Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of the hospitality digital marketing company, buuteeq, prior to its acquisition by Booking.com in June 2014. The opinions expressed here are specific to buuteeq, though many of the technology insights remain relevant to customers and admirers of our new business, BookingSuite, a unit of Booking.com. Visit suite.booking.com for our latest thought leadership in the hospitality digital marketing space.
Back in March of 2011, I wrote a post stating that most websites were not designed to provide a good user experience when viewed on smartphones and described what being optimized for mobile used to mean. The most interesting thing about this piece is that it focused solely on smartphones and did not once mention tablet computers. While tablets were certainly around back in 2011, they weren’t nearly as widely used as they are today.
The increase in tablet use has resulted in a new mobile channel that, like smartphones, has become a fifth (or sixth or seventh) digital appendage in today’s society. The adoption of tablets is just another example of technological evolution, where hotels must adapt in order to stay relevant and reach guests.
So, what does mobile optimization mean now?
While both smartphones and tablets are considered “mobile”, they are very different in a variety of ways. From operating system to screen size to the way in which guests use them, they may actually have more differences than they do similarities. According to ComScore they are even used at different times throughout the day.
To create a good user experience, your mobile website(s) should;
- Automatically deliver a tailored experience. Having to find a “click here to view mobile site” link or forcing guests to “pinch” to zoom in and out is not optimal.
- Resize and compress images
- Enlarge text
- Display contact information prominently. For smartphones, a “click to call” button should be easily accessible. Research shows that guests who call your property have a higher conversation ratio than guests who just visit your website. Similarly, tablets should have a “click to email” option.
- Absolutely NO Flash technology! It is outdated and no longer supported by any smartphones, tablets, or Google for that matter. Having Flash on your website can result in a poor user experience and negatively impact SEO.
- Provide easy to access location information with linking to maps. Mobile users expect that they can look up directions to your property on their phone or tablet while they are en route to stay with you.
- Have a mobile optimized booking engine. If your website is optimized for mobile but your booking engine is not, you run the risk of breakage, where potential guests enter the booking environment but do not complete the reservation due to a bad user experience.
- The ability to run mobile only promotions. This feature enables you to target on-the-go travelers with last minute deals in order to sell open rooms that would otherwise remain empty. Plus, you’ll book rooms directly!
How is buuteeq making sure that all of these bases are covered for our clients? First and foremost, we make sure to stay up to date on current technology and industry best practices so that we can make informed decisions on behalf of the 4,000+ properties using our system. Today, our cloud based software produces a fully optimized mobile website crafted from the ground up to provide a great user experience on smartphones. In addition, our system uses responsive design technology so tablet users are delivered an experience similar to our desktop website, but modified to fit their screen. The result for our clients is a unified, fully optimized online experience across all channels.
While this combination aligns with the best practices in place today, we’ll be ready to update our system accordingly when the next big thing in technology comes around. Our clients are able to rest easy knowing that we’ve got the tech stuff under control and they can focus on what they do best – running their business.