Guest Post: Travel must be more responsive

By Olga Travlos, managing director of Xanthos

Browse through the majority of travel websites and what instantly strikes you are the images. Whether they’re photographs of hotels, stunning beaches or beautiful countryside, the pictures are usually vibrant, high definition and colourful.

As sites evolve, expect to see a lot of textures, great photography and real-life elements. The development of augmented reality and new technology like Google’s project Tango will create an even better experience for the pre-buying holidaymaker.

And that’s exactly how is should be. After all, it’s your product, you want to showcase it and images are a large part of what influences a consumer’s travel decision making.

So, why are the majority of travel companies failing to offer the same experience across multiple devices?

When someone plans to travel, they usually research thoroughly and will often use multiple devices to do so. Websites are likely to be viewed on multiple devices by just one customer and having a responsive website is key to retaining customer interest.

It has been well documented that ecommerce sales are adversely affected by poorly-optimised mobile websites. Not only is mobile optimisation important for sales, but customer opinion of a brand increases when they have a decent mobile experience.

So, when we read that 352 million tablets are expected to be sold worldwide in 2015, (up from just 19 million in 2010 – source Statista) and, on a global scale, mobile payment transactions are expected to hit $490 billion by 2015, we can see the enormity of the situation.

It’s clear that consumer demand dictates that travel websites need to be optimised for small screens. It’s also clear that travel sites need to move towards responsive web design.

So, as the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website automatically switches to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences.

This eliminates the need for different design and development phases for each new gadget on the market. It also enables sites to be easily optimised and gives you a more holistic understanding of your customer through the application of personalised content across desktop, tablet, and smartphone. It’s the way forward for all ecommerce sites, especially in the travel industry.

A recent survey by econsultancy concluded that not one of the main travel brands appears to have moved to responsive design. The charge is, not surprisingly, being lead by local tourist boards and boutique hotels, and they’re moving fast.

It’s now time for the rest of the travel industry to take note and be more responsive to consumer demands.

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