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Choice Hotels redesigns mobile site to drive engagement, conversions

September 29, 2011

The new Choice Hotels mobile site

Choice Hotels has launched a completely redesigned version of its mobile site designed to improve customer engagement, drive booking conversions and enhance the experience for on-the-go consumers. 

With more guests using mobile technology for their travel purchases, the company is building its mobile presence and launched a free Android app in August. The new mobile site is based on feedback from customers.

“The new site is cleaner, faster and more effective at giving our customers what they need, where they need it with the least amount of effort,” said Chris Brya, director of mobile and emerging channels for Choice Hotels, Silver Spring, MD.

“I expect that we will improve customer engagement, continue to drive booking conversion and allow for greater on-the-road experiences with our mobile platform with our improved use of maps,” he said.

Choice Hotels International Inc. franchises more than 6,100 hotels in the United States and more than 30 countries. Its brands include Comfort Inn, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion and Econo Lodge.

Users want simplicity
The revamped site for users accessing from a mobile device features new functionality, such as GPS-based search functions, multiple room rates with room descriptions, a photo gallery, one-touch calling, lists of property amenities and features, single-sign-on for rewards accounts and multiple currency display.

“We did a lot of analysis with our customer base to find out why and how they used the mobile Web and what would make the best experience for them,” Mr. Brya said.

Overwhelmingly, mobile customers said they want simplicity.

“They want a clean interface that allows them to find what they need, make a hotel selection and book right away,” Mr. Brya said.

The site was also designed to allow Choice Hotels to scale for the future growth in mobile use that management anticipates.

It is important for hotels to have mobile sites these days to meet the needs of business travelers, many of whom own smartphones, who travel around a lot and often change plans at the last minute.

“Mobile is a medium by which people search for local information and a hotel is nothing if not a local experience,” said Ariela Freed, digital marketing director for Maritz Travel, St. Louis, MO.

“As a hotel, you think about customer service as being one of the most important attributes,” she said. “You really want to think about the experience you are giving the customer even before they walk in the door. Your site should be optimized for that experience.”

Ms. Freed spoke as someone with experience in mobile for the hospitality sector.

Choice Hotels’ first app for the iPhone was launched two years ago and recently reached 1 million downloads. The company reports that the iPhone app generates thousands of same-day and next-day reservations every month and is used by more than 1,500 consumers on a daily basis.

The new Android app provides much of the same functionality as the app for iPhone.

“All of this helps our customer base and extends our brands and distribution,” Mr. Brya said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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