Top Travel Websites on Vacation When it Comes to Mobile

| June 27, 2014

The Search Agency, a leading global online marketing firm and the largest independent U.S. search marketing agency, today released findings from the latest edition of its quarterly report, “The Mobile Experience Scorecard – Travel”, which found that the travel industry is still lagging in providing users with the most advanced mobile experiences. Only eight of the 100 sites analyzed use Responsive Web Design (RWD; Google’s recommended format) and only two-thirds (67) serve mobile dedicated sites, with a remaining 25 sites that serve the desktop version of their sites to mobile users. The report was compiled by The Search Agency’s team of mobile experts, who analyzed which top 100 travel accommodation and destination sites[1] best aligned with established mobile marketing best practices.  

“As we launch into the summer travel season, consumers may become frustrated while doing research on the best travel spots, accommodations and fares,” said Delia Perez, SVP account delivery and strategy at The Search Agency. “We found that most sites are slow to load and do not offer the best experiences possible for consumers, however, there are some shining examples. Choice Hotels, in particular, has adopted many of the best practices that are required to provide a seamless mobile customer experience, including search functionality, account sign-in and click to call.”

For the Mobile Experience Scorecard – Travel, The Search Agency calculated a total score out of a possible five points – a score of zero being the lowest and a score of five being the highest possible – for each of the mobile sites. Mobile best practices that were evaluated include those set by Google as well as other current functionality and features such as search, click-to-call, account sign-in, social media share buttons, an app download option, and responsive web design.
Results from the study include:
 
Choice Hotels International-owned sites, which include Choice Hotel International, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, ComfortSuites.com, Econo Lodge and Sleep Inn, received the highest scores in The Mobile Experience Scorecard – Travel report.
 
Varying Page Load Times: Although Google recommends an average mobile site download of one second, the 100 most visited travel sites required an average of 2.64 seconds to load.
Only eight out of 100 sites utilize responsive design; 67 use dedicated mobile sites and the remaining 25 serve the desktop version of their sites to mobile users.
Load times for the different site formats also varied: on average, dedicated mobile sites load significantly faster (1.82 seconds) than both RWD (4.46 seconds) and desktop sites (4.26).
Travel aggregator sites required the most time to load (3.45), while sites for hotels and casinos were the quickest to load (1.86 seconds).
 
Key Features: Of the key features evaluated, 86 of the 100 sites feature search functionality, 40 feature click-to-call, 67 offer account sign-in, 57 feature social media buttons or links, and 42 link to an app download.
 
Aging Adventurers: Visitors to travel sites tended to skew older, with 60% being over the age of 45. Demographics include:
38% of the visitors are over 55 years old.
22% are 45-54
21% are 35-44
14% are 25-34
5% are 18-24

Among the different travel verticals, cruise lines have the greatest proportion of visitors over 55 years old, at 54%.
 
Ranking Travel Verticals: The top scoring three verticals were hotels/casinos, cruise lines and rentals/timeshares. The lowest scoring verticals were travel aggregators and destinations. 
 
To see the full rankings including methodology or to download a copy of the report, please visit: http://www.thesearchagency.com/classroom/research/.

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