If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website I’m afraid there’s bad news for you on two fronts. Google have announced that it better be! And a recent Skift report shows how more and more travelers are booking their vacations on mobile devices.
These two events, happening almost simultaneously, underline the importance of a mobile-friendly website. This means that your website should be easily viewable and navigable on the mobile devices that are increasingly being used.
As well as looking good and being easily navigable on a desktop screen, it should be just as effective (though configured differently) on the screen of a mobile laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Having a mobile-friendly website is significant
As someone with a technical background, a developer of digital services for independent vacation rental owners, and an owner myself, I am keenly aware of the significance of these developments.
Let’s look at Google’s announcement first. Here’s what they said: ‘Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.’
If they’re saying it’s significant, we’d better believe it. Consider the proportion of your bookings that come from online sources and the prime position Google holds in deciding your visibility on the web. This is serious if you’re an independent vacation rental owner without a mobile-friendly website.
Browsers may go elsewhere to book
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, if a website is not ‘optimized’, important information may not appear on the mobile screen, any graphic design effects could be compromised and the site will be difficult to navigate. The result will likely be that the impatient browser gives up and looks elsewhere for a more easily-accessible, mobile-friendly website.
Now, following Google’s move, your website may not even appear in front of potential guests as Google will overlook it.
It’s not all bad news by any means. The rapid uptake of mobile devices in our market is opening up lots of potential avenues for those with an optimized, mobile-friendly website.
Opportunities for increased bookings
And that means opportunities for increased bookings. So what’s to be done if you’re an independent without this facility? There are 2 options: upgrade your existing website so that you can at least participate in the game, or sign up with a service provider who will provide you with an optimized, mobile-friendly website and the tools to benefit from this burgeoning market.
Once on board with mobile optimization, you can begin to benefit and need have no fear of the findings of that Skift report I mentioned.
Bookings direct from smartphones
According to Skift’s 2015 State of Travel Report (Europe), bookings via mobile smartphones in Europe have risen from 6% of total bookings to 17% in 2015 and are estimated to reach 22% by 2016. By next year, they predict that 70% of European leisure travelers will be using mobile phones. Many will even be viewing and booking directly from their smartphones!
So, it looks like the writing’s on the wall as to where the future of internet booking of vacation rentals is going. But it can be seen as a good outlook – all the tools are there if we choose to use them. But it does look as if Google is giving us a big push from behind.
Try this at home…
If you don’t yet have an optimized mobile-friendly website and want to know what one looks like, visit your own site via smartphone. Then try a few competitors to see how they shape up. You should easily spot those that do have optimization.