Smartphone VS Tablet: Prep Your Hotel For a Mobile Future

| April 29, 2013

In 2011, mobile was responsible for $2.6 billion in travel bookings. By 2013, the number is projected to be $8 billion, according to a PhoCusWright study released in January 2012.
 
It is becoming clear that valued customers are now shopping and booking on their favorite mobile devices. Enabling mobile users to perform almost every function necessary to make reservations, view images, compare pricing and leverage geo-location services among other things. Optimizing for mobile has become increasingly important, however, what often remains misunderstood when developing a mobile strategy is the difference between optimizing web performance for smartphones versus tablets.
 
A recent mobile user survey by Keynote Competitive Research looked at mobile user habits and discovered that tablet users are much more likely to purchase something (62% versus 47%) or book travel (41% versus 29%) on their devices than smartphone users.
 
What do companies miss out on by not optimizing for mobile?
Sixteen percent of mobile users will not return or wait for a website to load if it takes too long and 6% will go to a competitor’s website (Keynote Competitive Research, 2012). That lost audience is lost revenue stream.
 
Understanding that the tablet and smartphone experience can be vastly different is important to the way you may want to market to your target audience. Consider that the tablet’s web interface is useful in creating an engaging, discovery-based shopping experience as opposed to the smaller screened smartphone with less functionality and engagement.
 
According to one prediction, by 2015, the tablet market is expected to grow to more than 300 million and, in January, Adobe reported that tablet users spend more than 50% more for each transaction at an online retail site compared to smartphone users.
 
These numbers alone should convince businesses in the hospitality industry that mobile website development and optimization is two-fold effort for mobile devices, showing that the smartphone and the tablet experience are not one in the same and both are important.
 
Do you treat the tablet as a “desktop” (similar screen size) or a “smartphone” (similar mobility)?
There are several things to consider when deciding to optimize for a tablet as opposed to a smartphone. Screen size is one of the more important and obvious considerations. The larger screen means more things are visible and the user needs bigger fields to type in or icons to click.
 
The tablet user is also more likely using a mobile website or app while connected to a Wi-Fi connection (rather than a cellular network). Using a Wi-Fi connection is an important consideration for both mobile devices -- some users will be on faster connections (through Wi-Fi) while others will be on slower wireless carrier networks. It is critical that the type and size of content that should be delivered for the best mobile user experience. On smartphones, size and content download may be more important factors for users who are accessing content over the cellular network, while tablets have more screen real estate, so content layout is more important.
 
Time and delivery is very important for mobile guests and the capability to manage reservations through mobile devices provides increased mobility to the modern day traveler, however, a tablet site that’s too heavy will be all but unusable for users on the go.
 
Best practices
Employing technologies such as HTML5 for web development will allow you to take advantage of different capabilities in addition to incorporating responsive design to make sure users get the best experience no matter which device they use. HTML5 is also widely supported by multiple operating systems, saving you time and money in the development cycle.
 
Next steps
The most challenging part of optimizing for both smartphones and tablets is in the execution. You need to ensure that the mobile user experience is good. Once your mobile users have poor experience over any mobile device, it is difficult to regain their loyalty on that particular platform. Regular testing and monitoring of your mobile site can ensure that customers are getting the best experience. Having potential customers engaged at the right time at the right place and your mobile site can be the difference between a fair-weather and a lifelong customer.
 

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