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The rise of smartphones and tablets has given way to an undeniable truth: The ...

The rise of smartphones and tablets has given way to an undeniable truth: The
internet is mobile. We don’t sit down in front of a computer to “go online;” we
simply are online, all the time: on the couch, in the kitchen, at work, around town and abroad.

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  • 1. Six Critical Mobile Optimization Tactics Every Hotelier Should Know Tweet this Email this
  • 2. Welcome to the mobile internet 2 Optimization is critical 3 Six things every hotelier should do to optimize for smartphones and tablets 4 1. Think about interface and screen size 4 2. Add eye-pleasing visuals 5 3. Make booking easy 6 4. Take advantage of the platform 7 5. Make your mobile site social-ready 8 6. Display redeemable special offers 9 Bringing it all together 10 One last mobile marketing tip: Measure! 11 Next steps 12 About VFM Leonardo 13 -1Tweet this Email this
  • 3. Welcome to the mobile internet The rise of smartphones and tablets has given way to an undeniable truth: The internet is mobile. We don’t sit down in front of a computer to “go online;” we simply are online, all the time: on the couch, in the kitchen, at work, around town and abroad. This paradigm shift has led to a simple reality for businesses in their efforts to attract new clients. A mobile presence is no longer an option; it’s an absolute necessity. The travel industry is certainly not immune to the mobile shift. 2012 was a banner year for travel research, planning and purchasing on mobile devices: Nineteen percent of all travel queries in 2012 came from a mobile device (up from 11 percent in 2011 1) Approximately 36 million Americans used a smartphone to research travel and plan their vacation 2. Sixteen million U.S. travelers booked a trip via their smartphone – four times as many as in 2011 3. Two-thirds of tablet owners made a travel purchase on their device in the first half of 2012. Ninety percent of tablet owners said they would book on their device in the future4. Perhaps most importantly, almost half of all travel searches on a mobile device result in a purchase5. The news only gets better in 2013: January saw an all-time high of 27.1 percent of all travel queries come from a mobile device6. When you consider that the smartphone market was merely a blip before 2007 (and the tablet market nonexistent before 2010), the rate of growth is impressive. -2- With this in mind, there’s a clear opportunity for you to reach out to potential mobile visitors and tell your hotel’s story. While different devices and screen sizes might call for slightly different storytelling methods, the capabilities of these smallbut-formidable devices, the “personal feel” they provide and the clarity of their screens combine to offer powerful visual storytelling opportunities. Tweet this Email this
  • 4. Optimization is critical As a hotel marketer, when it comes to your website, you can’t be satisfied with a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. Even if you already have an effective website that works well on standard computer screens, simply presenting the same site on mobile devices isn’t an effective method of telling your hotel’s story to capture mobile visitors. Your site needs to be optimized for mobile devices, ensuring that your hotel’s story is properly communicated and shared effectively with the mobile website visitor. With that in mind, we compiled six critical tips for mobile optimization. We’ll cover best practices for both smartphones and tablets, including the top strategies expert marketers use to capture mobile clicks and leads. Before we get started, keep this fundamental tip in mind: No matter what platform a user finds your property on – desktop, smartphone or tablet – it’s critical to maintain your hotel’s story and identity. Even though each site is optimized for its respective platform, it’s important to ensure visitors recognize who you are immediately. By ensuring your logos and branding elements, as well the tone of your writing, are consistent across the board, you’ll make a strong impression on new visitors and add a sense of familiarity to repeat customers. Go Figure! Three smartphone-optimized statistics 1. Approximately 75 percent of all smartphone owners use their smartphones to surf the web19. 2. The average smartphone user makes up to 24 website visits per day20. 3. Over one-third of U.S. smartphone owners have used their device to make a purchase21. -3Tweet this Email this
