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Best Western focuses on social media, reviews with mobile site revampBy
Best Western has relaunched its mobile site to include new navigation tools and social media elements that are aimed at smoothing the booking process.
In addition to a new mobile site, Best Western has also refreshed its desktop site and Facebook booking application. The site automatically redirects to the mobile version at http://www.bestwestern.com/.
“The comprehensive redesign of Best Western’s consumer facing sites enhances the user experience by streamlining the booking process and updating the look and feel of our sites,” said Tiffany Tchida, director of ecommerce at Best Western International, Phoenix.
“We realized early on that tackling all three sites at once would be a tremendous undertaking, but the simultaneous effort was needed to deliver the improvements our customers deserve,” she said. “In the end, the approach yielded synergies we had not anticipated.”
The new Best Western mobile site includes cleaner navigation that helps carry a user from the brand’s desktop site to mobile.
Both the new mobile and Web site pull in ratings from TripAdvisor to let users see what others are saying about a hotel. Additionally, consumers can “Like” specific hotel pages on the site. Social media and mobile go hand-in-hand, and by incorporating the two, it helps spread the word about Best Western to a user’s friends and family.
Best Western is also using its partnership with TripIt to make it simpler for consumers to track their itineraries.
The new “Find a hotel near me” feature uses a device’s built-in GPS to find nearby hotels quickly.
For Best Western’s Reward members, the mobile experience has been updated to include new features that allow users to check their points and review their previous stays.
Consumers can still access other features such as click-to-call and hotel photos.
The booking process has been slimmed down to include three steps, all of which appear on one page.
As consumers use their smartphones and tablets to do more than simply browse, hotel brands are seeing that the medium is particularly effective at capturing last-minute sales.
The key though is to develop mobile sites that are not completely stripped down and give users a specific value for booking via their handsets.
For instance, earlier this year, the Best Western executive revealed that as of Nov. 2011, the company has seen a 145 percent year-over-year growth in revenue coming from mobile devices (see story).
In addition to a mobile site, Best Western also has apps available for Android, iPad and iPhone devices. The company has near-term plans to redevelop its apps, according to Ms. Tchida.
“As with the industry as a whole, we are seeing our customers become more and more engaged with mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets,” Ms. Tchida said.
“As their browsing and shopping behavior shifts, we plan to be there for them and provide them with the service they’ve come to expect from Best Western,” she said.
“We have no doubt that mobile will continue to grow in relevance to our organization. Our planned investments reflect this and support the belief that to remain the top choice for our loyal customers, we need to be where they are and be able to service them as they have grown used to.”
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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