By Mike Murray

Most people today are aware of the HUGE impact that mobile phones have had on our everyday lives; of course, it allows us to communicate at any time via many different messaging mediums, but there is also a significant change in the way mobile has affected business. People no longer have to be at home, sitting in front of a desktop computer, to be an online consumer; today, they’re online, on-the-go, 24/7, as the vast majority of people – or at least those in the Baby Boomer generation and younger – have a mobile phone or device of some sort. Heck, even my 91-year old mother has a smart phone – and she can’t even work the TV controller! (Now granted, it’s a first-generation flip phone with a few apps she never uses, but it makes her feel like she’s part of today’s mobile society.)

If you’re one of the few who haven't joined the mobile movement, you’re in a small minority; recent studies show “the majority (95%) of Americans own a mobile phone of some kind, and most (77%) use a smartphone”. Globally, “almost two-thirds of the world’s population has a mobile phone… half use a smartphone”.

It’s clearly a significant trend, but what is more important is how hoteliers can leverage this phenomenon to increase business. In terms of booking travel, “two-thirds of US travelers have shopped or booked (air or hotel) on a mobile device, and nearly half of those are under 35 years of age.” ­­The same trends apply worldwide as­­ “mobile bookings made up 27% of all online travel bookings during Q2 2016″.

As I’m sure you are aware, the new generation of travelers (a.k.a. Millennials) live almost every aspect of their life via their smartphones – and that includes travel research and booking! “Around 98% of Americans, aged 18 to 35, own a smartphone” and “75% of Millennials want to travel abroad as much as possible (compared to 52% of other generations)”. So it’s easy to see why mobile is imperative for hotels that want to boost bookings and revenue earned from this new (and largest) generation of travelers. ­­

As a hotelier, how can you optimize your efforts to encourage Millennials to book with your brand or property?

To better understand the behaviors of Millennial travelers looking to book a hotel room, let’s examine a few things they identify as their biggest (mobile) dealbreakers:

Broken or Ineffective Mobile Websites It’s a well-known fact that consumers have little patience with poor mobile web sites; this is even more critical for Millennial travelers who grew up with technology and believe that “it should just work”. Beyond that, there is the additional need to ensure that your property provides a good user experience (UX) as it will drastically improve your conversions and ROI. Studies show that “57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site” and, because Millennials are heavily influenced by peer recommendations, a poor mobile site (or app) can have a significant negative impact on your bookings and revenue.

Yup, you heard that right: if your mobile website isn’t making it easy and painless for potential guests to search for rooms, compare options and book, it is VERY likely that you’re not only missing out on valuable bookings but also giving them to your competition!

Inconsistencies of User Experience Across all Channels Ready for another buzzword? Today’s consumers are looking for an omni-channel experience, which, in layman’s terms, means that users want the same (or similar) brand experience, regardless the channel through which they engage with your brand. As a matter of fact, “83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important” so, in addition to having a mobile website that works well, it is also important that your guests’ mobile experience is consistent across all channels. (This point is particularly important to Millennials bookers!)

You obviously cannot have complete control over your property’s branding and the mobile user experience of the indirect channels (i.e. OTAs) but on your own channels, it is integral that you maintain consistent brand presentation and pricing. Whether they book through your desktop website, mobile website, mobile app, email, call or text, your customers should be receiving the same recognition and service at every touchpoint.

Inability to View Video Via Mobile Did you know that “48% of Millennials view video solely on their mobile device“? No wonder they are always staring at their mobile devices!

So it stands to reason that if your mobile site doesn’t have the bandwidth or capability to showcase the videos that you have on your desktop website, almost 50% of your potential guests (i.e. Millennials) will never see your video content. Because we know that video is a highly effective marketing medium for travel companies (“45% of leisure travelers booked instantly after watching a video of the travel activity… 72% of business travelers and 74% of affluent travelers booked upon watching a video”), this mobile mistake could cost your property a lot of revenue.

There you have it: three big problems that will push Millennials into the arms (or to the mobile website) of the competition! Next week, join us in this same space to learn more about the two types of mobile tools (apps and mobile websites), and to examine which is most useful in attracting the new generation of travelers.

If you have any questions about the benefits of mobile for your brand/property or want to learn more about these mobile dealbreakers, feel free to contact me at any time: [email protected].