A new report confirms the rapid and relentless growth of mobile browsing and mobile booking in the travel industry. This can have good or bad implications for independent vacation rental owners, depending on whether they are prepared.
Back in May of this year, we alerted you to the idea that mobile booking is the coming thing. Vacation rental owners, we said, needed to become ‘mobile-optimized’ as soon as possible. This would be ‘a necessity in the future’ for mobile booking.
As if to confirm our view, an Expedia Media Solutions report says that consumers in the UK are using mobile devices more than ever before to engage with digital travel content. We are talking here of mobile laptop PCs, tablets and smartphones.
This study finds that ‘nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 48 million people in the UK engaging with digital content across smartphones, tablets and PCs are interacting with travel-related content. This compares with two-thirds (63 percent) in the US.’
Time to take action?
The increasing reliance on the worldwide web for access to guests and potential guests means that vacation rental owners who are not mobile-ready need to take action. To continue to be players in the worldwide web and the advantages it can offer, owners will need websites that are mobile-friendly and present properly to users as clear, navigable pages. Not only on desktop PC screens, but across all mobile devices.
And, in case you missed it, there’s another good reason: Google has made vacation rental owners take notice. Earlier this year, they announced if owners wished to figure in their online searches, they would need to be demonstrably mobile-friendly.
‘Starting April 21,’ they stated, ‘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.’
If Google are saying it is significant, we had better believe it! Just for a moment, consider how many of your bookings come from online sources and the pivotal position Google holds in deciding your visibility on the web. This could be critical if you are an independent vacation rental owner without a mobile-friendly website for those potential mobile bookings.
Your website may no longer appear in Google searches
So, if your website was not mobile-optimized before 21 April this year, it may not even appear in front of potential guests as Google will now overlook it.
If your website is not ‘optimized’, important information may not appear on the mobile screen of the browsing user. Also, any graphic design effects could be compromised and the site will be difficult to navigate. In this event, it’s likely that the impatient browser will give up and go look at a more accessible, mobile-friendly website for their potential mobile booking.
This growth of mobile booking is not restricted to the UK. It’s a worldwide phenomenon and though this report shows the UK to be leading the charge, huge markets such as the US are not far behind.
‘Silver lining’ means increased bookings
The growth of mobile booking has a ’silver lining’ for those mobile-prepared independent vacation rental owners who will ultimately benefit from it. The rapid uptake of mobile devices in our market is opening up lots of potential avenues for those with an optimized, mobile-friendly website. For those that have them, there are significant and growing opportunities for increased bookings.
As a vacation rental property owner himself, and as someone involved in the development of systems to help independent vacation rental owners run their properties, our founder Barry Sacks saw this situation developing some time ago. He took steps to make his own site future-proof, as well as offering the solution to Homes and Rooms subscribers via its Website Builder feature.
If you do not have a mobile-optimized site yet there are several options. You could find a consultant to upgrade your existing website so that you can take part in the mobile booking phenomenon. This can be a costly exercise as it requires considerable technical expertise. Or, you can sign up with a software as a service provider (SaaS).
Or, you can register with Homes and Rooms as a subscriber and you’ll get a 14-day free trial with an optimized, mobile-friendly website from day one. Plus all the tools you will need to help you enjoy the benefits from this burgeoning mobile booking market.
Take a look for yourself
If you want to know how a website presents on a smartphone or tablet, visit your own current website via one of these devices. Then try a few competitors to see how they shape up. You should easily spot those that have optimization for mobile booking – and those that do not.