TheSearchAgency has singled out the best and some of the worst travel brands via a major study into their prowess on mobile devices.
The online marketing looked at the top 100 travel destination and accommodation sites ranked by the number of monthly visits (Hitwise) they received on desktop in May of 2014.
It ranked the sites according to their mobile experience, a score out of five based on seven factors visible on the home screen of a mobile website:
- Page load time
- Site format (design of the site, responsive ability)
- Search function (presence on visible part of screen)
- Sign in (presence on visible part of screen)
- Social media functionality
- Mobile app presence (links displayed on the top or bottom of the screen)
The top ten performers (full list here
- Choice Hotels
- Comfort Inn
- Quality Inn
- Econo Lodge
- Sleep Inn
- Best Western
Non-hotel branded websites in the list include:
Some other findings and tips detailed in the report:
Responsive design vs dedicated design vs desktop site
Among the 100 travel sites, 8% use RWD (responsive web design), 67% have dedicated mobile sites, and the remaining 25% serve only a desktop version of the site.
Dedicated mobile sites often score higher than either of the other site formats – the top eight scoring sites all serve dedicated mobile sites.
Page load time by site design format
Dedicated mobile sites load significantly faster than RWD sites and desktop sites.
But, Google recommends that sites use RWD as it tends to load in under one second. Choosing between RWD and dedicated mobile site involves plenty of consideration depending on the individual goals of a website.
Comparison of key parameters
86% of the sites studied have a search function.
Only 40% have a "click-to-call" button. The study says this feature is an important customer service element that can lead to conversions or provide the opportunity for upsells.
67% of the sites have account sign-in links, 57% have links to their social media pages, and only 42% display an app that users can download for a more personalized brand experience.
User segment by age
The study segmented the users of the 100 brands mobile websites by their age.
Interestingly, the share of visits to the sites increased by age.
Visitors over 55 years of age represented a 38% (maximum share) of the total visits to the 100 travel sites. 22% of visitors are in the age range of 45 to 54, 21% of visitors are 35-44, 14% are 25-34, and the remaining 5% of visitors are 18-24.
Users above 45 years of age make up a majority of 60%.
Mobile experience score - by vertical
Below chart shows five verticals (each have at least 7 websites) derived from the 100 websites taken into account for the study.
Among these verticals, Hotels/Casinos leads with an average mobile experience score of 3.3, and Destination related websites have the least mobile experience score of 2.3.
Page load time - by vertical
Again, Hotels/Casinos vertical have the fastest average page load time of 1.86 seconds. By comparing above chart with below, it can be inferred that the page load time directly impacts the user experience.
User age - by vertical
Below chart shows the user age range for each of the verticals. Three distinct observation from the chart are,
1) Except for 'Destination', all other verticals have the highest users in the age range of 55+
2) Over half (54%) of the users who visit cruise line mobile sites are above 55 years in age. This is more than triple than the nearest age group of 45-54 (17%).
3) For 'Destinations', the largest user group is in the age range of 35-44
Comparison of key parameters - by vertical
Below chart compares key parameters such as - search, click to call, sign in, social media, mobile apps - across all five verticals.
There are a number of observations that can be made from this chart,
1) All CruiseLine sites have search, click to call and social media button functionality in its home page
2) Display of click to call and mobile app features are missing (with respect to other features) in a lot of sites across the verticals
3) Among all verticals, 'Destination' related websites have the least adoption of all five parameters
The top 100 US accommodation and destination sites data was provided by Experian Hitwise.
Each of the seven factors taken into account to arrive at the final score has a "weight factor" attached to it:
- Page load time (32%), site format (25%), search function (15%), click-to-call (8.5%), sign in (7%), social media buttons (6.5%), and mobile app presence (6%).
Each website was opened twice (to arrive at an average score) on an iPhone 5c model.
NB: The entire report can be downloaded here.
NB2: Mobile travel experience image via Shutterstock.