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Digital Marketing, Web Design

Have you asked yourself lately – or better yet, extensively tested – how well your website and your hotel booking engine perform on a mobile device? If the answer is no or not that recently, the following stats regarding the ever growing link between a responsive website and revenue streams for your hotel are certain to be of interest.

According to a 2017 survey, over half of all traffic to hotel websites now comes from a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Google itself backs up this finding and has published numerous reports which explore the rise of travellers researching, and in some cases – particularly that of the Millennials generation – booking their whole trip from a mobile device.

The 2017 survey results have important ramifications for both hotel responsive web design and hotel revenue management services. Here are a few of the key findings to inform your strategy:

Browsing can turn to booking

A dive into your Google Analytics data will reveal what percentage of bookings come from a mobile device. The 2017 survey however shows that 51% of traffic to hotel sites originates from a mobile device. There was also a 19 percent year-on-year increase in the number of guests who book after checking availability on the site booking engine.

To capture this emerging trend, your hotel responsive web design must encompass your booking engine. Consider how mobile friendly it is. How easy is it to select calendar dates and room types from the smaller screen of a smartphone for example? Can available rooms easily be seen without the need for excessive scrolling? If the answer is no, it’s time to call in professional hotel revenue management services as you’re likely missing out on mobile bookings.

More Revenue

Responsive sites generate more revenue

Revenue is 16.5% higher per site on average for responsive websites according to the survey. Look to book rates were also higher, at 5.5% for responsive sites compared with just 3.9% for sites that are non-responsive. Clearly, if your site is difficult to use on a mobile device, bookings will be a likely casualty.

What’s the industry standard?

The 2017 survey threw up one surprising result, despite the strong link between a mobile friendly site and revenue generation. Around 40% of hoteliers maintain a separate mobile site, rather than investing in hotel responsive web design.

The performance benefits of a responsive site are clear; they offer a more seamless user experience, they offer mobile SEO advantages and separate sites require more time, resources and budget to maintain.

Of course, one of the key areas to focus on when it comes to responsive web design is the hotel booking engine itself. Because responsive sites automatically resize to fit the device the content is being displayed on, being aware of mobile users when it comes to choosing your booking engine is absolutely crucial. If your website or booking engine isn’t responsive, get in touch with Digital Hotelier to find out how we can help you make more bookings and generate better revenues this year.

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Web Design

Your website is crucial for attracting customers and encouraging them to make a reservation with your hotel. With travellers choosing to research and spend their cash online, it’s more important than ever that your digital presence reflects your brand and makes the booking processes as streamlined as possible. If you’ve decided it’s time for a website overhaul, working with a web designer can be a challenge but asking four key questions first can make sure you select the right professional to work with.

According to a report from ABTA, 76% of UK holidaymakers book their holiday online and even those that choose to book via other means are very likely to conduct some level of research digitally. It gives you an incredible opportunity to reach a wider customer base from around the world but also means there’s a need for your website to meet expectations. Online shoppers are impatient. If a website takes too long to load, is difficult to navigate, or doesn’t meet their needs they’ll simply look elsewhere. That’s why working with an effective hotel web designer that understands your goals is important.

Asking yourself and a web designer these four questions can help you identify the right hotel responsive web design for your hotel.

How will the website align with the hotel’s branding and target market?

Consistent branding is crucial for any hotel, be it a small B and B or larger luxury resort. For established brands, this is an important part of ensuring continuity. Your branding should significantly influence your marketing strategy and your website is a core part of customer awareness. It’s a good idea to have set out the main branding features that you want translated to your new website, such as colour palettes, approved fonts, and logos.

web-designing-strategy

Will the website be responsive?

More bookings are taking place online and a growing share of reservations are coming from mobile devices. In 2016, 36% of consumers booked their holiday via a smartphone or tablet and it’s a trend that’s growing rapidly. It means that hotel responsive web design should be viewed as an essential. Responsive design adapts to the device your customers are using, ensuing a consistently great experience. Research shows that 56% of travellers have found the booking process through a mobile device more difficult compared to using a PC, a barrier that hotel responsive web design can eliminate.

Will the website be custom made?

There are two options when a web designer is building your website – to use pre-made templates or a fully customised design. While templates are the cheaper and quicker option, if you want a website that truly captures your hotel’s brand and style it’s a choice that’s likely to leave you feeling disappointed. Having a custom-made website gives you more freedom and the capability to build in the functions that matter to your business goals, such as integrating revenue management software.

How easy will the website be to maintain and update?

Websites need to be maintained in order to continue functioning as they should. In some cases, web designers will take responsibility for this for an ongoing fee but in others you may need to hire someone. Knowing where you can turn should technical issues arise or an update is necessary can make all the difference to the smooth running of your website.

