Mobile – Easily the most important trend this year – it is also the one that offers the biggest opportunity. Here’s the skinny – mobile internet use in the U.S. is set to overtake wired use by 2015 – and this shift is happening even faster for social media. To quote Facebook in last September’s quarterly SEC filing: “[We] anticipate that the rate of growth in mobile usage will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future.” What does this portend for the hospitality industry? Think it’s an accident that Google lists restaurants and bars on their smartphone browser and not on their desktop version? It is now estimated that 45% of all restaurant website traffic is mobile generated – and that number is not only growing, but also skews upward for a younger demographic with a relatively large discretionary income.
This means that if your site is not mobile ready at least three out of ten visitors will find it useless – and that’s not even the worst part. If someone is browsing from their smartphone and cannot access your site they are going to go to the next option – which is guaranteed to be a review site, such as Yelp or Zagat. Besides the fact that there is no surety that the info those sites provide will be correct or up to date, you are also subject to the whims of your restaurant’s latest reviewer. Not an attractive scenario – but one that is, happily, easy to remedy.
There are many online services that can easily create a mobile version of your site. With the addition of a few lines of code to your existing website it will then be automatically loaded when your site is displayed on a small screen device. These services range in price from free (ad driven) to a monthly fee structure that can be scaled to a single store or restaurant group. Consult with your IT provider to determine which service is best for you – it may even be included in your web hosting plan. Minimally the mobile page should include: Hours of operation, contact info, map link, menu link, click-to-call button, Open Table link and social connectivity.
A small investment in time and money can leap-frog you ahead of the competition – especially the restaurant sites with the extensive Flash-based slideshow of Venice and the Tony Bennett soundtrack that takes ten minutes to load.