With mobile traffic outstripping desktop and mobile bookings on the rise, a mobile website is now a must for hotels. However, all mobile websites were not created equal.
There are lots of ways to improve your mobile website – or to slow it down. Some of these are best left to a professional web design team, but there are things your hotel can take control of too. We want to give you 6 easy ways to improve mobile speed and engagement.
Here are our best tips. Take a look to get a streamlined mobile site that works effectively to get your hotel direct bookings:
1. Fewer and Lighter Images
You must reduce the content on your desktop site when you move to your mobile website. Images have much more digital ‘weight’ than text, so they are even more important to cut back on.
Keep it to one image per page, where possible (you’ll probably want to make an exception for your gallery pages!). While images are important for hotel websites, you must balance that with the user experience. You can also compress images to make sure they’re as light as they can possibly be.
If people find themselves waiting too long for a page to load because you’ve crammed it with images, they might leave entirely. On pages like galleries, make sure the images only load as people scroll down the page – this reduces load time.
2. Host Videos on YouTube, not your site!
Instead of hosting videos on your website, post them on YouTube and embed them. This has a few advantages.
Firstly, videos won’t need to load with the page – instead, they’ll only load when a user is ready to watch. This speeds up the page. Secondly, if your video is on YouTube, you can use it in video advertisements across Google if you wish.
Keep your site light, fast and user-friendly by embedding videos.
3. Keep Forms Short and Sweet
As with most things on your hotel’s mobile website, the rule of thumb for forms is to keep it short and simple. This is hugely important when you’re getting guests to actually sign up for your newsletter or make a booking.
Consider what information you absolutely need from a guest during booking – it may be as simple as a name, email address, phone number and credit card number, once they’ve selected their booking package.
If you’re focused on segmentation as part of your revenue management strategy, this may mean training your front of house to assiduously collect and record other details on check-in, like reasons for travelling, address and more. However, if you can avoid making guests fill this out when they book online, you’ll increase your conversion rate.
4. Don’t Try to Squeeze in Interactive Maps
Say your map takes half a screen, and you want people to be able to scroll around it and zoom. That’s already quite a small area of real estate you’re working with. If your map hasn’t loaded properly, your visitors will end up frustrated.
Instead, just link a map button or a still image of a map to the Google Maps app. You can link it directly to your hotel’s address, and even include directions in the URL if you like.
5. Add Text to Icons so Users Know What They Mean
You can’t count on all your icons to be identifiable to everyone browsing your hotel’s mobile website. While the ‘hamburger’ icon is a classic way to display a menu, even that icon can cause brief hesitations.
These hesitations are referred to as friction, those small frustrations and misunderstandings that ultimately leave your potential guests more focused on trying to navigate your site than in making a booking. The more friction you have on your site, the lower your conversions and higher your bounce rate will be.
To avoid that, just make sure all your icons have small text labels to identify them, to even your least-technologically savvy visitors.
6. Lighten Up Your Desktop Content for Mobile
This follows on from reducing your number of images. When designing for a desktop-first experience, you may have written lovely, lengthy paragraphs describing your hotel and grounds. However, when you’re writing for mobile, you need to cut it down. Ideally, you keep the content light and have the same content on each platform.
As a general rule, people read less than we think they do (about 60% of the text on any given page). Make sure your pages are scannable – that people can easily see an image, a quick description with the relevant facts highlighted, and a way to go to the next step, e.g. the ‘Book Now’ button.
If you find that you have a lot of information you need to get on to one page, try using:
- bolded text for key points
- bulleted lists
- very short paragraphs with a single topic each
For images, turn off elements that don’t get much engagement on mobile. These might be image carousels, or the second half of the 58 images you want to include in your gallery. Take a look at what your visitors are actually looking at, then make your decisions.
These 6 solutions are easy to put into place, even if you’ve already got an established mobile website.
If you’re just getting started on mobile, proceed carefully. Follow best practice wherever you can, and avoid crowding your site later on with too much content or distracting features.
Your focus should ultimately be on creating the best experience for your guests, not following a specific trend or on focusing on aesthetics over conversion. Work with your design team to create a website that is not only beautiful, but easy and simple to browse and book.
Words by Tayor Smariga.