Upscale hotel brands are booking more mobile investments to regain sales lost to online travel agencies. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by L2, a subscription-based business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands.
According to the report — “Digital IQ Index: Prestige Hotels” — online travel agencies (OTAs) account for 64 percent of mobile hotel bookings, and are positioned to maintain that advantage. Consumers appear to prefer to book via mobile sites. That may be because 50 percent of United States brand mobile sites require six or more clicks to complete a transaction, an unwieldy process that too often leads to aborted bookings.
The study on which the report is based was intended to assess the digital competence of 66 Luxury, Upper Upscale, and Upscale hotels.
Many hotel brand mobile sites are lacking in crucial areas. For instance, travelers on-the-go like to access maps to get a sense of where a hotel is situated, but 42 percent of U.S. hotel mobile sites do not offer a map feature. As desktop Web sites are overhauled to enable a more experiential visit, only 35 percent of mobile sites offer full-screen images, a mere 14 percent offer video, and just 45 percent include local activities and travel guides.
True, efficiency can sometimes make up for less than dazzling content on mobile, but many hotel mobile sites remain labyrinthine. In addition to extensive clicks, the study found that 39 percent of brand sites do not feature information auto-fill. Outside of the U.S., the picture is even more distressing, with many Chinese and French mobile sites lacking the most basic features.
Luckily, brands recognize the need for speedy and engaging mobile sites. Reportedly, 89 percent are making investments, up from 63 percent in 2013.
Although brands have a great opportunity to generate revenue via tablet, 83 percent of indexed hotels choose to simply transfer their desktop site. Also, 62 percent of tablet sites do not feature swipe functionality and only 41 percent have tablet-optimized calendars. Sadly, 68 percent of booking apps do not cater to non-English speakers.
Property-specific apps offer obvious benefits, according to the study. For instance, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest is letting prospective guests explore the property beforehand with a 360-degree immersive application.
The Room360 app uses spherical filming technology for relatively seamless tours of the property’s interior. As consumers continue to increase the amount of research they do prior to a trip, brands will have to meet the demand with similar apps and content in order to remain competitive in the mobile space.
To read more about the findings of the report, click here.