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5 Key Mobile Strategies Demystified

By 2015, mobile is expected to generate 22 percent of online bookings, up from 11 percent in 2013 according to  PhoCusWright's Global Online Travel Overview. As this trend continues, it becomes even more essential to ensure hoteliers are focused on the right mobile strategy to maximize growth by prioritizing between varied strategies that may include mobile promotions, responsive design, click-to-call, rate parity and social media.  To help define the mobile growth tactic that is right for a specific property, Marc Liebman, vice president of reservations at TravelClick offers insights into the truths and fallacies behind the latest mobile strategies.
Launching last minute promotions will help sell unsold inventory.  FALSE
Same-day reservations grew from nine percent to 23 percent between 2011 and 2013 according to TravelClick's iHotelier Booking Engine data, 2011-2013. Most hoteliers would think in order to sell perishable inventory, they should utilize last minute promotions.   However, what is most often forgotten is that the mobile channel is inherently a last-minute distribution channel that capitalizes on consumer’s confidence to book on-the-go.  Discounting a hotel’s rate unnecessarily erodes average daily rate because mobile bookings would have likely happened without the discount.  On this high demand channel, it is best practice to maintain price parity at all times and effectively market a hotel’s true last-minute best available rates as a way to maximize profit.
Every hotel should invest in a branded mobile application.  FALSE
Consumers are increasingly comfortable making mobile reservations which has led to a surge of mobile applications.  It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype, but execute with caution.  Most hotels, especially independent and small-medium chains, cannot compete in this space without having the resources  to drive demand, the budget to build and maintain the application, and the programs to drive repeat usage.  Prioritize on enhancing a hotel’s branded mobile site while investing in marketing initiatives that drive demand to the property’s direct web channel.    
Mobile marketing is an important component of a sound digital marketing strategy. TRUE
There are many facets of mobile marketing that make it an important tool in an hotelier’s digital marketing arsenal.  A general rule of thumb is that hotels should be spending at least 15 percent of their marketing budget on mobile marketing initiatives.  This includes a mobile website and booking engine, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing, display advertising, mobile content and analytics. 

Mobile Optimized Website and Booking Engine:  As a significant source of incremental bookings, it’s imperative that direct web channels are easy to use, highly engaging, high-speed, and minimalistic in design and content.  Without a mobile-optimized site a hotel risks abandoning its most profitable channel.
Mobile SEO:  Mobile search is quickly becoming the primary search channel.  An effective mobile SEO strategy is mainly driven by user experience and the sites ability to engage visitors – more than just rankings and traffic.  To ensure a hotel’s site delivers the optimal experience, focus on the following three components:
  1. Use conversational voice when configuring keyword search (ie. “what is the best Miami hotel with a pool”)
  2. Understand mobile user intent and ensure website content and local business listings are updated with relevant content for guest search
  3. Maintain relevant cross-links from the mobile site while eliminating faulty redirects from desktop sites
Mobile Content:  It’s critical that mobile content be real, original, relevant and useful.  Know the hotel’s audience and avoid verbose descriptions.  If the content is not succinct, clear and efficiently presented consumers will abandon.  Videos, images, and other visual content is becoming increasingly important, but be sure not to sacrifice the primary calls to action or distract from relevant content  consumers are looking for when implementing a strategy. When in doubt, defer secondary content to another screen.
Responsive and adaptive designs can both deliver supreme customer experiences. TRUE
In recent years, responsive web design has been touted as the gold-standard to ensure that websites work on the largest range of devices and screen resolutions.  With this, responsive design can introduce risk for some sites with the need to gracefully degrade web features to work on mobile smartphones.  Thankfully, responsive design is not the only answer to delivering the optimal customer experience on each device.
Adaptive delivery detects the device accessing the site through a single HTML codebase , then selects the optimal HTML and CSS design to deliver based on the device.  Adaptive design is most beneficial for highly transactional sites and sites with complex javascript or media queries.  This often allows for faster page load times, a streamlined user experience, and optimized image display for varying screen sizes. 
Both adaptive and responsive designs are rooted in delivering optimized content to consumers and delivering the best overall experience.  Ensure that either is incorporated to maximize the visitor’s experience and increase the chance of converting the visitor into a booking.
Consumers are adverse to booking advanced experiences on mobile. FALSE
Advances in technology have transformed mobile ecommerce: consumers are increasingly comfortable making purchases on smartphones and expect the same functionality that is available on desktops.  Packages and services that enhance the hotel’s value proposition on other channels add value on mobile devices.  TravelClick data suggests that resorts and water parks can easily capture incremental revenue on mobile by offering add-ons such as tickets to mobile users, while casinos and upscale resorts can deliver value through enhancements.  Ensure that upsell opportunities are marketed and easily bookable by guests on the mobile channel and that there is parity in rate, package, and room offerings with the desktop experience. 
With mobile on its way to generate nearly a quarter of all online bookings, hoteliers need to continue to deploy, test and tweak their mobile marketing strategies to capture this growing channel.  Mobile is no longer a distinct investment strategy; it must be incorporated in every digital market strategy, at every step of the way. 
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