Traveller’s connectivity through smartphones and tablets is a great incentive for the sector, however it can also generate certain confusion and uncertainty as no one wants to get left behind in an environment that changes as much as that of hotel distribution.
Hotel News Now gathered together different professionals from the industry to debate the best ways to use these devices in a field where traditional offline travel agencies can live together with Online Travel Agencies, as well as the hotels themselves and their direct sales channel. From their contributions we have extracted the following five tips:
1) It is all based on trust. The big change in the mobile era is that travellers have gone from having access to a “contact number for a traditional agency to having an app on their phone that is always with them” says Sultan O’Brien, vice-president of sales for web analytics company Boxever. This allusion to trust is not a minor issue, as O’Brien continues: “it is not the product itself but the information with it”. CitizenM’s distribution department manager Lennert de Jong urges hoteliers to “reinforce their strategies” with the aim of recuperating prominence in the relationship with their clients.
2) Personalization must be present in all fazes of the purchase. “Travellers don’t spend so much time now on searching for specific accommodation, instead they search by destination, therefore this type of information must be well developed”, says Accor Hotel’s e-commerce area vice president, Romain Roulleau. Along the same line, O’Brien assures us that the demand for individualized offer is “a lot more evident among the millenials”.
3) Involvement and reach go hand in hand. To reduce the chances of failure when implementing a mobile strategy, the commitment of the whole team is non negotiable. It is essential that the staff understand how the booking process works and what is involved when converting a user’s visit into a stay in the hotel. Regarding reach, all those who took part in the debate agreed: the more people reached by the offers, the more possible conversions. In this scenario of constant growth with said devices, mobile apps are a very useful tool.
4) Monitoring is an ally. We cannot and must not turn our back on all the data we can access from web analytics. The information it provides regarding certain conduct patterns of confirmed or potential clients is essential when evaluating results. Trainline’s Mark Holt confirms this stating: “We always try to apply A/B testing (launching different versions of the same website to see which has the best result with users)”. Roulleau adds to this by claiming that this type of measure provides a more precise Key Performance Indicator. “We know 70% of Accor sales are made via a desktop computer, and 30% via mobiles, but, looking into the use of these devices during the first quarter of 2015, we have detected an increase of 60% in relation to the same period the previous year. This is great, but we must stay grounded” he concludes.
5) Make it easy. The experts all share a vision, where simplicity is the dominant feature, otherwise the visitor will get confused and leave the website or app.
At Innwise we are always alert to innovation in the field of web design, and the websites we produce are compatible with all devices, this work is complemented by Idiso Hotel distribution and the Idiso Booking Engine Mobile, the version of their booking engine adapted to smartphones and tablets