Since April 21, 2015, Google has been encouraging businesses to pay more attention to the mobile versions of their websites. Searchers not only see whether the website supports mobile viewing, but those websites that do are also being favoured in the SERPs. This is a sure sign for every industry to heavily invest in mobile optimization.
This refers to hotels as well. The fact is that more and more customers are now booking travel online via mobile devices, and with mobile traffic growing every month, many hotels now realize the need to have a mobile-friendly website.
How can your website be delivered for mobile?
Essentially, there are three ways to make a website usable for mobile devices:
Create a separate, mobile version of the website
Optimize your website to adapt to mobile screens and have a responsive website
Develop your own mobile app
At first, building a mobile version of the website was a practice that many companies embraced, but technology made it possible to build responsive websites, which essentially means that you can have one website that will adapt to the user’s screen size.
In addition, there is the option of building a mobile app for your hotel. However, past experiences show that a hotel app rarely gets the attention they deserve! The only apps that get noticed and regularly used in the hotel sector are the big international chains.
Also, studies have shown that only 16% of mobile apps are opened twice. And what Google discovered in its study back in 2014, is that the majority of travellers start their research via search engines.
There are some ongoing debates about whether hotels should be using native apps or responsive websites. However, the truth is that the majority of travellers will rather use mobile apps of the consolidators, such as Expedia or Booking.com. Additionally, according to a study by Yahoo, 73% of users are more likely to use a mobile responsive website than an app.
Why is a responsive website better than a stand alone mobile version?
When someone builds a mobile version of their website what they’re are essentially doing is building another website that looks better on devices with a smaller screen. This means that you will have an entirely new website, for which you will have to build authority from scratch.
However, link building for the mobile version can be a little tough since when someone decide to place a link, they will rather do it from their computers and, accordingly, link to the desktop version. Managing 2 sets of content for 2 separate websites can also be a challenge!
Moreover, having a mobile version doesn’t necessarily mean that it will look perfect on all screen sizes. On the other hand, responsive websites are prepared for all screen sizes due to their adaptive nature.
What this means is that it also saves you time and money in the long term. You only need to have one website, which will adapt to any screen size and thus, develop and update only one website instead of updating multiple versions whenever you have new content.
How can mobile responsiveness help your hotel website?
There are numerous benefits for making your hotel website mobile friendly. The fact that mobile internet browsing surpassed desktop internet usage in February 2014, means that most of your potential customers are probably looking for you via smartphones and tablets, but they can’t reach you.
Trying to browse a non-responsive website with a smartphone, is the most irritating thing ever. Buttons and text are too small, users have to zoom in to read, they struggle to navigate properly, can’t find the information they came looking for, etc. which technically leads them to just leave the page.
Additionally, pictures and videos cause problems that are not that easy to overcome. If those are bigger than the screen, the user can only see a part of the media or fail to load it completely, instantly rendering all your content pretty much useless, to say the least.
Number of hotel bookings via mobile are increasing
According to the research that was done by Criteo, hotel bookings coming from mobile are steadily increasing, reaching 23% in 2015. Moreover, 60% of bookings that come from mobile are booked on the same day. This means that if a user searches for a room and finds what he needs right away, most likely he will make a reservation. Therefore, it is essential to have your booking system compatible with mobile in order to stay competitive.
Boosts SEO rankings
As of 21st of April, when Google announced changes in terms of how they look at mobile responsive websites, every business is obliged to be friendly towards the mobile viewport if they hope to appear on SERPs.
Another problem that might arise if your website is not adapted to mobile is the high bounce rate. When your bounce rate is too high, Google interprets this as a sign that your website isn't valuable to people who come across it and push it further down the search results, even if you have the best possible content to offer your visitors.
Prepare for the future
There is no doubt that technology will become even more sophisticated as time goes by. Even today, we can see all sort of devices capable of doing things that we could not have imagined 10 years ago. Staying up-to-date with current tech features is the best way to prepare for whatever the future holds.
It's pretty simple. If your hotel has a website that isn't optimized for mobile, you are losing money. How much? Probably a ton.
It's important not to focus on mobile optimization as something that is just “mandatory, do or die” thing. Rather, it should be considered as an opportunity to reach new and more connected part of society who, nowadays, travel a lot and uses smartphones to make reservations online.