Mobile conversion, a new rule of thumb
Tuesday 13th October 2015
When it comes to using a mobile device to browse online, the experience should be exactly that; mobile. Defined as something that is able to move freely and easily, this is the user experience you should look to create for your guests.
When creating a website, one of the key considerations should be creating a fluid and streamlined website that helps to put prospective guests on a journey, moving them towards the ultimate aim – a completed booking. Conversion is all-important to a hotel’s website, so everything that you do should focus on encouraging guests to go ahead and book a stay at your hotel.
One of the main issues hoteliers must overcome when looking to improve conversion rates is people’s reluctance to book via a mobile device. Prospective guests often browse for hotels using a smart phone or tablet, before reverting to a desktop or laptop to complete the actual booking.
Keeping people engaged on mobile devices encourages them to book straight away. This reduces the chances of them having second thoughts or booking elsewhere. Provide all of the information and create an easy booking experience where people are happy to part with their money in a secure situation. But how can we do this?
The key thing is to look at both user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). The UX relates to how the user is feeling and what they’re thinking. The UI on the other hand, is the design – the aesthetics and look of your website. Whilst these two elements are related, they are actually very different so your hotel website needs to combine the two in order to create a streamlined, efficient service with an agile interface that offers an enjoyable user experience.
The best way to do this is to think of it as a journey, with a clearly defined path from start to finish.
First and foremost, the navigation of the site must be simplified. Take away unnecessary clutter as this dilutes the important information. Sliding drawer navigation is ideal for a mobile website, as it presents easily accessible areas in a way that doesn’t detract from the key messages.
Look to include advanced search options, with search that auto-predicts. By displaying relevant or recent searches that guests can select, it makes the process easier.
Making sure that pages are quick to load and not too content heavy will also help to improve navigation for the user. Bear this in mind when creating website content – don’t be too elaborate, so avoid waffling and keep things short and sweet.
If additional information is relevant, include it on the website but make sure it’s linked to on a separate page. Some prospective guests may enjoy reading up about other aspects of your hotel, but many won’t. By keeping the key info central, and the secondary information accessible, you can cater for everyone’s needs
With mobility in mind, image size can play a big part in the user experience of your mobile site. Mobile internet connection is often variable, which can lead to frustration for a prospective guest as they struggle with loading times – smaller images reduce these load times. However, the propensity for guests to use multiple devices means that you can’t afford to solely target mobile users. Desktops are becoming larger, with higher quality images needed as a result. The obvious drawback of these high quality images is that they take longer to load. But if you were to weigh up your options, you would be better off using high quality images, as grainy images on a large screened retina display would detract more than slightly longer load times for mobile devices.
On a mobile, the level of input needs to be stripped back to the bare minimum, only requiring essential booking information. The actual booking engine should be easy to use, with integrated systems that can be manipulated to your needs, allowing you to streamline the ‘booking funnel’ and eliminate unnecessary aspects."James Brown, Development and Technical Manager, Journey
Prominent calls to action
This is an important one for conversion. Make sure the opportunity to book is easily visible. Allow instant scrolling to the top of the page and once a guest has made the decision that they want to book, make it easy for them to do so.
Wherever possible, encourage guests to share your website content. Incorporate share functionality into your website design, displaying links and short cuts to the necessary sharing tools. This doesn’t just have to be Facebook, Twitter or their ilk, encourage TripAdvisor or reviews as well. All of these platforms, when used positively, help to build your public profile. Mobile users are more likely to be active in social media, so encouraging your guests to share socially could prove more important on mobile devices than on desktops. People often love to say on social media that they’ve booked a holiday, so encourage them to shout about your hotel.
Personalisation on mobile
Personalising the experience by having the content related to the individual and the location, makes for a better experience. In order to do this you can utilise individual browsing history, which helps to generate a more personalised feel. You can access travel history, preferences and so on, which can be used to target the guest with relevant information, attractions and deals, making your hotel a more desirable place to stay.
Once you’ve managed to get guests to the booking stage, you need to make it as straightforward as possible. Booking forms can often be convoluted, with a lot of questions asked, which means time needed to enter – something that people on the go are unlikely to be keen on. On a mobile, the level of input needs to be stripped back to the bare minimum, only requiring essential booking information. The actual booking engine should be easy to use, with integrated systems that can be manipulated to your needs, allowing you to streamline the ‘booking funnel’ and eliminate unnecessary aspects.
A tip is to number the booking stages so guests are aware of how far through the booking process they are.
When it comes to taking payments, make sure that it’s obvious that everything is secure. Clearly present this so that prospective guests understand that there are no risks involved and that it’s safe to part with their money. Website owners often tend to use prominent security badges and SSL certificates (such as the padlock) to reassure customers that their website is legitimate. This is slightly trickier to do on a mobile due to limited space, but arguably more important due to the reluctance to book on a mobile device. Mobiles are just as secure as desktops, which is something that should be trumpeted wherever possible.
Another element of reassurance relates to FAQs. These should be easily accessible, with guidance to help prevent any hesitation on the part of prospective guests. Little tool tips and visual guides are useful to help them along their journey. If a user inputs something incorrectly, make them aware of it immediately. If a guest is frustrated while trying to book, they are unlikely to book at all, so make sure it’s as straightforward and simplistic as you’re able to make it. This rule of thumb applies to the entirety of your website – make it streamlined and secure and let the guest know this, ultimately you’ll secure more conversions to bookings.