Warning to hoteliers ignoring mobile functionality
Hotelier Middle East Staff
April 26th, 2012
Hospitality technology experts have warned hoteliers that they need to embrace mobile technology or risk losing business to tech-savvy rivals.
Google’s industry head travel for the Gulf, Marie de Ducla, said on average, 73% of business travellers and 52% of leisure travellers own a smartphone*.
“The mobile queries relative to the hotel industry are rising very fast and in some countries are already standing for 20%**of the queries,” she continued.
“Mobiles are often used to book a hotel room especially for last minute bookings, so it’s important for hotel chains to provide them with the best user experience with a mobile-optimised site.”
De Ducla added that for those that don’t have a mobile version of their website, should at least have ‘click to call’ ads that allow potential customers to call the hotel or the call centre directly.
“By 2014, it is predicted that there will be more users accessing the internet from their mobile device than on desktop, and with the progressive adoption of 4G, the speed of Internet on mobile phones will be as fast as high-speed broadband Internet is on a desktop computer today.”
Allowing customers to access hotels through map-based user journeys was a way that Frommers Unlimited director EMEA, Giles Longhurst, believed hoteliers could immediately make an impact on their online mobile presence.
“This now forms a substantial part of the research process across the whole of the travel industry, but especially within hotel booking,” he explained.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts vice president marketing Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME), Steven Taylor, said the company was embracing the evolution of the online world “and our branded online channels have seen fantastic growth over the last few years”.
“Social media has been placed at the very core of our organisation to ensure that we are delivering value to our guests throughout their stay,” he continued.
Starwood recently launched the new ‘state-aware’ SPG iPhone and iPad application to enhance personalised guest experiences.
Taylor admitted it was a challenge to keep on top of an online world that was constantly evolving; but that the “huge opportunities” made the effort worthwhile.
Starwood told Hotelier Middle East that its mobile revenue had increased by more than 300% year-over-year, and the company had noted that the patterns of travellers using mobile devices to book rooms were markedly different from those of more traditional web bookers.
“For instance, two-thirds of mobile bookings are within 24 hours of the stay, triple that of web bookings. Mobile represents the next paradigm shift for marketing and consumer engagement and we plan to be at the forefront of this trend,” Taylor added.
* PhocusWright mobile Study, March 2012
**Google Internal data