Is Your Hotel Ready For Millennials – and Other Device-Savvy Travelers?
Stereotypes are dangerous. It might be tempting to laugh at the idea of device-addicted Millennials, walking around with their eyes and hands glued to smartphones, hardly noticing the world around them. But if one of those Millennials is planning a vacation or booking a business trip, the impression she gets from looking up your hotel on her smartphone is going to be crucial.
It's a fact that mobile devices have radically changed retailing and are reshaping the hotel guest experience. Hoteliers are working hard to find ways to capitalize on people's love of their mobile devices – but the industry must also realize that a mobile experience is now the primary point of inspiration for millions of travelers.
Millennials Shop Differently
Our e-book, Millennials De-Mystified: Who They Are, How They Shop, Why They Book, examines Millennials' shopping and booking preferences in a world that's rapidly engaging mobile devices as a primary means of learning about destinations and comparison-shopping for the best possible deal.
We found that 55 percent of Millennials had shopped for hotels on a mobile phone during the past year, while 21 percent shopped for hotels on a tablet. When we analyzed shopping and booking data from thousands of properties using the SynXis Booking Engine, we found that Millennials spend 6 percent less time on each hotel website page than older shoppers, while Millennial shoppers' bounce rates (number of visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page) are higher than travelers over age 35.
Millennials are consuming lots of information from a variety of sources when they're making a hotel booking decision. Although 76 percent told us they regularly or always shop for hotels using an OTA, 55 percent told us they regularly or always visit a hotel or brand webite while shopping. Millennial travelers' reliance on hotel websites for information gives you an important opportunity to capture more direct bookings by providing the right information and the right experience at the moment of inspiration.
And these opportunities make it more important than ever for hoteliers to track booking engine traffic and analyze the source of looks and books both by traffic type and device. If your hotel's website is seeing lower conversion rates for tablet and mobile phone users, it could be time to boost your digital marketing efforts and consider whether your booking engine is optimized for mobile shoppers.
The Mobile-First World
While Millennials are the fastest-growing travel demographic, with over $200 billion in projected spending power, hoteliers also must avoid another dangerous stereotype: the idea that only younger travelers are device-savvy.
Millennials may be the pacesetters, but their parents and grandparents are also using mobile devices to look for inspiration and shop for deals on hotels and amenities. And around the globe, millions of people rely on mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the Internet.
According to Pew Research, 10 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. have no other form of high-speed Internet access at home – more than 16 million people, according to the most recent smartphone market penetration estimates. Worldwide, the International Telecommunications Union reports that 69 percent of the world's population is now covered by 3G mobile networks. In many parts of the world, smartphones remain people's primary means of going online.
The world is moving toward a mobile-first paradigm. Millions of travelers will get their first, and perhaps only, impression of your hotel on their mobile phone screen. And while our survey showed that 85 percent of Millennials today still rely on desktop and laptop computers to book hotel stays, the ease of buying products and booking services online through Amazon, Uber and others is shifting customer expectations.
In the new mobile-first world, hotels must have an intelligent booking engine that recognizes the device a shopper is using and presents the website and booking engine dynamically – including translating language and currency to meet shoppers' expectations. A hotel website that doesn't load quickly, or that doesn't give users the information they want, will be less likely to convert looks into books and shoppers into guests. The shopping habits we're seeing among Millennial travelers are a window into the future of the hospitality industry as a whole.
For more insights on how Millennials are traveling, and what hoteliers should do to engage this generation of connected customers, click here to download your copy of Millennials De-Mystified.
And if you know your hotel needs to improve its ability to measure your customers' online activity by device, track the performance of promotions or create a device-responsive shopping and booking experience, contact a member of the Sabre team to learn how we can help you increase revenue by converting more shoppers into loyal guests.