Travel & Hospitality

Mobile Web: A Forgotten Channel in Travel & Hospitality

Nick Zettler
VP of Business Development
Tyler Convey
Product Marketing Manager

The competition for attention on mobile is intense. Today, there are over 1.8 million unique mobile apps available for download on the App Store - that’s a huge amount of noise when over 70% of smartphone users have fewer than 30 apps installed on their device. The result? Each and every one of these apps is competing for the valuable real estate on your home screen.

So, what does that mean for those in the travel and hospitality space? Are all of your customers going to download your app and allocate some of that scarce real estate to your brand? It’s a nice thought, but we wouldn’t bet on it. Sure, a segment of customers - your most loyal and tech-savvy ones - will download and regularly engage with your brand’s app, but what about the rest? Are they really going to download an app just to book a spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway?

The reality is that over 55% of web traffic occurs on a mobile device - and there’s no reason to think that trend wouldn’t apply to travel and hospitality. As a matter of fact, this largely untapped traffic is an incredibly valuable source of potential revenue. The problem is that most mobile web experiences leave a lot to be desired. By and large, they are just “mobile optimized” versions of sites (and workflows) that were designed with a user’s desktop in mind. The result is largely characterized by information overload, clunky UI, high bounce rates, and low conversion.

While we’re not here to tell you that mobile web is a more important channel than native mobile, we do think it’s worth recognizing the large, untapped audience of potential customers looking to engage with your brand through mobile web. By taking the time to treat mobile web as its own unique channel, your brand can more effectively tap into this potential revenue stream - one that will continue to grow significantly over the next decade as more people enter the consumer class and plug into the global economy directly from their smartphone.

We’ve outlined 6 high-level recommendations you can adopt today to start driving better conversions and get the most out of your mobile web experience.

Embrace design best practices and leverage mobile-specific design elements

Nothing ends a mobile session faster than a clunky UI element like a poorly executed calendar widget. By taking advantage of mobile-specific design elements, brands can deliver optimized experiences that are on par with what users have come to expect from mobile.

Brands should also look to implement industry best practices for native design and leverage the familiar patterns established by leading UX guidelines such as the Human Interface Guidelines, Material, and Nielsen Norman Group. These are great resources for learning more about standards and design best practices and are well worth a look.

Reduce cognitive load

Each piece of information on a screen requires a user’s attention and has the potential to distract from, or minimize, the information that is most relevant to a specific workflow. In order to drive conversion and simplify the booking process, brands should seek to reduce the cognitive load placed on users by removing rarely used or superfluous information from key screens.

Deliver personalization wherever possible

There’s a ton of data out there that can be leveraged to deliver personalized digital experiences for users on mobile web. Using a Digital Experience Platform like Adobe Experience Manager, brands can create segments based on previous purchasing behavior or known preferences which can then drive targeting recommendations. These same data points can also be used to drive follow-on activities like cart abandonment emails and other re-engagement techniques.

Even anonymous users can be catered to with personalized touches based on actions taken prior in the session or on other channels altogether. For example, if an anonymous user came to a site through an email campaign for ‘family-friendly vacations’, the site can dynamically source content and suggestions that are tailored to that specific buyer persona.

Up your accessibility game

Bring your mobile web experience to the widest possible range of users by maximizing accessibility. Brands can improve their mobile web experience by following WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards and improving things like VoiceOver functionality, the intuitive labeling of screen elements, and the identification of screen elements in the correct hierarchical order.

Build experiences with performance in mind

While it’s tempting to replicate the desktop experience on mobile, doing so can result in slow load times and poor performance for users that don’t have access to cutting-edge 5G networks. That’s especially important right now, as 5G only accounts for roughly 15% of all mobile connections in North America. That’s why tools like LightHouse - an open-source tool for improving the quality of web pages - use 3G speeds to determine performance baselines.

In the context of the travel and hospitality industry, performance goes hand-in-hand with driving better business outcomes. A recent study by Google found that a 0.1-second improvement in mobile site speed increases conversion rates by 10.1% for travel sites. That’s a huge impact in terms of your conversion funnel and bottom line.

Don’t just set it and forget it

It’s simply not good enough to dust off the cobwebs and refresh your mobile site every year or two. That type of approach to a major consumer channel is a big driver of the outdated workflows and poor user experiences that are common across the industry. When we work with our clients, we recommend that they embrace an agile, optimization-focused approach to product strategy and development, and that philosophy applies just as much to optimizing the mobile web experience as it does when you’re building a fully-native app.

So, what are some good ways to tell if your mobile website could use another look? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is a large percentage of your total web traffic coming from mobile?
  • Are your bounce rates for mobile web significantly higher than desktop?
  • Are conversion rates low for mobile web compared to other channels?
  • What do page load times look like for mobile web?

If you’re taking a hard look at optimizing your mobile web experience and want to work with a partner that’s been there and done that, we’d love to talk. Feel free to reach out to the WillowTree team and start the conversation!

Nick Zettler
VP of Business Development
Tyler Convey
Product Marketing Manager

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