Mobile remains a source of growth in Internet access for travelers

International arrivals can represent incremental business for hotels.

International arrivals can represent incremental business for hotels.Pictured: International arrivals can represent incremental business for hotels.

Mobile devices continue to gain ground in terms of how travelers access the Internet, giving them an important role to play in a hotel’s distribution strategy.

“Hoteliers need to think about having a multiscreen experience, appropriate for PC, phone, tablets and places like Google Glass and smart watches,” said Adam Anderson, director of industry relations at Expedia.

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An independent hotel may not have the resources available to create a distribution presence that embraces all these devices, said Anderson.

“An individual hotelier is not going to have its own dedicated app, so they need to find companies that they can partner with,” he said.

The mobile platform is made of a range of devices that potential guests access at different times of the day and with different expectations, said Michelle Woodley, Preferred Hotel Group’s SVP of distribution and revenue management.

“I’m on my phone in the morning, my desktop at work and my tablet on the couch at home,” said Woodley. “Mobile cannot be looked at as a single channel, it’s part of a guest journey.”

That journey usually ends up on a tablet. “Over 70 percent of our mobile bookings come on a tablet,” said Woodley. “If guests are going to book on mobile, they’re going to book on a tablet, especially when you look at the luxury segment.”

Maximizing mobile can also be key to attracting international travelers.

“In many emerging economies, the primary device of Internet access is already mobile—they’re skipping the PC,” said Anderson.

International travelers can represent incremental business for a hotel because many of them hail from economies with an emerging middle class and are traveling for the first time, said Anderson, but reaching international travelers can pose unique challenges.

“It’s not just translation,” he said. “For example, our point of sale in Japan is optimized around the fact that it is hard to type in Japanese characters. We use more dropdowns and radial buttons. In Brazil, it’s very common for consumers to pay in installments, so we have a mechanism for that payment method in Brazil.”