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Mid-Year Review: The Rising Tide of Mobile Bookings - How Hoteliers Can Stay Afloat.
By Max Starkov
Tuesday, 29th July 2014
 
In the first half of 2014, the massive shift from desktop to mobile and tablet devices continues its rigorous pace and now over 42% of web visitors and nearly 38% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet), while nearly 16% of bookings and 19% of room nights came from tablets and mobile devices.

The explosion of non-desktop customer engagements presents a major challenge to hotel marketers: creating and managing a digital presence across three distinct distribution and marketing channels (desktop, mobile, and tablet).

No doubt, hoteliers must invest in and take advantage this multi-channel, multi-device world we live in.

The Shift from Desktop to Mobile and Tablet is Irreversible:

Across HeBS Digital’s hotel client portfolio, consisting of thousands of hotel properties, we saw this shift occur in every data category.

Sources of Traffic and Revenue by Device Category in First Half of 2014:
4Hoteliers Image Library
The most notable developments in the First Half of 2014:

  • Over 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.
Compare this to just two years ago, the First Half of 2012, when: 
  • Non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet) generated:
    - Less than 17% of web visitors and 14% of page views
    - Less than 7% of bookings, 6% of roomnights and 7% of revenue.
The Disruptive Shift Continues Year-over-Year:

We are witnessing continuous year-over-year growth in the mobile and tablet device categories, while the desktop continues to lose ground.

Percent Increase/Decrease in Results in First Half 2014 vs. First Half 2013:
4Hoteliers Image Library
The most notable developments in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013:
  • Hotel website visitors to desktop websites declined by nearly 16%, while increasing by nearly 51% via mobile.
  • Mobile bookings increased by over 86% while mobile revenue increased by 123%, an indication that savvy hoteliers are improving their mobile presence and usability of their mobile websites and booking engines, as well as that travel consumers are becoming more comfortable transacting via their smartphones.  
  • All the desktop metrics are on the decline, year-over-year, most notably number of visitors and pageviews.
  • Though the iPad continues to be the king of tablets, bookings via tablet devices outside iPad increased by nearly 96% and revenue by nearly 94% YoY.
What Should Hoteliers Do About It?

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:

Hoteliers should treat all three screens as separate marketing, distribution and customer engagement channels and should optimize their presence in all three channels to provide the best user experience on each device (desktop, mobile, tablet). 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. 

Multi-channel marketing should become the centerpiece of every hotel marketer’s overall strategy. In today’s multi-device, multi-touch world, digital marketing must be handled in a multi-channel campaign fashion to reach consumers at every touch point. All three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet) must be integrated in the hotel’s marketing strategy. 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.

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, like HeBS Digital’s award-winning CMS Premium 6.0, 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 is a must for any hotelier. 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 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.

About the Author and HeBS Digital

Max Starkov is President and CEO of HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry’s leading digital technology + website design, full-service digital marketing and website revenue optimization consulting firm, based in New York City (www.HeBSdigital.com).

HeBS Digital has pioneered many of the best practices in hospitality digital technology and full-service digital marketing, social and mobile marketing, and direct online channel distribution. The firm has won over 250 prestigious industry awards for its digital marketing and website design services, including numerous Adrian Awards, Davey Awards, W3 Awards, WebAwards, Magellan Awards, Summit International Awards, Interactive Media Awards, IAC Awards, etc.

A diverse client portfolio of top-tier major hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel brands, resorts and casinos, hotel management companies, franchisees and independents, and CVBs are benefiting from HeBS Digital’s direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise. Contact HeBS Digital’s consultants at (212) 752-8186 or success@hebsdigital.com.
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