What Hotels Can Learn From Google Mobile Booking Experience
Google makes no secret of its focus on mobile users. At the beginning of 2018 it rolled out mobile-first indexing and with it an entire ethos of mobile-first prioritization to reflect the fast-changing preferences of its user base. By comparison, online travel has always been at the tail-end of mobile optimization: a relatively high-value product coupled with the prevalence of legacy systems and attitudes has typically meant hotel websites in particular have skewed heavily towards prioritizing the desktop experience. Indeed, Google’s VP of Product Management for Travel Richard Holden himself admits that Google’s travel offering hasn’t yet fully taken up the ‘mobile-first’ mantra: “travel has been a little slower… many people are more comfortable [booking] on the larger screen of the desktop.”
The multi-session, multi-device nature of travel booking has seen Google develop different features for different stages of the booking process. Richard Holden again: “We see users come to Google very early in the funnel… and sometimes very late in the funnel. They touch Google throughout their travel planning process, and we think we can do a better job at helping the user pick up that research where they left off at whatever time they come back to Google.”
Rather than shoehorn a mobile-first attitude onto a product that doesn’t respond to it, Google has worked to optimize their travel platform for a multi-device shopping process. In today’s post, we’re looking at a representative example of a mobile-desktop divergence in Google’s travel product: the Room Booking module.
‘Select a room’ vs ‘Similar hotels nearby’
When users run a hotel search on Google from a mobile device, there’s the option (if the hotel or related OTAs are participating) to expand the Google Hotel Ad search result and see images of available rooms and their rates under a ‘Select a room’ header. Currently this feature appears to be exclusive to mobile. For a thorough overview, Mirai published a great rundown of the Room Booking Module when it first appeared a few months ago.