  • 5. Six things every hotelier should do to optimize for smartphones and tablets With mobile usage surging, now is the time to leverage these devices to tell your hotel’s story. Here are the top six things you need to do to build a great online experience for your mobile visitors. 1. Think about interface and screen size Since the majority of smartphones and tablets are touchscreen devices, remember the user’s fingertip is the primary input device; clearly marked, reasonably large buttons are generally far better than tiny hotspots, clickable images, or embedded text links. In addition, minimize the amount of typing and data entry your visitors need to do. Use location services to learn where they are and use cookies to recall previously-entered data, and make items “fingertipfriendly” – ensure links are easily tap-able, allow swiping to move through tabs or photos, offer drop downs for selections and include “Previous” and “Next” buttons to help guide users through the booking process. Small and simple for smartphones. When developing your smartphoneoptimized site, always keep in mind the size of the device your visitors are using. Although smartphones are generally trending upward in size, they are still pocket-sized devices. That small screen size demands a different approach to user design, with a focus on clean, simple navigation. Display information in a single column (so users can avoid scrolling horizontally), and avoid cluttering pages with too much information. Take it up a notch on tablets. Tablets offer a lot more room to play with. You can add tabs and more buttons to navigate deeper into your site; you can also include larger visuals to tell your story, which we’ll talk about in more detail later on. Still, keep in mind that although tablets offer larger screens than smartphones, these screens are still not as large as a desktop’s. As such, it’s important to be clear on exactly what each tab or button on your site does. Ensure links and callsto-action look tap-able, keeping in mind that “hover states” and mouse-over actions (that indicate where a link goes on a desktop) do not exist on a tablet. When buttons aren’t appropriate, use clear contrasting colors or underlines in text links. -4- Keep your fonts large and crisp, and ensure a decent amount of padding around different elements (buttons, links, text paragraphs) to avoid clutter. Increased “white space” can help give your site a clean, visually pleasing look. Go Figure! Three tablet-optimized statistics 1. There are nearly 70 million tablet users in the U.S. alone22. 2. Tablet traffic worldwide is expected to exceed that of smartphones this year23. 3. In 2012, the number of mobile-connected tablets more than doubled – and each tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone24. Tweet this Email this
  • 6. 2. Add eye-pleasing visuals High-resolution smartphone screens and larger tablet screens are ideal for viewing videos, virtual tours and high resolutions photographs – all the tools you need to tell your hotel’s story with rich, engaging visuals. Recent figures suggest watching video is one of the most popular things people do on their mobile devices: More than half of all mobile web traffic in 2012 was video content7. Smartphone users want speed. While watching a movie on a four-inch screen may not be ideal, people are still watching video on their phones; one-quarter of all smartphone data consumed is in the form of video. But a recent survey of smartphone users found speed was still key: 64 percent of users in the U.S. said they wanted a site to load within four seconds, with 16 percent of respondents saying they would abandon a site completely and never return if it didn’t load promptly.8 This makes optimization critical to your smartphone site. While you want to tell your story with great videos and beautiful photographs, you definitely don’t want to drive visitors away before they get to see them! With this in mind, ensure that animation, video, and high-resolution photographs are properly sized and optimized for speed. Tablets users want video. More than 50 percent more video viewing takes place on tablets than on smartphones9, and mobile video overall is expected to grow 75 per cent by 2017 10. When it comes to travel, 89 percent of leisure travelers (and a whopping 93 per cent of business travelers) use online video in their travel planning11. With these facts in mind, the value of adding video to your tablet site is a clear one. Options to consider include everything from promotional videos of your property to videos of events and things to do around town. Don’t stop at just video, though. Add virtual tours of your rooms and facilities, and provide tablet-optimized photographs showing off your property and the surrounding area. In other words, take advantage of the tablet screen’s size and clarity to show your property off! -5Tweet this Email this
