Hospitality Industry Website Design and Digital Marketing
For many of us, our phone is like an extension of our body. It comes with a calm that the convenience of the world is available 24/7. For better or for worse, I am one of those people. I often forget that phones can be used for calling people. Label it what you will: enslavement and reliance on an electronic device or the use of technology to make life easier, but I’m often using mine to aid in a lot of activity. When it comes to convenience for business, it’s been particularly useful for travel and hotel purposes.
Responsive Web Design and the Hospitality Industry
Part of the phenomenon that envelopes the growth in mobile usage for this industry has to do with the fact that it’s so easy and the user can do it from his/her couch. Take my last trip to Las Vegas: my airline tickets were in my passbook, we booked the hotel straight from the phone due to an email I received with rates for different casinos (smart marketing automation campaigns FTW) and I took Uber to the airport. While in Vegas, we decided to rent a car and take a trip to Los Angeles for a few days. My wife looked up hotels from the passenger seat and we booked one while driving west to California. Our trip isn’t as important here as is the undeniable fact that all of it was done from an iPhone.
A responsive web site obviously makes sense in any capacity, but it’s particularly important for the hospitality industry. Travel websites, hotel websites, restaurants/bars and entertainment venues all have to be particularly cognizant of the on-the-go user. Our whitepaper on responsive design highlights that 67% of users who use mobile for shopping are more likely to buy if the site is seen as “mobile friendly.” Additionally, it’s said that 85% of travelers use their smartphones while traveling, and 46% of them use location based services to check in while out of town. Recent studies show that up to 40% of Americans used mobile devices to book or pay for their travels. 30% have used them to make last minute bookings (such as making the drive from Vegas to LA). That’s double the amount of people doing this sort of thing in 2013.
If you think this trend is going to continue to rise, you’re absolutely right. When keeping the goals for the end user in mind, functionality and an optimal user experience are key. Consider the different components that go into a hotel, travel or other hospitality industry website:
- Image galleries
- Maps and location based services
- Packages, coupons and offers
The list can go on and on. There’s a lot that’s involved in the site architecture and sitemap of travel and hospitality websites. When you take into account their target consumers are often on the go, a responsive website becomes an absolute necessity. If you’re able to transmit info to the consumer quickly, concisely and on-the-go, you’re going to see higher sales numbers, conversions and overall customer satisfaction.
Mobile App Presence and Use within Hospitality and Entertainment
Starwood hotels is an example of a hospitality giant that is taking time and care into crafting intelligent mobile applications for the consumer. Look up some of their current innovations on your smartphone or tablet:
- W Hotels iPhone app
- W Hotels mobile website
- SPG iPad app
- SPG Android app
- SPG in passbook
You’ll see fluid images and design, easy access to account information and member benefits, ecommerce solutions from stores, streaming of DJ mixes currently spinning in W hotel locations, social integration, destination discovery and ease of booking. The wonderful thing that’s happening here is they have taken the mobile user into account and are dramatically improving his or her overall convenience.
Entertainment falls under the same guidelines. Even as far back as 2012, ticket e-retailer StubHub saw impressive growth in their mobile ticket sales. In May of 2015, they announced major updates to their mobile and tablet apps for deeper integration of event management services. Personalization was key with their new algorithm, as were advancements made in ticketing (updates to scanning tickets via iPhone or smartwatch) and payment updates as well.
Social, Search and Marketing Automation Done Right
Of course, we can’t overlook meeting proper social media and search engine optimization objectives or the ability to run smart marketing automation campaigns for that matter. Brands such as The Four Seasons, SPG and W Hotels (yes, them again), Thompson Hotels, St. Regis Hotels and The Ritz Carlton run beautiful Instagram campaigns that are visual displays of pure awesome. Many hotel chains and travel websites rely on marketing automation to send personalized campaigns for weekend getaways, stays and/or travel accommodations. It’s also common to see lots of Facebook and Twitter interaction, with both of these doubling as a customer service tool. Especially Twitter; as we all know how creative, funny or even heated consumers can get while praising good service or explaining customer service issues. The point is clear: an integrated digital marketing strategy is a must within any full spectrum of marketing activity and responsive website design and development.
Always Keep Mobile in Mind
It’s no secret. Even slightly skimming the surface shows just how big of a role mobile plays for the hospitality industry. In fact, this blog hasn’t taken user generated content, reviews and location based services into account, as that’s a whole other topic of importance as well (looks like I’ll have a follow up blog to post soon). Keeping today’s mobile consumer in mind is only going to result in a positive and satisfactory use of a website or mobile applications. If your website is not responsive, it needs to be as soon as possible. If you’re not running marketing automation campaigns and capturing data through forms and email campaigns, you’re not reaching your entire customer base. If you’re not integrating social properly, you’re doing it wrong. Take these factors into account and get that integrated strategy up to place. It’s the right thing for your brand.