The massive shift from desktop to mobile and tablet devices continues its rigorous pace, and the change is not limited to the major global hotel companies.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Max Starkov, CEO at HeBS Digital, a marketing consultancy.
In the first half of 2014, nearly 16% of bookings and 19% of room nights were booked on tablets and smartphones, according to a look at the actual bookings of more than 1,000 properties, primarily in the US and Canada.
These are mostly independent hotels, resorts, casinos, and small and midsize regional chains.
An even more impressive statistic: More than 42% of web visitors and nearly 38% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet), among the properties managed by our clients.
Compare the above figures to just two years ago, the first half of 2012, when non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet) generated fewer than 17% of web visitors and 14% of page views and fewer than 7% of bookings, 6% of room nights, and 7% of revenue.
The explosion of non-desktop customer engagements presents a major challenge to hotel marketers: How can they create a digital presence across three distinct distribution and marketing channels (desktop, mobile, and tablet).
Here are the most notable developments of the first half of 2014:
- 41% of web visitors and nearly 38% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet).
- Nearly 16% of bookings, 19% of room nights and 14% 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 originates from the non-desktop channel.
- Tablets generated 224% more room nights and 283% more revenue than “pure” mobile devices.
- The iPad outperformed all other tablet devices and was responsible for 95% of tablet revenue and over 85% of visitors. (This partly reflects the popularity of the iPad in the US market.)
How should hotel managers respond?
The figures suggest that savvy hoteliers are improving their mobile presence and usability of their mobile websites and booking engines.
But there is more than can be done to generate revenue and engage with customers to build loyalty:
Hoteliers should treat all three screens — desktop, mobile and tablet — as separate marketing, distribution, and customer engagement channels.
They should optimize their presence in all three channels to provide the best user experience on each device (desktop, mobile, tablet).
These campaigns should 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.
Hotels should serve the right website content (textual, visual, pricing and promotional content) in the right device category (desktop, mobile, tablet) while ensuring the maximum user experience, relevancy of information and conversions.
Technology available today allows for a hotel to manage all digital content in one place, yet still provide a customized user experience for each device.
This technology—adaptive web design, aka Responsive Design on Server Side (RESS), does the work for the hotelier, meaning they don’t have to manage three different websites.
This dramatic shift makes year-over-year web analytics meaningless and necessitates the need for sophisticated analytics.
Tracking every dollar spent, as well as visitor behavior across the three screens, will allow hotel marketers to make quick tweaks to their online presence that result in higher revenues and a better user experience.
This data could also help hoteliers justify the investment in technology needed (are you seeing low bookings from mobile or tablet users and need to invest in RESS?).
In addition, with over 41% of website visitors utilizing the non-desktop channel, call analytics — or “offline reservation tracking” — is now more important than ever: the majority of mobile bookings come via the voice channel.
A recent case study by HeBS Digital and Navis demonstrated how a whopping 44% of a property’s online marketing revenue was made through voice reservations, thus leading to a shift in marketing spend and increased return on investments (ROIs) for the client.
Use sophisticated analytics – such as Adobe Omniture SiteCatalyst – to determine contributions from and the dynamics of each of the three channels.
The three screens are only the beginning.
We have yet to tackle the new threats and opportunities arising from wearable devices, connected car devices, etc. In the very near future we will be talking about a 5, 6, or 7-screen digital marketing and distribution world.
Putting into place a multi-channel marketing the centerpiece of an overall strategy will enable hotel marketers to be prepared for what’s coming next in the industry, too.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Max Starkov, CEO at HeBS Digital, a marketing consultancy in New York City. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative. Max blogs and tweets regularly about hotel digital marketing.
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