Op-Ed: Mobilegeddon is Not the Apocalypse, But a Wake-Up Call for Hotels

The following is a guest contributed post from Gautam Lulla, President of Travel Tripper. Earlier this year, Google announced it was launching a new algorithm that would penalize websites for not being mobile-friendly while increasing search visibility for those that were. The impending launch was ominously coined ‘Mobilegeddon.’ Industry experts believed that companies unprepared for …   Read More

2021 0
2021 0

Op-Ed Mobilegeddon is Not the Apocalypse, But a Wake-Up Call for HotelsThe following is a guest contributed post from Gautam Lulla, President of Travel Tripper.

Earlier this year, Google announced it was launching a new algorithm that would penalize websites for not being mobile-friendly while increasing search visibility for those that were.

The impending launch was ominously coined ‘Mobilegeddon.’ Industry experts believed that companies unprepared for the update would be hit hard. In a seriously competitive marketplace like the hotel industry, those without a mobile-friendly website faced a precipitous decline in page ranking.

But since Google launched their algorithm this April, things haven’t turned out to be quite so apocalyptic as first feared.

So, where does that leave the hotel industry? If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, does it really matter? The short answer is – yes. It matters quite a lot. For a whole number of reasons.

The shift away from the desktop  

Post-mobilegeddon, it’s clear that mobile-friendly websites are still much favoured by search engines. A recent article by Forbes stressed that Google will continue to place greater emphasis on promoting sites that offer a mobile experience.

But there’s something else to consider. Hotel rooms are now booked almost exclusively via the web. In fact, the latest Consumer Barometer report from Google revealed four out of five consumers book online.

That’s a figure to be taken seriously.

But perhaps even more significant is the consumer shift away from the desktop computer. In 2014, smartphones and tablets accounted for 21% of hotel bookings. By 2018, mobile bookings are predicted to hit 35% total online bookings.

Given the number of devices tech-savvy customers are now using to research and book, hotels need to have a website that works seamlessly across multiple platforms.

A rise in last minute bookings

Last minute bookings are also on the rise. Hotels.com recently reported that 50 percent of its customers are now booking rooms on the same or next day. Stats like this indicate the ability for a customer to book a room on the move is clearly crucial.

This last minute mindset also changes the whole dynamic of how a hotel search takes place and a reservation gets made.

Instead of casual browsing from the comfort of a desktop, customers making a late booking might be engaged in another activity. Maybe they’re in the middle of packing. Or herding the kids into the back of a taxi on the way to the airport.

If they’re busy, distracted or perhaps a bit stressed, the whole booking experience needs to be made as straightforward a possible. If a website isn’t optimised for use beyond the desktop, a booking could easily be lost.

Emails on mobile

The latest figures also report that 48% of emails are now opened on a mobile device. Given the ongoing relationship a hotel might have with a customer post-booking (welcome emails, feedback forms, promoting future offers), it’s essential to ensure all future correspondence works smoothly across all devices.

Responsive design vs mobile-specific sites

The debate then turns a little more technical. If you’re convinced that a mobile site is the way to go, you’ll need to decide how it’s delivered. Typically, this involves choosing between a responsive design or mobile-specific site.

The major benefit of a responsive site is that you only need to build the website once. This version will then automatically optimise itself to whatever device it’s being accessed on, seamlessly transitioning between desktop, smartphone or tablet.

Also, a responsive website only uses one URL, making it better for SEO purposes and easier for users to find your site and share your content. Load times are also reduced thanks to the fact there are no redirects.

As for the mobile-specific option? This involves a separate and stripped-down version of the main website.

It’s less costly and easier to set up short-term, but having different content across two devices can make things trickier when it comes to data management. The different layout and design also means the user-experience is less consistent.

Longer-term, a mobile-specific site can also work out more costly. As new devices are rolled out in future months and years, it’ll potentially need overhauling to operate on these new platforms.

Certainly for hotels, the benefits of having easily sharable and consistent content arguably makes responsive a better way to go.

Conclusion

Even though the supposedly game-changing impact of Google’s new algorithm hasn’t proven quite as dramatic as predicted, there’s a clear indication that priming a website for mobile is vital.

For hotels, the importance can’t be overstated. Hoteliers that understand the nuances of the ever-changing online journey and stay on top of these evolving trends will ultimately be rewarded, and not just by the preferential ranking dished out by the search engine behemoths.

As the shift from desktop to mobile gathers momentum, a seamless multi-platform experience that makes booking and browsing feel easy will tick a very big box for the demands of the modern traveler, too.

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