  • 7. 3. Make booking easy Mobile commerce is surging ($163 billion worldwide by 2015 12), and the travel market is certainly no exception: Mobile travel bookings are projected to exceed $8 billion this year13. Smartphone users are ready to buy – right now. Smartphone users aren’t afraid to use their phones to book travel online. Some 16 million U.S. smartphone users made a travel purchase with their device last year, and it’s expected that 28 percent of all online travel bookings will be made by smartphone by 201514. Notably, most smartphone users are making same-day travel purchases – a last-minute flight or room. With that in mind, keep your “book now” button clearly visible on all pages of your optimized site, and make sure the check-out process is as simple and streamlined as possible. Your booking engine should be smartphone optimized because a visitor in a rush won’t have time to enter a great deal of text or mull over a lot of options. Tablet users are ready to spend even more. Tablet visitors spend twice as much per purchase (and are nearly three times more likely to purchase) than smartphone visitors15. It’s also worth noting that both leisure and business travelers are more than twice as likely to book via a mobile site than through a mobile app, but that a bad mobile website is the number one deterrent to mobile booking16. Pro marketing tip Understand your customers “Your mobile site will differ from your desktop site not just because of the size of the device, but because the mobile context reveals a different mindset for your consumers… Define your value proposition by determining what your consumer wants to do with your business in mobile. Benchmark against others in your industry for ideas.” As with your smartphone site, make the process simple and easy. Your “book now” button should be clearly visible on every page, and linked directly to your hotel’s (or your chain’s) mobile booking engine. The booking path – picking - Google Mobile Playbook dates, rooms and options – should be straightforward, with drop-down menus and easily tap-able buttons for selections. And of course, your booking process needs to be safe and secure, including confirmation screens to maintain the purchaser’s confidence in the process. -6Tweet this Email this
  • 8. 4. Take advantage of the platform Smartphones and tablets are incredibly powerful multifunction devices, so it makes sense for your mobile-optimized site to take advantage of those functions as much as possible. Leverage the smartphone’s telephone capabilities. It’s easy to forget that mini-computer in your pocket is a phone, and sometimes, simply making a call is the best way to go. So don’t make your users copy your phone number into the phone app – make sure the phone app launches when a user taps your number! Pro tech tip Don’t build an app when a site will do “Mobile apps lock development and design into specific ecosystems, require significant redundant development to cross platforms, add a vast amount of management complexity… Mobile sites avoid all of these things and allow for a much faster path to execution.” Make use of maps and more. Along the same lines as the phone app, tablet (and smartphone) users shouldn’t have to copy your address into the map app; take advantage of the device’s map capabilities on your “location” - Adobe Insights: Best practices page. You can also take advantage for designing mobile websites of calendar, e-mail and camera app integration where applicable. Many phones also offer integration to social media apps, which brings us to our next tip... -7Tweet this Email this
  • 9. 5. Make your mobile site social-ready Transform your visitors into brand ambassadors through social sharing features. Travelers definitely like to share their vacation plans and activities with their followers: 55 per cent of travelers “like” Facebook pages specific to their vacation, with 70 per cent updating their Facebook status while on vacation17. Smartphone users like to share on-the-go. Look for smartphone users to share that they’re staying with you when they check in, when they’re by the pool or when they’re in the bar. Tablet users like to share from the couch. Tablet users tend to connect with social media from more comfortable locations, which makes them ideal for writing reviews or sharing photos after their trip. Regardless of device, word-of-mouth remains as important as ever in the travel sector, and social media allows that word to travel farther and faster than ever before. Adding Twitter, Facebook and “share-by-email” buttons to your mobile site is an easy way to encourage visitors to share their travel plans and to build digital word-of-mouth for your property. -8Tweet this Email this
