Mobile phones and tablets are now so ingrained in our lives that we use them for nearly everything: shopping, paying bills, ordering delivery food—and, of course, planning travel details. While desktop bookings decreased by 6 percent last year, mobile booking payments increased 22 percent, and at least 44 percent of consumers now use tablets or smartphones to plan trips.
With this new emphasis on mobile bookings, hotels want to offer potential guests an easy-to-use and attractive interface for planning trips on the go. So, we’ve highlighted, in no particular order, five of the best user interfaces available today.
The award-winning Bookassist Mobile Webapp V2 has all the features guests might need access to in one place—including bookings, hotel photos, maps and directions, contact information and language options.
All of this functionality is couched within an eye-pleasing, uncluttered interface. Navigation is aided by large buttons, and each stage of booking is separated, so that the pages are clear of too many cumbersome options.
A sitemap button also instantly reveals every function available on the app, and next to the sitemap button is a phone icon that will connect you to the hotel directly.
buuteeq’s Internet booking engine is optimized for mobile use, as well. The desktop software is equipped with “cloud DSM” technology, meaning hotels can upload images and other content to appear automatically across all sales channels—including the mobile version of their website. This keeps hotel branding consistent for the customer, which is important in building loyalty and recognition and establishing a space in the market.
When guests visit the mobile site, they will see a simplified vertical menu that makes navigation easier. Hotels can upload photos that create a background image for the app, as well as maps to the property.
buuteeq’s offering also has a different design for its tabs: Each part of the planning process is stacked vertically on top of the next (highlighted in red), so that users can simply tap one to return to the previous step.
eZee Reservation’s mobile booking engine has a clean interface that offers users the necessary options—and nothing more. This streamlined view makes the process of booking rooms as simple as possible.
Main-menu buttons with large illustrative icons make navigating between room and amenity information, maps, photos and reservations user-friendly and intuitive. From the desktop interface, hotels can customize the app to match their website by uploading a gallery of photos, maps to the hotel and descriptions of rooms, amenities and dining options to help guests make a well-informed booking decision.
When booking a room, guests proceed through three steps on three separate pages: first, choosing dates and the number of rooms; then, viewing promotions, maps and reviews; finally, confirming the information with a summary of the booking. This makes the booking process straightforward and transparent for guests.
The most recognizable feature of GuestCentric’s booking engine (optimized for mobile) is its large calendar grid of rates and availabilities, which gives users a cohesive view of a hotel’s inventory. As a call-to-action, the booking engine also places a large “Book Now!” button in several places throughout the process.
The view of the booking engine on a tablet computer is even more holistic, as it features the same calendar grid with pricing for each day, as well as a list of promotions available during the time of the guest’s stay. While the mobile app spreads the booking process across several pages, GuestCentric’s tablet view features every aspect of booking a room on a single page, creating a comprehensive experience for guests.
hotelRSV sets its mobile Internet booking engine apart with branding techniques: A shock of pink lines each page’s header and highlights active tabs, matching its Web-based version.
The hotelRSV website says its mobile app is designed “to make your customers book in less than a minute.” A couple of attributes allow that to happen: Steps in the travel-planning process are separated by tabs so that each screen is streamlined to the task at hand; a simple tap takes users from the booking page to maps and directions to additional information about the hotel. And users can log in through Facebook, to avoid spending extra time entering personal information through the smartphone keyboard.
ResNexus differentiates its mobile booking engine with real-time inventory that helps prevent scheduling conflicts. When a guest is choosing rooms and dates, the hotel staff can see exactly which parameters are being chosen, so that room inventory is updated even before a booking is completed.
On smartphones, guests can select arrival and departure dates, as well as the number of nights and guests, using radial buttons at the top of the screen (highlighted in red). Then they can scroll through the available rooms that match their desired settings.
On a tablet computer, the booking information maintains a similar format and lines the screen’s left column (highlighted in red), with applicable promotions directly underneath. Available rooms appear on the right side.
Several hotel management systems offer mobile booking engines, but only a select handful have developed a UI that streamlines the booking process in a particularly attractive way.