Corporate Eye

Luxury Hotel Brands Prioritize Mobile Marketing

ritz carlton luxury hotelLuxury brands are prioritizing mobile marketing more every day. Luxury brand mobile apps are common today, but luxury hotel brands are still struggling to find success with mobile consumers.

According to The Digital IQ Index from L2, luxury hotel mobile sites are lacking fundamental functionalities that are offered by online travel agent mobile sites like Kayak, Travelocity, and Expedia. Consumers want to quickly and easily find and book a hotel using their mobile devices, but luxury hotel mobile sites are inferior to online travel agent sites in almost every way.

Specifically, L2 found the following factors lacking in luxury hotel mobile sites:

  • Too many clicks are required to book a room using luxury hotels’ mobile sites.
  • Many luxury hotels’ mobile sites are only offered in English.
  • Mobile luxury hotel sites don’t offer enough reviews.
  • Many luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t offer maps.
  • Many luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t offer full-screen images.
  • Many luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t offer video.
  • Fewer than one in two luxury hotels’ mobile sites offer information about local activities or travel guides.
  • Many luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t offer form auto-fill.
  • Nearly two out of three luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t provide swipe functionality or tablet-optimized calendars.

As you can see from the problems listed above, there is a great deal of room for improvement for luxury hotels’ mobile websites, particularly since 83% of luxury hotels simply transfer their desktop sites to the mobile environment. Many of the features that consumers actively look for, such as reviews and full-screen images, are offered by online travel agent sites. Furthermore, most luxury hotels’ mobile sites don’t provide auto-filling of information for forms. Booking a room and having to re-enter information multiple times using a smartphone creates a terrible user experience. It’s not surprising that the majority of mobile consumers book hotel reservations through an online travel agent. Kayak and similar sites offer all of the features that consumers want when booking travel, and it’s all easily accessible in one place.

Not only are luxury hotels missing the mobile opportunity by creating inferior mobile sites, they’re also missing out on traffic and conversions. According to L2, 94% of first-page booking listings on Kayak are filled by online travel agents. Only 1.3% are luxury hotel brands. Considering there were 1.6 billion searches conducted on Kayak last year, you can bet that the lack of first page listings for luxury hotels resulted in significantly fewer direct bookings.

Even mobile apps are imperfect for luxury hotel marketing. Property-specific apps can look great and offer many unique features, but a company with many property locations would need to create separate apps for each property. Not only is this cost prohibitive, but few consumers would download more than a few apps from the same hotel brand. Creating a single app for all properties poses its own set of problems. The number of clicks to find information and book a room must be minimized, all content must be up to date, and speed, convenience, and security must be front and center for consumers.

The good news is that 89% of luxury hotel brands plan to invest in mobile sites in 2014, which is up from 63% in 2013. However, those investments won’t help boost sales significantly unless the new mobile sites offer the features listed above that consumers want and are used to getting from online travel agents.

Image: meHolidays licensed CC By-ND 2.0

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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