August 1, 2013

Are Your Guests Phoning it in?

Recently, I attended a luncheon at the Google headquarters here in NYC. The topic of the discussion was Digital Marketing Best Practices and Planning for 2014. Travelers’ search habits are changing and at a rapid pace. While I know this, even I was surprised at some of the statistics. I thought I would share them with you and together we can be prepared for 2014.

Lodging searches are up nearly 24% which is terrific; however, what’s important to understand is how guests are searching and their behavior when booking. Desktop searches are down 4% and, not surprisingly, searches on the ubiquitous tablets are up 180%. Guests’ searches on mobile devices are up 68%, but it’s the behavior of these mobile searchers that is interesting and noteworthy. An astonishing seven out of ten mobile bookings happen by phone. Nearly everyone seems attached to their mobile devices. And although we have become proficient at searching, typing reservation information is tedious for most people. With the ease of making the call (after all you’re using your phone already), it’s not surprising, if you think about it, how many telephone inquiries are coming from guests doing searches on mobile devices. This fact and these numbers really distort traditional analytics, making them less meaningful (for a refresher on how to read traffic reports, review “Tracking Your Website Traffic” in Chapter 15 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies).

The good news is guests are making reservations. The bad news is mobile is making it that much harder for you to know which sites are working for you, because so many innkeepers rely on traditional analytics when making advertising decisions. It's important for you to understand this, because when a guest makes a booking after they have found you on sites such as BnBFinder-Mobile, it's not going to show up on your traffic report. Speaking of mobile, if you don't have a mobile site yet, you should consider investing in one (look at the statistics and you will see mobile usage is growing). BnBFinder guests are not missing out because we have created mobile-optimized listings on BnBFinder-Mobile.

2014 will be the year of three screens (desktop, tablet and mobile) and you need to be sure you understand how your guests are searching on each of these devices. While starting to decline, those guests using a desktop computer will look at many sites before choosing where to stay. So, to be accurate, your tracking needs to reflect ALL of the sites that guests look at when making their reservation decision. Most regular websites will work well on a tablet; but given their popularity, now is a good time to check how your site and reservation system looks and works on a tablet. Finally, it's important to realize that many guests who call you have found you on mobile sites, either your own mobile site or sites such as BnBFinder-Mobile.

That should take care of most of 2014....anyone want to venture a guess about what 2015 will bring?

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