been designed by amateurs. Mostly the layout is poor, and the box is hanging off screen. Usually the CTA is so small I’ve to get my son to click on it because my fingers are too big for it.
A common argument that I face is – “Avi, our guests use mobiles to research and find inspiration; they still don’t feel secure entering their payment details on phone.”
I refuse to buy that argument. Consider what transactions people have started completing on their phone. More than 50% of millennials already confirm bookings on smartphones or tablets. Not to mention people are now even installing their bank’s apps in their phones to streamline all transactions.
I get it – changing the whole booking engine technology can be a tough task. But let’s talk business. If you haven’t fully optimized the booking engine for mobiles, you’re losing out on a lot of revenue. With the same traffic, your conversions can increase by about 50%.
I have gathered some tips and tricks on how you can optimize the booking engine for mobiles. Read on –
- Not all ‘Mobile devices’ are the same
Mobile devices can include both smartphones and tablets. Make sure that your website is responsive to both. Since they use different methods of managing space and aspect ratios, make sure the design caters to that. There is also a difference in the way they are used. Smartphone users typically want their information fast and quick, and hate lags. Instead of bogging them down with an endless river of room images, make more space for check-in dates and a prominent button that says “Book Now!”
A tablet user is someone who doesn’t prefer the smaller screens of smartphones, but would rather sit comfortably with a device in his hand and then book. A clear overview is important for them too.
- Live ‘App’ily ever after
Not just a well-designed space, a dedicated app lets you do many other great things. You can integrate loyalty programs, keyless entry feature, upselling etc. Any cool factor will make your guests download the app. And once they have it installed, they will use it for future bookings, not some OTA. Most importantly, app is the perfect way to establish a brand.
- Lightning fast and super secure
Mobile booking engines should be as secure, if not more, than desktops and laptops. Once the booking is confirmed, even vouchers and receipt should be re-formatted and optimized for phones. Guests can bookmark these vouchers or save a copy of barcode on their phone, letting them check-in easily.
Also, if you have one of those archaic websites that still uses flash – say goodbye to it. Flash still doesn’t work on a lot of devices. It’s also particularly prone to hackers.
- Butter smooth integration with website
The transition from browsing rooms to checking rates should be as smooth as possible. To get this in order, the mobile website and booking engine should be integrated as a single direct booking platform. It will help improve the user experience a lot. Not just that, it will help you formulate optimized pricing strategies and work more efficiently.
- Don’t play hide and seek with guests
A large number of visitors to your hotel website are quick scanning for important details like prices and amenities. If these are hard to locate, they won’t hang around for much long. Making the booking process as easy to navigate as possible will increase your conversions. Here’s the checklist to getting the basics of conversion spot on – a distraction free design, prominent search engine, and a visually attractive Book Now button.
Lemon Tree Hotels have one of the best mobile booking processes in India
When was the last time you picked up your mobile and tried to complete a booking? Do that now and chances are that you are going to be disappointed.
Still want to stick around with that clunky old booking engine? It’s time you realise that the mobile guest is as important for conversions as research and inspiration. You need to take care of them, and so does your booking engine.
If this blog inspires you to keep your website in the best of health, I recommend you watch the latest episodes of the #AskAviArya show as I talk with Nicholas Bayerle, founder of The Billion Dollar Body. Check out the trailer here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeiBonBqQno