As mobile starts to matter even more in travel and hospitality, it is important that the user experience comes up to speed, literally.
NB This is an analysis by David Hsieh, VP Marketing at Instart Logic.
Orbitz recently reported that one-third of all of its bookings are done on mobile devices. Accor Hotels says that it expects 40 percent of direct bookings to be made through mobile devices by 2018.
But going mobile isn’t just a matter of moving your traditional website to a mobile platform.
Sites built for access on broadband often slow down on mobile. They can take four seconds or more – and sometimes as long as a minute - to load on a mobile device. That’s excruciating in our “make it snappy” world, where customers get antsy if they have to wait longer than one second.
You have to make the mobile experience as easy, fast and visually luscious as it is on a PC.
How do you do that? You can boost performance by compressing images or stripping complexity from your website. But that usually gives your customers a washed-out and watered down experience: the brilliantly colored wildlife and sunsets that customers see on your Costa Rica page won’t look as crisp on a smartphone.
Another option is to build and support different versions of your website: one for PCs, one for mobile devices. This improves performance and quality on each device, but it’s costly and time-consuming to build and maintain the different sites.
Responsive website design: One website that optimizes viewing on every device
The increasingly popular choice is having a responsive website. You design it once and it works on all devices. Text, images, graphics and video automatically adjust to the characteristics and capabilities of whatever device is at the receiving end.
But here’s the rub: While a responsive website is great for optimizing content for different devices, performance on mobile still tends to suffer. One reason is that your website’s responsiveness slows down as it tries to optimize for a vast array of devices.
Another reason is that wireless networks have more latency than broadband networks. It can take 5 to 10 times as long for the first byte in a data package to get to a mobile device than one connected on broadband.
And even with the most optimally designed responsive website, you can still run into problems because of your content delivery network (CDN). Traditionally, CDNs focus on improving the core of the internet, not the “last mile” between the edge of the ISP network and the wireless device, where bottlenecks increasingly occur.
Nor are most CDNs built to handle huge websites with tons of images and interactivity. CDNs came of age when static images, content and minimal interactivity were the norm.
You can keep throwing hardware at the problem, as most CDNs do. But there’s a better way: software-defined application delivery.
This is intelligent software that understands the content from your website and optimizes it on its way to each device. It delivers radically faster performance across wireless networks and on mobile devices.
Boutique hotel company sees faster site load times and bookings jump when it switches to a responsive website and software-defined application delivery
Beautiful images are table stakes for Commune Hotels and Resorts, an international boutique hotel management company. Commune typically uses seven or eight 1500x1000 high-def images and an Instagram feed of at least six images on each property’s home page. But it was getting an earful of of complaints from consumers about how slowly these loaded on mobile devices.
The company decided to redesign all of the websites under its brand into responsive sites and to shop for acceleration solutions. It chose a software-defined application delivery approach to replace its existing CDN. Right away, site load times improved by 90 percent. Conversion rates jumped 25 percent. Commune also saw a double-digit increase in all site-visitor engagement metrics. Yes, boosting website performance can make a dramatic difference to your business metrics.
Start with a responsive website, then super-charge application delivery
Responsive website design is one of the best, most cost-effective solutions for giving consumers the performance and quality they expect when they use mobile devices to research and book with travel and hospitality sites. But however well built your responsive website is, you may still end up sacrificing performance or quality.
So have a conversation with your CDN provider or application delivery service about how to optimize your site for mobile. Explore new technologies such as software-defined application delivery that let you get the most out of your responsive website.
This is an analysis by David Hsieh, VP Marketing at Instart Logic. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.
NB World image by Shutterstock