From Travel Research to Purchase  —  Tips for Increasing Conversion on a Smartphone

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3Sixty Digital
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As digital travel specialists we conduct a lot of user studies, testing websites on various devices.

Research from Google shows that forty-eight percent of people in the U.S. are comfortable researching, booking, and planning an entire trip to a new travel destination using only a mobile device.

As digital travel specialists we conduct a lot of user studies, testing websites on various devices. A common theme is that customers start researching on a mobile or tablet, and then move to a desktop as their intent moves from the research phase to purchase. This can be because the decision is shared and people want greater screen space to show travelling partners the choices, but also because the process of booking can be complicated. Quite often we find travel businesses haven’t optimised this journey for mobile — however, this is missing a trick.

‘Friction on a mobile site when completing a booking can lead to travellers trying another site.’*

Have you ever counted how many interactions it takes to find, select and book something on a smartphone? A good benchmark is Hotel tonight — the user journey to book a hotel room on mobile requires only 3 taps and a swipe which takes just 8 seconds.

Hotel Tonight App

Compare this with Priceline 52 taps and 102 seconds and it’s easy to see why Sam Shank, CEO of Hotel Tonight says, “This is a competitive advantage.”**

When thinking about designing for devices it always pays to think in terms of speed. How quickly does the site or app respond? How quick and intuitive is it to book? A study by Ericsson ConsumerLab, Neurons Inc 2015 shows that the level of stress caused by mobile delays sits somewhere between watching a horror movie and solving a math problem. And If you need any more convincing, consider this:

Over one-third of smartphone users in each market has a negative view of the brand if the mobile experience is slow.*

Focussing on these speed issues will always lead to a better user experience, and as a result improved loyalty and conversions. But it’s not as simple as taking a desktop experience and making it responsive, reducing it down to mobile — which is where many businesses go wrong. The process needs to adapt and requires a deeper level of understanding and integration with back-end systems.

We regularly test interactions like calendar date ranges, button positions, device orientation and other options for mobile. Then design and optimise in an iterative cycle of design, test and learn.

The changes are incremental, but consider how much money is poured into search, brand and other top of marketing funnel activities to get potential customers to your website. It quickly adds up and makes the investment in making your website less of a leaky bucket one that will pay off in spades.


* Google/Phocuswright Travel Study 2017

** Luke Wroblewski — Mobile Planet