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Web Design
Chatbots have gained massively in popularity over the last 12 months and are predicted to be one of the biggest trends within the digital marketing landscape for 2017. Chatbots harness a form of artificial intelligence to become a member of your customer service team, meaning they can handle a variety of tasks. The specificis of what chatbots are able to handle all comes down to their programming, so fundamentally there are millions of tasks that can be handed to chatbots, depending on how invested you are happy to be.
Working in messenger style platforms, chatbots saw a massive surge in popularity when Facebook launched their Messenger Chatbot platform last April. Tapping into this platform could be a vital starting point when it comes to deploying chatbots for hotels, as they have over 900 million monthly users accessing their site. However, you can have a chatbot working in any online location, and most hotel responsive web design companies will be quite rightly thinking of adding them to websites.
So how can this multi-platform tool be used to improve your guest experience?
1. Take the Booking Strain
Chatbots for hotels are often tasked with making, amending and cancelling reservations. There is nothing to stop you having a chatbot working on your Facebook page and your website simultaneously either, as each can handle multiple requests at the same time. Both can also be programmed to use the same booking or reservation system concurrently. The speed with which a chatbot can update the database is faster than that of a person, so there is no danger of double booking or misinformation.
2. Answer Common Questions
Until recently hotel responsive web design dictated that a FAQ page was made available to all site users. This was considered to be cutting-edge, but technology moves so quickly! FAQ pages mean the user has to read and scroll to find the information they need. Handing this task to a chatbot means that your customers can simply ask the question in plain English by typing it into your chatbot window. The answers are pulled from the database within milliseconds leaving the customer happy and more likely to make a booking.
qa-chatbot
3. In-Room Chatbots
Chatbots for hotels continue to develop in surprising ways. Some hotels have already started to investigate this new frontier – in November 2016 ‘Project Jetson’ was unveiled by Aloft. This clever voice activated chatbot sits in rooms and acts as a virtual personal assistant. Currently, the unit can adjust the room temperature and turn lights off and on but the skill set will expand to take on new responsibilities. While this might not be immediately accessible in all room types and for all hotel businesses, the introduction of technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and other voice technologies is promising. Smart marketers are already optimising their hotel responsive web design for voice search so allowing for further growth with features such as chatbots and in-room chatbots isn’t a big leap.
Final Thoughts
Chatbots are a phenomenal tool but come with a mild warning. Artificially intelligent chatbots need to meet a customer need, or they fall flat and are not well received. There is no point throwing out a poorly conceived bot that fails to understand what your guest actually wants to know.
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Web Design
In November 2016, Google shared an article on its Webmaster Tools blog which noted that he majority of search users turn to Google from a mobile device rather than a standard desktop or laptop. This, it said, caused problems as the Google algorithms were designed to crawl traditional web pages with lots of content, rather than the shorter and often content-light versions of mobile web pages.
In this post, the search engine revealed that in order to make its results useful, it had begun experimenting with mobile first indexing. Rumours of mobile first have been around for a while but, it’s not until this post that Google said that it would make this shift – a potentially massive change to a system established decades earlier.
So, what does mobile first indexing mean for you and how can you prepare your hotel site for this seismic change?
1. Understand what mobile first means
The first step to creating hotel responsive web design is to understand what the search engine is looking for. The mobile first index means that Google’s algorithms will use the mobile version of your site (rather than the desktop version used currently) as its primary means of understanding page content and ranking your site in its results pages.
2. Check page load times
Mobile visitors are known to be impatient, and bounce rate tracks up exponentially as page loading time lags. Google has previously stated that page loading time will be a factor so, you’ll need to ensure that the mobile version of your site renders quickly and offers a speedy experience to web users. Creating a fast loading hotel responsive web design isn’t just important for mobile first indexing – trends show that travellers (especially millennials) increasingly browse, search and book travel products including hotel rooms on mobile devices. To avoid them getting frustrated and taking their booking to a competitor, make sure your pages load quickly on mobile.
Google has a page load speed checker.
website-layout
3. Use structured markup
Google recommends that you use structured markup on the mobile and desktop versions of your site. If you already have this in place on mobile, check that you don’t have surplus or large and unwieldy markup on the mobile version.
4. Use AMP
Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) is an open source Google project which was launched to help provide a more accessible web for mobile users. In essence, it uses a truncated version of HTML to speed up page loading times.
Installing AMP and using it across your mobile content can help to improve search visibility and will put your hotel site in a better place when the mobile first index officially launches.
5. Compress images
Very large images and videos can be slow to load on mobile devices and often aren’t suited to the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Use an image compressor to make larger image sizes smaller, and keep file size in mind when you’re saving new images to publish on your site.
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Web Design
In an increasingly global society, UK hoteliers can’t afford to sit idly by when surveys of US hotels publish their results—especially when those big chains have started to make inroads into the UK. The most recent survey to sit up and take notice of is the J.D. Power and Associates’ North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

The biggest takeaways from the survey are that guests are happier with mobile user friendly hotels, and hotel responsive web design has an increased effect on direct bookings. Optimizing for mobile has never been more urgent.