  • 10. 6. Display redeemable special offers Everyone loves a good deal – and mobile shoppers are no different. In fact, the number of active mobile coupon users is expected to grow from 2.7 million in 2010 to nearly 35 million by 2014 18. Promoting value-added special offers on smartphones and tablets not only grabs consumer interest and attention, but it also encourages them to book. To appeal to smartphone and tablet users wherever they are in their travel journeys (early research phase to booking to during their stay), ensure you have the offers available that will appeal to them. Even if they’re not ready to book on the spot, they may come back to take advantage of an offer for a spa package or dinner and theater at a local establishment that caught their interest. Feature promotions that add value such as free parking, complimentary breakfast, bonus loyalty points or happy hour specials at your restaurant as well as special offers for tickets to local attractions and upcoming events. Ensure they are easy to redeem your offers by linking directly to your mobile booking engine with the appropriate offer code populated. Draw attention to your offers making them easy to find and click through to from your main navigation. Pro tech tip Mobile is highly local “We use our mobile devices all the time to navigate throughout the physical world: Where’s the closest parking garage? What’s the best breakfast place around here? Where can I post this package for my nephew? If you’ve got local content or content that can be localized, optimize it for mobile.” - MarketingProfs: Mobile Marketing Best Practices Enhance the way your offers are displayed by using large and relevant visuals. -9Tweet this Email this
  • 11. Bringing it all together Mobile optimization isn’t just an option anymore; it’s an absolute necessity. Keep these essentials in mind when developing and deploying your mobile strategy: SMARTPHONE TABLET Manage smaller screen sizes with single-column layouts Take advantage of the larger screens with tabs, buttons and “white space” Offer clear, straightforward booking options Include video and high-resolution photography Leverage device phone capabilities Take full advantage of device capabilities like email and maps Offer value added deals and promotions Add social sharing features - 10 Tweet this Email this
  • 12. One last mobile marketing tip: Measure! Even after you’ve spent your time and resources developing your mobile strategy and building your mobile-optimized site, your job isn’t quite done. Now it’s time to measure what’s happening on your site – after all, if you don’t analyze what’s happening, how will you know if all of your efforts have been successful, and how will you know what and where you need to improve? Take a look at your web traffic and find out how consumers are interacting with the content you’ve offered. Are they watching your videos, and how much time did they spend doing so? Are they sharing your content on social media and clicking through to local attractions? Are they looking at photos of your rooms or facilities? Perhaps most importantly, look at those users who left your site and try and determine why: Was your property simply not what they were looking for; or was your site too difficult to navigate? Were your pictures not high-resolution enough; or too high-resolution and too slow to load? Were you fully booked on the visitor’s preferred dates; or were your booking options confusing? And don’t forget to compare your mobile traffic to your desktop traffic. Doing so will help you determine not only the different types of customers that are using different devices, but also what you’re doing correctly on the desktop and incorrectly on mobile – or vice versa. Analyzing visitor behavior to your mobile site will help determine if your mobile sites are meeting your objectives, and if not, will help guide the steps you need to take to get there. - 11 Tweet this Email this
  • 13. Next steps Are you ready to transform your mobile presence into an optimized online experience for your visitors, but not quite sure where to begin? VFM Leonardo helps hotels like yours develop and deploy optimized, multiplatform web experiences, enabling properties to tell their story in a compelling manner no matter what platform a visitor is using. With powerful visual storytelling features and an easy-to-use web interface, VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure™ Online Merchandising System is an ideal solution for hotels looking to deliver consistent, visually rich, optimized online experiences to travel shoppers. Visit VFM Leonardo online to view a demo or contact us today to learn more about how VBrochure™ can help you reach prospects with smartphone- and tablet-optimized experiences. - 12 Tweet this Email this
