Is Your Mobile Site Optimized for Online Booking Across All Platforms?
By Fiona Goldstein, digital brand marketing manager, Thompson Hotels
Thompson Hotels (www.thompsonhotels.com) prides itself on redefining the luxury experience to provide travelers the comfort, privacy, and freedom with which they are accustomed. With an influx of tech-savvy guests comes a fresh offering of tools to attract them to the property. This new generation of traveler is averse to a clunky booking experience. As the number of hotel guests expected to start booking travel via mobile is anticipated to double to more than 15 million this year, the need for hotels to put forth a sleek mobile presence is now more critical than ever.
Make mobile booking easy and clean
A guest navigating an airport terminal and trying to catch a last-minute flight should be able to book a hotel room without slowing his or her walking pace. A mobile site should be accessible and a room should be bookable within a few clicks.
Many hotels mistakenly design desktop sites and mobile sites separately, or only design one site for both channels. Displaying a desktop version of a website on a handheld smartphone has the potential to frustrate the consumer, who won’t book as a result. The advent of responsive design, which Thompson Hotels leveraged through Open Hospitality OpenFlex, offered by Pegasus Solutions (www.pegs.com), offers hotels fluid widths, scalable images and adjustable layouts to allow bookers to quickly access important details via any mobile device.
Some hotels also create a mobile site that then links to the existing booking environment from the desktop site. In order to create an effective mobile hotel site, the guest must be able to enjoy both the shopping and booking experience in a highly compatible display size. For this, Thompson Hotels used the Open Hospitality OpenView booking engine to make sure the mobile booking experience was not just doable, but easy and secure.
Connect to the social world
Social media should be yet another impetus to launch a highly functional mobile site. Booking through social media is still a new concept, but traffic is being driven from social media to hotel websites. Since users often access social media sites through personal devices, any mobile initiative must include social media functionality.
Thompson Hotels has put significant resources towards its social media campaigns — maintaining a presence on Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and Facebook. In monitoring these campaigns, it was seen that clicks through these channels are generally coming from mobile devices, which is why Thompson devoted the time and resources to ensure the mobile user experience was in line with brand standards.
As a mobile strategy, social media is an invaluable way to put the right information in the right hands in a way that is most comfortable for that guest. This requires a sound understanding of the platforms available and dedicated expertise to create and maintain a property’s social media presence. Devote a resource or find a cost-effective partner to champion social media, leveraging the platform to drive referral business.
While mobile adoption is accelerating in terms of the number of users researching or managing travel, there is no evidence of attrition in website demand. Rise in use of mobile does not translate to a drop in the use of desktops for shopping. Consumers are actually using both, which means it is important to develop a hotel’s presence in both channels.
In the hospitality business the focus is always on creating comfort in the stay. At Thompson, properties are places where form and function are equal partners. This philosophy has extended to the virtual doorstep where the aim is to create comfort in the booking process, seizing on every tool available — from desktop to social media to mobile — with a sound strategy, distinct in a way guests will “get.”
Digital Brand Marketing Manager, Thompson Hotels
What was your first job?
Working in the literary & marketing department of Paramount Pictures.
Who inspires you?
Young people who are making a mark in the digital scene, proving that age is just a number.
What are your hobbies?
48-hour trips, reading, yoga, seeing art, going to concerts, learning something new every day, exploring.
What technologies excite you?
I love to see how physical experiences are shaped by the influence of technology, especially geo-location and social discovery programs.
Always think about where you want to be a year from now, don’t get lost in the moment; consider the big picture.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Visiting every continent and at least one major city in each country.
I love the book The Magus by John Fowles, and my all-time favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Fiona Goldstein is the digital brand marketing manager for Thompson Hotels, a company with properties from New York to Los Angeles and internationally in Toronto and London. Hotels include: 60 Thompson, 6 Columbus, Gild Hall, Smyth Tribeca, Thompson Les, Hollywood Roosevelt, Thompson Beverly Hills, Sutton Place, Thompson Toronto, Belgraves, Hotel Victor and Joie De Vivre.