Savvy hoteliers are adopting a mobile first approach to their hotel website and seeing the benefits with higher direct bookings and better engagement with customers.
Hotel website traffic trends
Since 2012 we have seen the level of desktop and laptop users to hotel websites decrease. Mobile and tablet users increased up to January 2015, when tablet use also started to decline. Mobile users have continued to increase, surpassing desktop users in January 2018.
In light of this, Google has changed how it works. It now crawls the mobile site first, and if there’s no mobile friendly version they’ll crawl the desktop version instead. The results determine the rankings for mobile and desktop, so if a hotel doesn’t have a mobile friendly version of their site, this will negatively impact their rankings on both mobile and desktop.
This means that a hotel needs the best mobile site possible to perform well in Google searches.
Hotels near me
Another trend linked to the rise of mobile usage are new search terms such as ‘hotels near me’. How and when people search for accommodation is evolving alongside their behaviour for booking hotels. Tourists are increasingly more flexible, looking to ‘live like a local’ and have ‘experiences’. To capitalise on this, hotel websites need to be optimised with the best search terms so that they can be found on search engines as well as Google maps.
The difference between static websites vs adaptive vs responsive vs mobile-first
Hotels have several options for providing a great mobile experience, but we recommend a mobile-first responsive approach.
Static web design
This is a website that does not change for display on a mobile device. Mobile users get the desktop version. No one wants this option!
Responsive web design
Designed for desktop size screens first. A mobile or desktop browser will load the whole site, however it will hide and show different sections depending on screen size. The content is re-sized to fit on smaller devices. This used to suit most hotel needs in 2016 - 2017.
Adaptive web design
Each screen size has its own design and content. The site will check the device before sending anything to the user and then send the correct site depending on the device requesting it. This works well but is too expensive for most hotels as it requires considerably more design, development and administration.
Mobile first web design
We created a new option. A hybrid mobile-first website. This takes the best elements of responsive and adaptive. Some sections are responsive, some are adaptive, and some are both. This gives website managers the option to choose what devices each page section is loaded on. This is faster than a responsive website. Rather than downloading and hiding sections, a hybrid mobile-first website only downloads content that is to be displayed. Users and Google both like this, it’s faster for the user to load your site and Google likes fast sites, so ranks them higher.
Perfect for hotels who want to increase direct bookings and take advantage of users on mobile devices.
What makes a good mobile design for hotels?
There are many areas that a great designer will consider when developing a mobile first website for a hotel.
1. Thumb friendly mobile links
Buttons and links need to be large and link to deeper content
2. Less words
We always recommend writing the copy twice, first for mobile devices, keeping the content short and concise, then for desktops/tablets with longer, more descriptive prose.
3. Mobile ready booking engine
Not all booking engines are the same, and some perform better on mobile devices.
4. Fast mobile page speed
There is a balance to strike here, you will want to have great images and possibly video, but not so much that it slows your site down. Mobile pages should start to load in 1-3 seconds. Tools like google page speed insights can be used to check this. A score of 60 or over for mobile devices is good.
5. Mobile ready content management
The best content management systems let content writers and web owners publish different content to different devices all managed in one place. So specific content is only shown on mobiles, while different content can be shown on larger devices.
6. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for mobile first hotel websites
Strong SEO features are also needed so that your mobile and desktop websites can be optimised separately.
Check out our case study page for examples of mobile first website thinking.