  • 14. About VFM Leonardo VFM Leonardo is a technology and online media company for the global hospitality industry. We provide e-marketers at hotel brands, management companies and hotel properties with technology, sales conversion tools and a global travel media network that enables them to better visually merchandise their hotels to millions of in-market travel shoppers monthly. Our core products, the VScape® Digital Asset Management System and VBrochure™ Online Merchandising System, leverage the VNetwork™ - the largest media syndication network in the industry. It includes all major search engines, Global Distribution Systems, online travel agencies, travel research and supplier websites, search portals, review, travel editorial, local directories and major social media and video sharing sites. Taking advantage of VBrochure’s mobile and social media platforms, hotels can ensure that their rich visual presentations reach consumers on their mobile devices and through their social graphs. For more information about VFM Leonardo, visit www.vfmleonardo.com. @VFMLeonardo www.facebook.com/vfmleonardo blog.vfmleonardo.com www.vfmleonardo.com - 13 Tweet this Email this
  • 15. 1. GPMD: 2012 Mobile Internet Usage Statistics (http://www.gpmd.co.uk/blog/2012-mobileinternet-statistics/) 2. GPMD: 2012 Mobile Internet Usage Statistics (http://www.gpmd.co.uk/blog/2012-mobileinternet-statistics/) 3. NewMedia Trendwatch: More than 60% of hotel bookings made on mobile phones were for the same day (http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/news/1085-mobile-travel-bookers-willcontinue-to-trail-mobile-researchers-by-about-12) 4. Expedia Media Solutions: The rise of mobile (http://www.advertising.expedia.com/en-us/ about-ems/press-room/NewsletterPDFs/PhoCusWright-2012.pdf) 5. Tnooz: Nielsen study shows travel usage trends for mobile devices (http://www.tnooz. com/2012/08/09/news/nielsen-study-shows-travel-usage-trends-for-mobile-devices-infogra phic/#UOWS839bq3X9cBFM.99) 6. Travelution: Mobile penetration in travel accelerates, finds Nucleus research (http://www. travolution.co.uk/articles/2013/02/19/6480/mobile-penetration-in-travel-accelerates-findsnucleus-research.html) 7. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (http://www.cisco.com/ en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-520862.html) 8. Internet Retailer: Mobile consumers expect speed greater than many retailers are providing (http://www.internetretailer.com/2012/08/07/mobile-consumers-expect-greater-speed) 9. Streamingmedia.com: The State of mobile video 2013 (http://www.streamingmedia.com/ Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/The-State-of-Mobile-Video-2013-87931.aspx) 10. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (http://www.cisco.com/ en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-520862.html) 11. Think with Google: The 2012 traveler (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/ studies/the-2012-traveler/) 12. Tnooz: Yeah, take note remaining mobile travel naysayers (http://www.tnooz. com/2012/08/01/mobile/yeah-take-note-remaining-mobile-travel-naysayers-infographic/#C1 w3tMlh7YrZ1mXS.99) 13. PhoCusWright research, January 2012 14. NewMedia Trendwatch: More than 60% of hotel bookings made on mobile phones were for the same day (http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/news/1085-mobile-travel-bookers-willcontinue-to-trail-mobile-researchers-by-about-12) 15. Gigaom: Tablets now drive more ecommerce traffic than smartphones (http://gigaom. com/2012/06/29/report-tablets-now-drive-more-ecommerce-traffic-than-smartphones/) 16. Think with Google: The 2012 traveler (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/ studies/the-2012-traveler/) 17. IGM: Online travel statistics 2012 (http://infographicsmania.com/online-travelstatistics-2012/) 18. Expedia Media Solutions: The rise of mobile (http://www.advertising.expedia.com/en-us/ about-ems/press-room/NewsletterPDFs/PhoCusWright-2012.pdf) - 14 Tweet this Email this
  • 16. 19. Think with Google: Our Mobile Planet (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/mobileplanet) 20. O’Rourke Hospitality: Using responsive website design to stay connected with guests (http:// www.orourkehospitality.com/blog/using-responsive-website-design-to-stay-connected/) 21. Think with Google: Our Mobile Planet (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/mobileplanet 22. Online Media Daily: U.S. Tablet Users to Double to 70 million (http://www.mediapost. com/publications/article/176545/us-tablet-users-double-to-70-million-in-2012. html#axzz2N542zpxf) 23. Adobe: How tablets are catalyzing brand website engagement (http://success.adobe.com/ assets/en/downloads/whitepaper/13926.tablets-brand-engagement-v5.pdf) 24. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (http://www.cisco.com/ en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-520862. html) - 15 VFML_GUIDE_MOBILE_0122 Tweet this Email this