Mobile marketing is a hot topic in the industry for HITEC 2011. Vikram Singh, founder of Evision Worldwide, presented an excellent webinar on Mobile Marketing for Hotels & Resorts in November that gave attendees valuable information on using mobile marketing to increase bookings using apps and hotel mobile web sites.
Before I got my iPhone, I remember trying to surf the web and check e-mail using my busted Motorola Razr, and I thought that was cool! Now, the limits of hardware, software and expensive data plans are no more — smart phones are now becoming the norm, especially among jet-setting savvy travelers.
In the webinar, Vikram reported that projected mobile travel bookings for 2010 were $160M. He also reported that intent when clicking on mobile ads is five times higher than clicking on ads on the desktop.
Vikram also shared this projection:
“More people will access the mobile web than the desktop web.”
By 2013 (according to Gartner)
By 2015 (according to Morgan Stanley)
I am not an expert on mobile web sites, online booking engines or mobile marketing, but I learned some useful basic information while producing this webinar with Vikram.
1. Mobile is NOT a desktop.
Mobile bookings are happening. If they aren’t happening for your hotel, something may be wrong with your mobile site. A mobile-friendly site is not enough to increase bookings — you need a mobile-specific site. Simplify, simplify, simplify — get right to the point. Make it smaller, and don’t depend on scrolling. It is your responsibility to make your site work well to fit the various devices — iPhone, Blackberry, Andriod, and other platforms and screen sizes.
2. Don’t forget: It’s a phone!
Is your hotel’s phone number easy to find? Make sure your mobile site has a phone number listed clearly. Vikram reported that mobile web calls are 31% more likely to result in a booking than other sources. Give your users a chance to call and book a reservation.
3. Your highly engaged customers are using apps.
Apps from OTAs, like Kayak and TripAdvisor, are very popular. Your app should be more than a simplified version of your hotel’s web site with a phone number. Think about specific functions that users need and make them work well. Then give them a little something extra.
4. Psst: Your competition is sleeping.
Hotel brands are playing the “wait and see” game. If you take care of the basics, like a decent hotel mobile web site and a phone number clearly displayed, you are ahead of much of the competition.
Lillian White is the HFTP director of member services and hosts two HFTP webinars per month that are free for HFTP members to attend as a benefit of membership.