By: Rod Jimenez, Chief Operating Officer, Sceptre Hospitality Resources
As smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices evolve, consumers are thrown into an age where they can complete almost any task on-the-go, across multiple devices, at their convenience. With this growing trend, it makes sense that consumers are changing the way they book hotel rooms. Given the still somewhat inconvenient mobile payment phase in a smart phone, a growing number of bookings are completed in a cross-context/cross-device environment. For example, a hotel search can be started on a mobile device, continued on a tablet, and confirmed on a desktop or with a call to the hotel’s central reservations office.
It is important for hotels to respond to this trend to deliver an easy, even enjoyable, booking experience for their guests. The following tips will help propel your property into the age of mobile.
1. Incorporate Responsive Design
Responsive design makes it possible to have a consistent experience that adapts to the size of the screen being used to research or book a hotel stay. This should apply not just to a web site, but to the booking engine itself. An added benefit is that this makes the maintenance of different booking engines for desktop, tablet, and smart phones no longer needed, which in turn means savings and efficiency.
2. Change the way you think about your booking engine
The convergence of the hotel website and the booking engine is more important than ever. The line between the two should become blurry very quickly… i.e. Hotels should think of their website as their booking engine and their booking engine as their web site.
3. Create a booking experience, not just a booking process
You should think of the booking process as the first experience a guest has with your property. They will expect the ability to very seamlessly jump between contexts, and you need to deliver. For example, it should be very easy and intuitive for a mobile phone user to complete the payment process via a desktop or even a call to a phone agent. This requires that the booking engine be equipped with features like shopping cart functionality that allows a user to save a cart for later booking and call center integration so that one touch connects the user with a reservations agent who has access to the user’s partially completed booking.
This makes it possible to avoid having the guest repeat the portion of the process he has already completed on the mobile device, which improves conversion and guest satisfaction with the process.
4. Implement mobile payment platforms
Integration of the CRS with mobile payment platforms like Google Wallet will also become important in facilitating conversion from mobile channels. If the guest is detected to be logged into a particular ecosystem, like Google, then it becomes logical to allow him or her to complete a transaction with just one extra click.
This is an exciting trend for hoteliers and the analysis of data on user patterns and behaviors will prove very valuable as CRS providers continue to adapt to this new paradigm.