Thursday, September 20, 2012

Disrupting The Accommodation Industry

There's no doubt that consumer hysteria over the pending iPhone5 release will accelerate the disruption of the travel industry.

The consumer decision making process is heavily influenced by what they view online and this is increasingly via mobile devices.

While there is a lot of mobile browsing of travel media occurring, the next step of actually booking on a mobile device has a relatively low occurrence in New Zealand - but this is growing rapidly.  In this country, I suspect the majority of mobile channel reservations are occurring amongst only a few major players, such as Wotif and that have invested in native apps and mobile web.

Accommodation providers seem to be woefully behind in offering their potential mobile browsing customers a mobilised website that can be easily viewed with relevant content including the ability to navigate using the intuitive features of mobile phones when making a reservation.

Those accommodation providers that do make the effort in creating a mobile website will often make the mistake of purchasing an off-the-shelf solution that simply scrapes content off their main desktop website and randomly assembles the elements in a mobile format. This does little to attract and convert a potential mobile customer. Another mistake that some accommodation providers make is linking their mobile website to a non-mobilised reservation landing page.

For accommodation providers, the mobile channel will quickly become just as important as business attracted via desktop websites. There are very cost-effective solutions available for small businesses to purchase a mobilised website solution. And providers such as Siteminder, STAAH, Bookit, Strait PMS have (or soon will) a solution for a mobilised booking widgets that can be easily integrated into a mobile website.

The good news for small operators is that it is possible to move quicker than larger accommodation businesses in order to take advantage of the rapid change occurring in customer behavior.

Meanwhile...most accommodation providers are in ignorant bliss as to how their online marketing is being viewed by their potential guests on mobile devices - their immediate concern appears to be those pesky clock radios that will soon have outdated iPhone docks:

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