A new report confirms that the relentless growth of mobile browsing and mobile booking in the travel industry continues apace. This has far-reaching implications for all independent vacation rental owners.
According to Expedia Media Solutions timely report, consumers in the UK are using mobile devices more than ever before to engage with digital travel content. We’re talking here of mobile laptop PCs, tablets and smartphones.
The study found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 48 million people in the UK accessing digital content across smartphones, tablets and PCs interact with travel-related content. This compares with two-thirds (63 percent) in the US.
Why we need to take notice
Why we all need to sit up and take notice is because of our increasing reliance on the worldwide web for access to our guests and potential guests. It’s vital that our websites are mobile-friendly and present properly to users as clear, navigable pages. Not just on a desktop PC screen, but across all mobile devices.
As regular readers of my blog will know already, there’s another good reason. Google is making us take notice of it if we wish to figure in their online searches. In my May 15 blog I reported their announcement: ‘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.’
I said then, and it’s even truer now: ‘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 development is serious if you’re an independent vacation rental owner without a mobile-friendly website.’
Google may not show your website in searches
If your website was not optimized for mobile booking before 21 April this year, it may not even get to appear in front of potential guests as Google will now overlook it.
If a website is not ‘optimized’, important information may not appear on the mobile screen. Also, any graphic design effects could be compromised and the site will be difficult to navigate. The result will likely be that the impatient viewer gives up and looks elsewhere for a more easily-accessible, mobile-friendly website.
Back to that Expedia report which also found that the total UK travel audience accessing via mobile now equals that of the PC as mobile device ownership and usage continues to grow there.
Another interesting fact from this report: when looking at different travel segments, the luxury traveler is more likely to book travel on both the tablet (64 percent) and smartphone (35 percent) than the family, budget or business traveler. So if you’re a British owner like myself with an upscale property, this finding could be especially relevant.
The growth of mobile booking is a worldwide phenomenon and even though this report shows the UK to be at the leading edge, huge markets such as the US are not far behind in this trend toward mobile booking.
As the owner of a Florida vacation rental property and as someone involved in the development of systems to help independent vacation rental owners run their properties, I saw this coming some years ago and took action. My own website has been mobile-friendly for some time.
Flipside can mean increased bookings
The flipside of the growth in mobile booking will ultimately benefit independent vacation rental owners. The rapid uptake of mobile devices in our market is opening up lots of potential avenues for those with an optimized, mobile-friendly website. This means opportunities for increased bookings from mobile booking.
If you don’t already have a mobile-optimized site, there are several options. You could upgrade your existing website so that you can participate in mobile booking, or you can sign up with a service provider to do this for you. Choose a good software-as-a-service provider (SaaS) and you’ll not only get an optimized, mobile-friendly website but you’ll also get the tools you need to benefit from this burgeoning mobile booking market.
See for yourself
If you want to know how a website presents on a smartphone or tablet, visit your own site using one of these devices. Then try a few competitors to see how they shape up. You will easily spot those that have optimization and those that don’t.