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Mobile sophistication lags in hotel industry: L2

Sixty-two percent of luxury hotel brands are lacking either a mobile site or mobile application, according to L2’s latest report.

Mobile has rapidly evolved from a differentiating point to a necessity for hotel brands, especially following Google’s decision to favor mobile-friendly sites in its search algorithms. L2 found that luxury hotel brands are making strides but still have a long way to go to meet consumer expectations on the mobile front.

“The major mobile trend we see emerging in hotels is that brands are looking to go beyond booking to offer a suite of in-destination services such as mobile check-in/check-out, keyless room entry, restaurant and spa reservations, etc,” said Sam Lee, study analyst at L2, New York.

L2?s “Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels” attempts to quantify the digital competence of 50 Luxury Hotel brands operating globally.

The newcomer
Mobile is occupying a bigger portion of the consumer journey each year, each month.

According to WYSE, 25 percent of online travel sales will take place on mobile devices this year. Thirty percent of time spent on travel-related Web sites occurs through mobile.

These figures will only grow and when digital eventually eclipses in-person travel sales, mobile, not desktop, will be the primary engine.

After a long slumber, hotel brands are waking up to the urgency of mobile.

SPG for Google Glass — Starwood has been a leader in mobile

Eighty-four percent of brands offer some type of mobile-friendly access to consumers, whether a mobile site or an app.

Fairmont is one of the brands ahead of the curve with both an app and a mobile site, both of which have search, room-booking and activity reservation features.

While enabling preferences by having options is obviously better, getting the ball rolling on mobile is fundamental.

Functionality and interactivity of mobile options in the travel industry flags other industries and is far behind the user experience on desktop.

Four Seasons Budapest app
Many properties have an app distinct from the brand portfolio’s, sometimes creating confusion

Nearly two-thirds of index brands do not offer user reviews on mobile and six percent have mobile videos, according to L2’s research.

On desktop, these figures are almost reverse.

L2 points out that a feature that is essentially designed for mobile — dynamic directions — is available on 10 percent of mobile sites, compared to 45 percent of desktop sites.

Endless growth
Travel industry sales are expected to climb to $671 billion by 2018, and sales booked through mobile are expected to grow approximately 800 percent during this period, according to L2’s report.

A primary driver of this boom will be Chinese consumers traveling abroad. To net as much of this growth as possible, luxury brands will have to ensure that mobile and digital touchpoints are localized and meet escalating consumer expectations throughout the entire travel experience (see story).

“There’s still room for them to invest in room service via their mobile site or mobile app,” said Laura Black, marketing and communications manager at L2, New York. “Allowing cleaning, clothing, for example, can really improve the overall customer experience.

“If [an app] is well-connected, and if their staff is well-educated on their site, they can leverage that and gain loyal consumers,” she said.

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York