5 Best Practices for Mobile Websites

Total digital travel sales in the United States will hit $198.15 billion this year, according to eMarketer, with more than half — 56 percent, or $111.96 billion — coming from mobile devices. But transactional growth in mobile is only part of the shift in the travel marketplace. Increasingly, consumers see their mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — as an extension of their overall travel experience, whether it’s preparing for their trip and creating activity agendas, looking around for on-site activities or area restaurants, or finding ways to include their social network in everything they’re doing.

As a result, hotel marketers shouldn’t view mobile and desktop in silos, but rather as a consistent consumer experience across channels, from the dream stage of travel planning all the way through post-purchase activity. Here are five best practices for your mobile website — excerpted from Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape, HSMAI’s new study guide for the CHDM certification:

1. Think about interface and screen size. Since most smartphones and tablets are touch-screen devices, the user’s fingertip will be the primary input device when navigating your site. Clearly marked, reasonably large buttons are generally far better than tiny hotspots, clickable images, or embedded text links. In addition, minimize the amount of typing and data entry required.

2. Add eye-pleasing visuals. Since 89 percent of leisure travelers (and 93 percent of business travelers) use online video in their travel planning, the value of adding video to your mobile site is clear. Options to consider include everything from promotional videos of your property to videos of events and things to do around town. Don’t stop at video though. Add virtual tours of your rooms and facilities, and provide tablet-optimized photographs showing off your property and the surrounding area.

3. Don’t skimp on speed. While rich video and imagery will work just fine on mobile devices, you must property optimize it, because the mobile experience requires speed. In a recent survey of U.S. smartphone users, 64 percent said they wanted a site to load within four seconds, with 16 percent of respondents saying they would abandon a site completely and never return if it didn’t load properly.

4. Take advantage of the platform. Leverage the smartphone’s telephone capabilities — which are easy to forget in the rush to optimize the touchscreen experience. Don’t make your users copy and paste your phone number — they should be able to call directly from your app just by tapping your number. Make use of maps and more. And you can also take advantage of calendar, email, and camera-app integration where applicable.

5. Make your mobile side social-ready. Transform your visitors into brand ambassadors through social sharing features. Travelers like to share their vacation plans and activities with their followers. Make sure you’re encouraging them to share that they’re staying with you when they check in, when they’re by the pool, or when they’re in the bar. And don’t make them work hard to do it!

Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape is HSMAI’s official study guide for the Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) certification. Learn more — and purchase a copy — here.

Categories: Marketing, Digital
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