There’s a short but eminently clear and to-the-point article on – of all places – the State of Indiana local government homepage about mobile websites. In the “Tourism Tech Corner” of the site, Jeremy Williams not only does a superb job of explaining why a mobile website is becoming vital for any hospitality-related business, but also drives home the fact that it’s becoming morevital with every passing month, since use of smart phones for Internet browsing is growing at a tremendous rate.
A torrent of stats from theBandBer.com today, all about the impact of social media and mobile on the accommodation sector. The dominant theme is that big hotel chains are investing more and more heavily in these areas. We all know that the invaluable thing about B&Bs and guest houses is the way they offer travellers a personal, human-scale experience which the chains can’t match – while frequently providing the same modern amenities at a much more reasonable price. But where the likes of Four Seasons go, other properties, of whatever size/type, tend to follow, sooner or later (think online booking and publishing reviews on websites.)
Anyway, here are the numbers…
We reported several times during 2012 on the importance of having a website that works well on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s easy – and perfectly understandable – for owners of B&Bs, cottages and guest houses to feel that this is an issue that only affects the big chain hotels at the moment. But, in many cases, whatever affects brand-name properties will affect smaller independents soon after (look, for example at online booking and social media) and the speed at which changes are filtering through the whole accommodation sector is increasing all the time.
A lot of statistics on subjects like online accommodation booking or the influence of social media on travel tend to hail from America, which always seems to be ahead of the UK when it comes to adopting new technology for business. However, it looks as if at least one innovation – the increase in the use of mobile devices like iPhones, Androids and iPads – is having a significant effect on the habits of British holidaymakers (and not just those who are going abroad.)
Given the uncertain weather we’ve been having in the UK this summer, it’s not surprising that more and more people are booking their trips at the last minute. But something every B&B owner who is keen to get business online needs to be aware of is that more and more of these last-minute bookings are being done via mobile devices, like iPhones, Androids and iPads.
As travel tech website, Tnooz, notes: “Google has recorded quite a spike in queries for last minute travel products from mobile devices in recent months. Figures for the UK drawn from the second week of July show… 33% of accommodation queries were on mobile. The figures demonstrate a hike compared to the same period last year when… 6% of accommodation queries were made via mobile.”
We’ve talked before on theBandBer about the fact that, although social media can be a great new way to publicise your property and maintain relationships with your customers, good old fashioned email marketing is still highly effective.
With that in mind, we were fascinated by a recent article on business website Inc.com, about improving the chances that customers who receive your email on their mobile phones will be encouraged to open it.
Some interesting new insights – via USA Today – from online travel company, Orbitz. Its CEO, Barney Hardford, says that mobile devices are becoming disproportionately important when it comes to customers booking rooms at the last moment.
- Google and Bing have strongly hinted that having a mobile-friendly website is a huge factor in how well you rank organically on mobile devices.
- 44% of US leisure travellers and 47% of business travellers have researched hotel options on their mobile device.
Here at theBandBer.com we often mention that while social media is great and should be exploited the fullest possible extent, it’s important not to forget about good old-fashioned email marketing. But with more and more potential customers reading emails on their smartphones, there’s a good chance that your existing email format doesn’t look that great to them.
It’s a fast moving world. Digital technology has sped up commerce in all kinds of ways. In terms of accommodation provision, potential customers expect to see live rates and availability. But they also seem to be booking a lot closer to arrival date. The main reason for this may simply be the fact that technology allows them to do so (with so many venues offering WIFI, it’s pretty easy to search and book on your laptop or mobile device.) But worries about personal finances also seem to be a driving force. As travel website eyefortravel.com recently noted: “By all accounts, the booking window is going to stay small and continue to contract. Economic uncertainty means that more travellers are waiting longer to make their final decisions.” This is backed up by hotelier and hospitality news channel Hotelier TV: “In the past, travellers typically booked stays in advance because it was common for prices to go up as your travel date got closer. In the current economic climate, travellers don’t always have the luxury to be able to plan so far in advance because their financial situation could change at any time.” Continue reading