Choice Hotels, Motel 6 and Marriott Rank Highest in Mobile Web Performance Index

By Abelardo Gonzalez, Web Performance Evangelist, Keynote | April 08, 2014

The Keynote Lodging Performance Index has always looked at desktop web performance. But now we are introducing monitoring of mobile web performance – how sites perform on smartphone. Look out for a new mobile index from Keynote in the coming months.
 
This month we wanted to give you a sneak peek.
 
The rise of the mobile site is clear – sales are eclipsing desktops and the level of sophisticated apps is on the rise. But designing for mobile devices has some obvious considerations – the size of the screen and the fact that the network connection is over a 3G or 4G network, or now the LTE network. This changes the game when weighing content and performance issues. Too much content and you can seriously drag performance down – fast.
 
One observation is that the lodging leaders of the desktop index come in near the middle of the mobile index. Being good in the desktop category does not translate to mobile performance.
 
Topping the mobile index are Choice Hotels and Comfort Inn – and when we look closer, they are from the same company (Choice Hotels). They run off separate urls but are implemented the same. These top players follow all the mobile-optimized best practices – they deliver a fast page load by sticking to a small site size including the number of objects. Some tweaks in March to reduce the number of elements helped shave off .5 seconds. These are the items that directly impact latency speeds.
 
Motel 6 and Marriott come in second and third respectively on the mobile side.
 
An issue many brand name web site owners are facing is the prioritization of building across three screens – desktop, tablets and smartphone devices. To be sure, it takes extra resources. Some are turning to Responsive Design, a one design fits all approach, which simplifies development but doesn’t always deliver the optimum performance for each device. Another approach has been to simply serve the desktop site to the tablet. This can work, if the desktop site is kept lean to accommodate the tablet’s 3G/4G network connection.
 
Optimizing CDNs therefore takes on a critical level of importance on mobile – again, it simply doesn’t take much to slow mobile connections down.
 
What we see with a couple of the Lodging sites is something we don’t see often – the desktop site is delivered to the smartphone. One hotel chain serves 1.5 Mbytes of data and another, a staggering 5Mbytes. This is what we would call choking the network and definitely not a best practice.
 
Today we see brand name sites across multiple industries delivering smartphone sites and this no longer being a “nice to have.” It’s a necessity. But for lodging and travel companies, where by definition many of its prospects and customers are on the road, mobile-first is especially critical. Accessing these lodging sites via a mobile device might well be the first choice for many.
 
We’re seeing a tipping point in web performance as the world shifts to become a mobile-first world. As this shift continues, major lodging sites will have to embrace the trade-offs required in delivering rich content without compromising performance on smartphone devices.
 
We’ll take a closer look next month at these numbers and report on who is leading in the smartphone experience.
 

 
Note:
Anyone can also sign up for a free weekly email delivery of the Index. Use it to track how your company’s performance is doing against the competition, or just to follow what some of the major names are setting as performance standards. Keynote runs a large number of US and global Indexes, across a range of industries and government, which many organizations use as the benchmark to achieve their own optimum Web performance.
 

 
 

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