By Lydia Heywood
As mobile becomes the first point of contact for travellers, we see changing behaviours in how travellers shop for trips. Over the years, the role of travel agents has decreased and most people now do holiday research by themselves.
The amount of time that people spend researching their holiday has increased overall, but these are concentrated into short bursts with time lags in between. Gone are the days where you would sit at a computer screen searching for three hours on end before making a decision. Now you spend 30 minutes on your phone reading reviews of hotels while on the train, 5 minutes every 15 minutes on your tablet flicking through during the adverts on telly, and a solid 10 minutes before bed looking at your accounts figuring out how you can even afford the holiday you want (and frantically searching for any discount codes!)
Looking at the four categories above we can see how not having an optimised site for different devices can tarnish the chance of a potential customer parting with their money.
Let’s start with restaurants. I don’t know about you, but I love food, and the thought of going on holiday and gambling on whether the meal I would have is authentic or over-priced-tourist-rubbish is important to me. This is where websites such as TripAdvisor are great: you can find the top restaurants in a particular area easily. The problem here is that TripAdvisor does not always give exact locations or menus and this is where the restaurant misses out on vital footfall. The next step you would take is to Google the restaurant and you find that you land on a page that is not optimised. You then spend a few minutes enlarging the page just to check it is the right restaurant, and it is almost impossible to find the address of the place, let alone finding the correct link to read the menu to check the dishes and prices. By now you have lost interest and are already onto searching for the second best restaurant on the list.
This is very similar for Activities. If you cannot easily view the price for yourself, your husband, your mum, dad, daughter, son, brother, sister and 10 other nieces and nephews to go on a boat ride along the Dalmatian coast, then you won’t bother booking. Let’s face it, most people do not bring laptops on holiday, and dialling charges are still pretty high. If it is not clear and easy to view on your mobile or tablet, you will not bother enquiring.
Researching hotels can be a little different. Over 2/3 of people in the UK still prefer to make larger purchases on a desktop, but that does not mean the hotel should not invest in a mobile site. In this example, one of the most important features is photos. Customers will not book if they cannot see clear pictures of the place they are going to spend their 2 week holiday. This falls in line with upselling – if there is not a clear picture of the additional space or better view you will get with upgrading your room, then customers will not spend the additional money.
Reviews in general are arguably the most important form of research when looking at holidays. Users often have personal motivations that convince them not to complete a purchase. Sometimes it is a matter of cost, and sometimes it is a matter of lack of faith in the product. An easy way to address this is to feature customer reviews and testimonials clearly on the site. Social proof directly impacts conversions. According to an article by eConsultancy, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates, as well as an average 18% uplift in sales. If reviews are not visible on the mobile or tablet site, or difficult to read, this is not encouraging for customers and will leave them uncertain as whether to spend their money.
The fact of the matter is customers now spend more time on smaller devices. Ultimately, if a customer cannot view pictures of a hotel they might want to stay in on the 30 minutes on the train to work, then they won’t even bother going on the website on the desktop once they arrive.
With new, quicker and easier ways to pay on mobile and tablet devices, people are spending larger sums of money. This is a great time for hotels and activity websites to make sure they are multi-channel and their reviews can be read on each device. Otherwise, customers will just drop off.
A great example of this is what Usablenet has done for The Ritz Carlton, and it can be found here https://mobile.ritzcarlton.com
The experience as a guest in the hotel is completely different from when the user researches hotels. It is easy to browse the site, view rooms, make a reservation and view Rewards information.
The fact of the matter is that travellers are spending more time on mobile at all stages of their travel journey. Ultimately, if a customer cannot view relevant information in a timely manner on mobile, brands will lose out on the opportunity to capture revenue on mobile.