According to a 2020 study, the transition to mobile is accelerating. With 90% of the world's population using mobile as their first and main source of internet access, it is no wonder that more than half of global hotel website traffic is on mobile devices. Moreover, when aspiring travelers were asked about researching their next destination and choice of hotel, 53% answered that the first step of their journey would be on mobile.
The trend is clear: Mobile is on the rise, and desktop access is losing market share.
The transition to mobile has been accelerating due to the increased importance of social media in influencing choosing a hotel. 73% of millennials check a hotel’s social media feed before booking. Interaction with your guests starts on social media on mobile and needs to be fluid from that point forward, all the way through the direct booking mobile experience.
The Problem: Conversion
What about mobile conversion? Well, it is just not happening. The average conversion rate of a hotel website is 0.73% for independent hotels and up to 1.9% for established branded groups, a rate that has remained constant despite hotels offering a better price for direct reservations. However, when looking at the average mobile conversion rate for hotel websites, the data is even more grim with a meagre 0.45% of overall direct hotel bookings originating from mobile.
Comparatively, Booking.com has an average 3.5% overall conversion rate, among which half of the bookings originate from mobile users. Much remains to be improved on the hotel website's mobile efficiency to drive revenue and direct sales.
A mobile customer journey
To be able to capture the micro-moment of decision, your website and direct booking engine must accommodate and drive consumers’ patterns of behavior. 69% of leisure travelers search for travel ideas during their free time, and nearly half of those travelers go on to book their choices through an entirely separate channel. Meanwhile, 91% of smartphone users look up information on their smartphones while in the middle of another task.
The importance of both engaging content and providing an optimized direct booking experience on mobile is paramount to converting a site visitor into a guest sooner and at a lower acquisition cost.
The importance of mobile-centric design
What is preventing most hotel websites from being at least as efficient on mobile as on a desktop?
Expectations and purchasing habits vary from device to device, with mobile users being relatively more impatient than when on a desktop. Moreover, several points of friction influence the conversion rate on mobile and have yet to be addressed by most direct booking engines:
Standards for mobile-driven design
Overall expectations for mobile design are very high because people constantly use their smartphones. In fact, Millennials spend more than 5.7 hours on their smartphones per day. Any small inconvenience can cause a potential customer to drop out of your funnel.
On mobile, a 1-second improvement in loading time is equivalent to a 10% increase in the conversion rate. Customers are particularly sensitive to loading time at checkout.
Steps to checkout
Removing one step during the final steps of your reservation process increases the conversion rate by 4.7%. Every additional step is another opportunity for your potential customer to abandon the process.
Overall User experience
Every visitor on your site has made a purchase online in the past. They are arriving on your page with expectations and habits that come from standard e-commerce sites on mobile. Replicating the ease and speed of e-commerce purchase flows will increase your conversion rate.
One out of five people abandon at the payment stage. The reasons include a lack of payment options, fear of fraud, and an overly complicated checkout process. In 2021, 49% of e-commerce payments were made with a digital wallet (Apple Pay or Google Pay). Integrating this payment option to your mobile site can help reduce friction at the final step.
In Europe, credit card payments need to be secured according to the 3DS2 European standard. Digital wallets provide a higher degree of safety as they include an additional double verification process.
How should you solve these issues?
Working on your user experience, having a mobile-friendly and responsive website, and integrating modern payment methods are all powerful ways to improve your online experience. These enhancements will improve your prospects' mobile experience and therefore your conversion rate.
Of course, your direct booking engine also plays a crucial part in your website’s conversion rate. Most hoteliers use the direct booking tool provided by their PMS, Channel Manager or affiliate and never really question its features and performance. But unlike changing your PMS or Channel Manager, switching your booking engine is easy and fast, without impacting your internal processes.
We like Namastay’s direct booking technology because it helps reduce the frictions that prevent mobile conversion on hotel’s website. By streamlining the booking and payment process, directly on the hotel’s website, Namastay helps hotels multiply their direct mobile booking conversion rate by up to 3x. You can check out how Marina Ravix, Grand Pigalle Hotel’s General Manager improved mobile conversion with Namastay on her website here.