What are mobile bookings?

Mobile bookings are bookings travellers make on hotel websites or booking sites via their mobile phone. With smartphones owned by the equivalent of 85% of the global population, guests are now starting to book on mobile, rather than desktop.

This is a positive trend for accommodation providers who have optimised their website for the mobile experience, but for those who haven’t it should be a big concern.

In this blog, we’ll explore the latest findings around mobile bookings and how your hotel can ensure you aren’t missing out on any bookings or revenue.

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Why is mobile booking becoming more popular?

A simple answer to this question may be that the global population is growing, and the amount of smartphones is growing with it. If more people have a smartphone, it’s natural that more mobile bookings will be being made.

However, some more substantial reasons why mobile booking is becoming more popular include:

  • People manage their whole lives on mobile: Whether it’s a calendar, social media, entertainment, work emails, or shopping lists, people can access everything they need to manage their day-to-day via their smartphone. It only makes sense that they would include travel planning in this.
  • It’s convenient: With commuting and waiting in lines being such a big part of society, it’s very convenient to perform travel research and booking to pass the time in a productive manner.
  • It’s easy: Websites optimised for mobile make it quick and simple for travellers to choose, book, and pay for their travel.
  • It’s lucrative: Guests booking on mobile will often find exclusive or last-minute deals, allowing them to save money.
  • Today’s young travellers were raised with technology: Millennials and Gen Z are the generations travelling most avidly today, and they have grown up with a familiarity with technology, meaning mobile is their go-to method for purchasing products and services.

For these key reasons and more, the tide is turning when it comes to mobile vs desktop and hoteliers need to respond to the shift.

Current mobile trends and why they’re important

There are countless mobile trends and statistics that support a move towards optimising your website design and functionality. Not least of which is that research shows a 110% increase in conversion rates when travel sites are optimised for mobile.

So this tells us that following the trends and acting on them is going to result in more bookings and revenue for your business.

Here are 10 key insights on mobile booking trends:

  1. 60% of Google searches are now performed on mobile.
  2. The global mobile booking market was forecast to grow by more than 12% between 2019-2029.
  3. More than half of US travel bookings now involve mobile alone or multiple devices.
  4. This is made more impactful by the fact that Americans pick up their phone 144 times per day on average.
  5. Approximately a third of travellers will use a specific mobile app to research an upcoming trip.
  6. 85% also book specific activities on their mobile device.
  7. 25% of the UK have abandoned their desktop completely when it comes to browsing travel content online.
  8. Mobile is where people prefer to book last-minute bookings.
  9. Those preferring mobile payments are expected to reach 4.8 billion by 2025.
  10. The travel app market generated $556 billion in revenue in 2023, a 53.4% increase on the previous year.

All of this paints a pretty clear picture – mobile usage is on the rise, travel related behaviour via mobile is on the rise, mobile payments are on the rise. It’s time for accommodation providers to start prioritising a mobile experience.

What are some online mobile booking sites?

Online mobile bookings sites can be any booking sites that are optimised for mobile devices. 

All of the major online booking channels such as Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb are optimised for mobile and provide a smooth experience for travellers using mobile to book their trips.

Accommodation websites can also be online mobile bookings sites if they are similarly optimised. If you take the initiative and ensure your website works seamlessly on mobile, you’ll not only be more popular with travellers but you’ll gain an edge over the competition.

What does mobile-only price mean when booking a hotel?

A mobile-only price is a particular rate or promotion that is only available to travellers who are using a mobile device. Those on a desktop or laptop won’t see your offer.

The mobile-only deals are usually discounts or packages designed to attract the attention of highly motivated and engaged travellers who are looking for last-minute accommodations, and can be a good way for your hotel to maximise occupancy and revenue.

Mobile-only pricing is a good way to steer into the curve of increasing mobile usage. You have the potential of high traffic and an attractive deal could be the clincher for a traveller on the verge of making an impulse purchase.

A good way to implement mobile-only prices at your hotel is via your connected online travel agency channels, such as Booking.com. You can also do it on your own website, via an online booking engine.

How to optimise your website for mobile

Thankfully, there are some surefire ways to optimise your property’s website for mobile users. We’ll list some of the most important aspects and then offer some easy ways to implement them.

Mobile bookings optimisation step 1: Quick and easy navigation

The biggest challenge to booking on a mobile device is navigation, thanks to the limited screen width. This is why most travellers use multiple devices to research and reserve their rooms.

Travellers might use a mobile to do their research, then move to a desktop to make the actual payment. This creates the risk of the traveller getting distracted or looking at other sites, or simply changing their mind.

So do everything you can to optimise the mobile navigation experience for your guests. Text should fit within the screen, buttons should be easily visible and clickable, and everything should load quickly.

Your mobile friendly website must also have a “book now” button that allows users to immediately make a reservation from their mobile device.

Mobile booking website

Mobile bookings optimisation step 2: High-quality photos

Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words, making your photos the strongest asset you can use to convince guests to stay with you.

To stand out on your guests’ mobiles, you need to fill your website with large, high quality, full-width photos of your property.

Navigating photos is also important. It should be an easy slide or tap to browse your photos.

We love how this hotelier allows travellers to select which photos they would like to see.

mobile website gallery

Mobile bookings optimisation step 3: Hassle-free reservation process

Keep your forms and processes as simple as possible for people on mobile. It should be clear and easy to select dates, choose preferences, view availability, and select rooms.

Names, contact information, arrival and departure dates and payment information is all that you need to reserve a room for your guests. Instead of bogging your form down with extra questions and additional form fields, keep it simple and watch your mobile bookings rise.

Mobile bookings optimisation step 4: Online payment options

If your mobile website is easy enough to use, the next step to getting more direct online reservations lies in reducing friction when it comes to taking payments.

Shopping cart abandonment is all too common, so remove the questions you don’t need. The process must be quick and convenient.

You should consider accepting digital wallets, such as Google Pay or Apple Pay, to make it easier than ever for people to securely pay for their rooms on their mobile devices.

Mobile bookings optimisation step 5: Maps integration

For travellers on the run, the ability to navigate to and from your property is important.

Ensure there is a map functionality on your mobile website, so that they can easily browse through your local area, looking up transport options, meeting locations, hotels and restaurants.

image of maps integration on a mobile website

Mobile bookings optimisation step 6: Fast site speed

Mobile users, in particular, are partial to quick-loading sites. If your site does not load up on their phone within three seconds, they will likely abandon your page in search of another option.

Verify that your visual elements and multimedia components are not bogging down your site speed. When your website is quicker, you will attract more guests and see an improvement in engagement.

Mobile bookings optimisation step 7: User-friendly design

Google is scoring you on elements like time spent on your site and site speed. In terms of how you show your information, keep it short and sweet, with plenty of white space in between.

Use large, easy-to-read text, clear images, keep layouts simple, and use big buttons that can easily be clicked with the thumb. 

The easiest way to achieve this is to invest in technology that can quickly set up an optimised website which integrates seamlessly with a booking engine and front desk system.

For small accommodation providers, an all-in-one solution like Little Hotelier is usually the best option.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).