Rick Garlick, Global Travel and Hospitality Practice Lead at J.D. Power said “As mobile usage becomes increasingly ubiquitous for guests, the challenge for hotels becomes twofold: First, they must persuade guests to book directly with them, and second, they must encourage easy utilization of this technology. By forging direct relationships, hotels can become guardians of the guest experience, but at the centre of these relationships is an establishment’s mobile strategy.”

The survey also noted that guests who booked through a third-party app or experience were more likely to have a problem with their stay and be less satisfied overall. Despite this statistic, there’s been a 3% upswing in bookings through online travel agencies—meaning that hotels must try optimizing for mobile as soon as possible.

responsive-devices

Mobile user friendly hotels will snare the largest portion of younger and business travellers if the trend is to continue—14% of online bookings were made on mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet in 2004, but now the percentage is 25% and rising rapidly, with those demographics navigating hotel responsive web design with ease.

You don’t have to immediately put out an app while you’re focusing on optimizing for mobile, though—38% of guests don’t even use hotel proprietary mobile apps during their stays, and only 1% use the apps to check out of their room. Making direct booking more mobile user friendly seems to be the order of the day.

However, if these statistics haven’t convinced you to focus on digital, the next one might. 86% of guests who happen to experience a problem during their stay are likely to post comments about it to social media, meaning that irregular problems can be over-reported and, without your managing of these online spaces, could potentially turn customers off from booking with you.

Because the survey is so far-reaching, it doesn’t attempt to directly compare hotel brands. Instead, the 1,000-point scale of guest satisfaction means that there are easy takeaways for brands both at home and abroad. Every hotel operates reservations, checking in and out, and hotel facilities, after all; things that are easy for guests to rank and say how much they value them.

It seems that the most valuable thing that a hotel can do now is to focus on their hotel responsive web design, as well as optimizing for mobile and making their site mobile user friendly. If trends are emerging in this year’s survey, they might dominate the survey in just another twelve months.
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Web Design
Many of the guests that walk into your hotel this year will have formulated an opinion on your business before they’ve even walked through the lobby. How? Because of your mobile website.

With smartphones now at a level of total ubiquity, it’s a safe bet that most of your customers have checked out your website before they visit. Some of them will have even used your website booking system to secure their reservation on their mobiles. Your website is one of the most crucial marketing tools in your arsenal, and it’s vital that customers are able to view it in all its glory on the device of their choice.

Mobile optimisation is no longer something hotels can ignore. Here are five ways you can master mobile optimisation for your hotel website.

Responsive web design
It goes without saying that if you’re going to optimise for mobile users, you need a hotel responsive web design. This means that your hotel website will be just as accessible and attractive when viewed on a small portrait screen as it is when you access it on your wide-screen desktop computer. A responsive site will adapt in a number of ways to ensure menus, images, forms, text and buttons will appear without the need for pinch-zooming or side-scrolling.

mobile-optimisation

Fast site speed
The modern consumer is fairly impatient. If they have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load, it’s likely that they’ll try elsewhere. Google has also deemed website speed worthy of being turned into an important SEO ranking factor – so it’s certainly worth your while to optimise your mobile site and ensure it’s running quickly and smoothly.

Mobile-friendly ads
Paid and organic search make a powerful combination, and it’s always worth trying to incorporate both into your overall strategy. But when it comes to mobile, you can’t simply lift the regular ads you’ve been using and hope they translate on smaller devices. Nowadays, you need mobile optimised ads that are more suitable for smaller screens.

Local should be focal
Local SEO and mobile website also go hand-in-hand. Location searches on mobile devices have skyrocketed in recent years, so you should make a real effort to ensure your local SEO is on point. Claim all the online business listings you can, and keep your NAPs consistent and updated. Guests searching for hotels in a particular location will be able to find you on their mobiles much more easily if your local SEO is given the attention it deserves.

Consider an app
If you believe you’ve mastered mobile optimisation for your hotel website, and you’re getting great results, it might be time to take the next step: hotel app development. An app will perform similar functions to your website, with a multitude of extra benefits. You’ll be able to collect valuable data and insights, provide a more optimised booking experience and even enhance customer service at your property from your app.

For more information about mobile optimisation, hotel app development and responsive web design for hotels, contact the Digital Hotelier team today.
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Web Design
New web design trends crop up all the time, as the demands for SEO-optimisation grow more complex and increasingly savvy consumers demand more and more from the look, feel and functionality of the web. But what are the top hotel responsive web design trends of 2017?

