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Smartphones, tablets and websites: How can hotels keep up?

3 Jan, 2013 By: Jena Tesse Fox
 


 

New year, new trends, although one has been growing steadily over the past several years, in fact: A story on GuestCentric.com is reporting that by 2015, more travelers will access the Internet through their mobile devices than anything else. Fewer tourists are using their computers to access travel information, according to the IDC (International Data Corporation), and hoteliers have some tough choices to make: Is it better to have a dedicated smartphone app for a hotel, or an optimized version of the website? Should there be a regular version and a mobile version or three versions (regular, smartphones and tablets)?

According to Google’s August study, The 2012 Traveler, the number of leisure travelers using their mobile devices for travel information has increased by over 450 percent since 2009. Many of these users ends up making their bookings via mobile device. A full 40 percent of leisure travelers book using mobile browsers, while only 12 percent book using apps. Thirty six percent of business travelers book using mobile browsers while only 17 percent book using apps. This signifies a greater importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices, than the creation of apps.

We've reported extensively on the industry's constant roll-out of mobile platforms, particularly on the development of brand-specific booking apps.

But could "old-fashioned" mobile sites be better for hotels and hoteliers? According to GuestCentric, the answer may be yes. Optimized websites are time- and cost-effective. Furthermore, the optimized website is instantly available to the user no matter what device they are using, can be easier for unfamiliar users to find as its pages can be displayed in search results, and is easier to share across platforms.

Of the seven reasons that led potential customers not to make a booking from their mobile devices, according to GuestCentric, four of them were due to the website’s lack of quality, another due to a lack of trust in the security on mobile devices, and the remaining two due to factors outside of hoteliers’ control.

This translates into a necessity for great-looking, and also mobile-optimized websites. Websites for both smartphones and tablets have characteristics in common: They both need to load very quickly as customers don’t want wait. But this commonality does not mean that a mobile website will work for both kinds of devices.

While smartphones and tablets share characteristics like touch interfaces, there are great differences between the two devices that translate into changes in design. Much-smaller smartphone displays can be low-resolution (as low as 240×320 pixels). Tablets are bigger, and typically have high-resolution displays, similar to a notebook (Retina displays can have resolutions as high as 2560×1600). A high resolution means that the lower-resolution mobile websites don’t look good, and that the normal websites can have their links and texts be too small.

It’s also important to realize that these two devices aren’t usually used in the same manner. People tend to keep their smartphones with them and use them regularly throughout the day, while tablets are often used after work for leisure. This means that smartphone bookings are frequently last-minute. In a study conducted by GuestCentric with over 300 hotels, 60 percent of smartphone bookings were for same-night or next-night stay.

With a market that is in a constant change and the inability to effectively predict how consumers search, hoteliers need to choose a technology strategy that will adapt to consumer behavior.

How will the increasing range of devices change how hotels manage their online business? Sound off on our Facebook page.

 

Topic : Smartphones, Tablets, Apps, Mobile, booking
External Source : GuestCentric.com
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