Mobile technology is growing fast. Recent research* has shown that the UK is leading the way in mobile internet consumption, with UK consumers downloading more data on their mobiles than any other major nation.
A sixth of all website traffic is now on a mobile, tablet or other connected device, and smartphone penetration is predicted to reach 75% this year. Regular travellers are even more likely to access information or book ‘on the go', which means that travel companies need to be at the forefront of mobile development and recognise the importance of optimisation if they are to not only survive, but thrive.
Today, smartphones are ubiquitous and mobile should be at the heart of the customer experience, offering companies the chance to engage with their consumer wherever they may be. It is not enough to offer the smartphone customer a pared down version of the desktop website; you need to deliver the same unique and engaging experience on all platforms.
At Travelzoo, we're finding that our apps and mobile site are allowing us to reach a broader and more active audience. We have adapted to think ‘mobile first' across all aspects of our business. Motivate your team to adapt to the change in consumer behaviour and focus them on the idea of customer service across all aspects of the business, from the ‘face-to-face' to the mobile experience.
You may think this is easier said than done, but the key to mobile optimisation is actually in its simplicity. Think about what customers are looking for when they access your website from their smartphone - they want speed, high-quality information and access to the great-quality products that they receive on your desktop website.
On top of that, travellers expect that information to be geo-targeted so that they can find the best restaurants, hotels, attractions and so on in the immediate vicinity, as well as socially enabled to connect with friends, family and other travellers.
Consider also how you can translate your content to maximise the experience of a traveller ‘on the go'. You have less space on a smartphone screen, so you need to deliver just the most important pieces of information to the mobile customer. Simple and clear copy will generate better performance, while compressed images will help to maintain a speedy browsing experience.
Remember that it's a relatively new industry and you're unlikely to perfect it immediately. Listen to the feedback from your audience and adapt your layout and mobile product decisions accordingly. Do your own research as well, making sure to check how your content looks from various smartphones and both iPhone and Android browsers, and use your analytics to find out what mobile users are doing.
Mobile optimisation has grown our business, with 33% of all traffic to our website being mobile and 1.5 million people having downloaded our apps. Our subscribers can now purchase deals in the palm of their hand, take advantage of relevant nearby deals via GPS and discover places that they had never heard of before. Just think what it could do for your business.
* Ofcom International Communications Report, December 2012
About the Author
Dave Ambrose is the senior director of mobile and social at Travelzoo