The theme of this year’s web design trends could easily be defined as ‘experimental’, but that adventurous spirit branches off in new and unexpected ways for designers. Read on to find out a few trends you might want to consider adding to your hotel’s own responsive web design…

Website design

1. Extreme Minimalism
In a hectic world, some web designers have decided that less is quite simply more. Employing a restricted palette and with vast expanses of white space, there are greater benefits to this digital minimalism than just providing a calming space on the web. The limited content and lack of fuss in design terms also means the websites which adopt this approach have faster load speeds, and swing towards being more mobile-friendly than their more detailed counterparts.

2. Bold Typography
As consensus grows that content – lots of it, on every topic under the sun – is what drives the internet, so too do new and inventive ways of stripping back the layers which separate browsers from reaching that content. The rise of websites with a focus on bold typographic copy front and centre (as seen on innumerable websites for everything from financial services to advertising agencies) is part of a larger trend towards transparency which eschews the conventional notions of making site visitors jump through a certain number of hoops before reaching the core of the website.

3. Bright Colour Palettes
Brights have gone mainstream this year, with all the colours of the rainbow converging to create an eclectic, cheerful aesthetic which is at once original and familiar. Whilst some web designers have stuck with a pastel palette, others have opted for acid brights, vivid gradients and two tone schemes to dazzling effect. It seems that bright colours no longer inhibit companies from being taken seriously, as this design trend is used by some very ‘serious’ and conventional industries.

4. Extreme Layering
One of the hottest web design trends of the year sees layering opportunities everywhere; layering text, layering images, layering colour schemes. It’s an effect so curious as to almost look dated, but by mixing different depths and textures, the look somehow remains thoroughly future forward – and just as mobile responsive as a more staid design philosophy.

5. Illustration
Illustration proves it isn’t just for kids this year – websites which harness the power of illustration are everywhere in 2017 – used in diverse industries and business niches. Bright colours, muted colours; graphic illustration and sketch animation – all are widely visible under this umbrella. The emphasis seems to be on creating a vivid, cutesy vision for the companies employing this approach – and it works.
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Web Design
The chances are your hotel has a website to advertise all its rooms and amenities and, ideally, to ensure travellers can book rooms directly. If that’s the case (and if not, seriously, why don’t you have a site?), then one thing you may or may not be aware of is the importance of speed. Specifically, the speed it takes for the site – and its pages – to load when someone visits it. Plus, don’t doubt it, of just as much importance is the need for the site and its pages to appear successfully on mobile devices.

Page Speed

That’s because it doesn’t take a genius to realise smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous; practically everybody seems to have one today – indeed, research last year concluded that nearly than two-thirds (65%) of the time people spend accessing digital media is conducted via mobile. And, if you’re not convinced of the importance of page loading speed, consider the fact that, these days, 40% of mobile users abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Yes, really.

So, if it’s now occurring to you that your hotel site could look better on mobile and could load faster, don’t fret; help’s available thanks to a recently launched project from Google called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
 
What is AMP?
Put simply, AMP ensures that the page loading time of web pages is, yes, ‘accelerated’ on mobile devices, while they’re also smartly tailored to fit a mobile or tablet screen perfectly. How does it work? Well, AMP basically cuts out the clutter that ordinarily appears on a page, the sort of stuff (flash ads, big banners and pop ups) that can considerably slow down its loading. It does this by removing data and only keeping necessary code – an AMP page is best facilitated to do this when it’s been built using specialist HTML, CSS and JavaScript codes, with mobile-friendly protocols thrown in. It may not provide the easiest-on-the-eye experience, sure; but it’ll provide a clever and effective hotel responsive web design, which is the whole point.

And, when it comes to mobile responsive web design, AMP comes up trumps as it enables fast loading on a handheld device because it only loads content that fits within the parameters of the device’s screen. This means that additional content doesn’t load until the user wants to see it and scrolls down in order to do so. Indeed, there’s another upside to this – less downloading time means fewer bounced visitors which, in turn, means AMP pages indirectly boost a website’s search engine optimised (SEO) rankings, as more people are visiting a site for longer. Which is a moot point because, in the not too dim future, it may well be that Google starts favouring more mobile-friendly web pages in its search page rankings.
 
How to get the most out of AMP?
So, AMP certainly sounds good, but how can you truly get the best you possibly can from it, should you part with good money to put it on your site? Well, it’s an initiative that’s also been designed to encourage user engagement, which means driving up visitors clicking links (Google loves ‘link clicking’ and SEO). In which case, you’d be best advised to apply AMP to the pages of your site on which clicks are going to really matter; that is, when clicks are going to make you money. That means pages that feature room and amenity details, promotions and takes users to a booking engine. Not only then will it improve mobile users’ experience of your site, but it’ll also boost your revenue from their visits. 
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