Mobile Practice Lead, Mark Emery, delves into mobile solutions for the hospitality industry. Using key examples from the work Definition 6 executed for La Quinta Inns & Suites, Mark explains some best practices brands may utilize for a successful mobile web strategy.
Mobilizing the Hospitality Industry
Mark Emery: The hospitality industry was really quick to develop e-commerce websites back in the late 90’s during the first tech boom if you will. Shortly after, they began to get into mobile as well and they were some of the early investors and adopters of mobile technology. They built lots of mobile websites and applications 10-12 years ago. Unfortunately for many, that’s where the investment stopped. Where we’re at today is we have consumers on faster and faster devices running on faster networks expecting rich experiences that are not delivered by a lot of hospitality websites simply because they were built a long time ago when you had to build for slower networks and devices.
La Quinta’s Mobile Solution
Mark Emery: Whereas most initial investments in mobile websites are really extensions of that is happening on the PC or desktop web, the new La Quinta mobile solution is the result of taking a look at what the mobile audiences want from the ground up and developing mobile content that is optimized specifically for a mobile audience. It’s the question of developing an optimized experience versus porting what’s already happening on the web. To do that effectively it takes looking at your audience form the ground up.
La Quinta Re-Invents Mobile Booking
Mark Emery: La Quinta identified the booking process as a uniquely painful experience on most hotel websites and got serious about re-imagining / re-inventing that experience for their mobile audience. What they came away with was the LQ-Instant Hold™. The Instant Hold feature of their mobile website and downloadable applications allows the user to book a hotel room without entering a credit card or filling out a complicated form and simply entering a 10 digit mobile phone number.
La Quinta’s Innovative Mobile Experience
Mark Emery: The La Quinta Instant Hold is definitely unique. In fact, they’re actually trademarking the instant hold. Another is this website experience we developed for them is contextually aware. It’s predictive in nature so when I go to LQ.com on my mobile device as a new user, I’ll be asked for my permission to use my location and it will immediately show me results of hotels in my area. If I’m a repeat customer or perhaps I am on on-site or even post-stay the mobile website changes its performance and changes its behavior based on where I am at in that whole revenue cycle.
Tips for Brands Entering the Mobile Landscape
Mark Emery: If you have a website at all, which you probably do, your mobile users are already using your website on mobile. They’re probably not getting what they want (or they are) in which case the first thing I would recommend doing is taking a look at your web analytics and take a look at a few things there. Check out what types of devices are accessing your site currently and where they’re jumping off, how much time they’re spending on the site, what they’re able to get and what they’re not able to get. You’re actually able to glean a lot of useful data about how your website is performing on mobile devices by simply looking at your web logs.
Why is it So Important for Brands to Address Mobile?
Mark Emery: Really there are two reasons; One, simply because consumers are holding powerful devices and expect really rich experiences on those powerful devices. They’re accessing data on high speed networks. Something like 60% of all smartphone data traffic happens over a Wi-Fi connection here in the United States so they’re expecting demand rich experiences. The second one is simply the fact that our work, our lives as Americans and as global citizens for that matter is increasingly transient. We’re always on the go, we’re always in movement. Creating a mobile website and a downloadable application for people that are in motion was a smart thing for La Quinta do and it would be a wise thing to do for other organizations in the hospitality industry to take a look at.