Mobile can make or break customers' overall digital experience

Some of the UK's top travel brands offer a better digital customer experience on mobile apps and websites than via good, old-fashioned desktop sites. However, too many brands still need to bring their mobile experience up to par with traditional sites.

Getting the multichannel experience right is key to the future success of travel brands, says eDigitalResearch. Its latest report measured the customer experience across 21 of the UK's leading travel brands.

The multichannel eTravel Benchmark shows how the mobile experience offered by top travel brands, including Booking.com, Marriott and IHG, is now better than the experience offered through traditional websites.

Multichannel leader Booking.com, for instance, picked up an almost 3% increase in its overall multichannel score after making significant improvements to its mobile site.

In fact, Booking.com's mobile search was rated better than its desktop counterpart - which suggests features like geo-location functionality are rated extremely highly by mobile users who are in a rush to get information.

Sites that are able to mirror their desktop counterparts with optimised imagery, messages and functionality thanks to a responsive design – such as benchmark newcomers Thomson and First Choice – will be rated higher, the report reveals.

Claiming the second and third spots respectively in the overall multichannel league table were First Choice and Thomson. For desktop, Thomson came top with a score of 87%, leading the way in this channel thanks to the site's ease of navigation and visual stimulus.

The results show that users now expect the same seamless experience across all channels.

It's been particularly critical for all brands to offer a mobile optimised experience since Google's algorithm update put the cat among the pigeons earlier this year, says eDigitalResearch. However, for the multichannel experience to beat the competition, optimised sites must offer the same functionality and usability as their desktop site.

Derek Eccleston, global operating officer at eDigitalResearch, commented: "Customers now expect an excellent customer experience across all brand touch points and many brands' mobile sites and apps are now on par with traditional sites.

"However, our results reveal that too often this is not the case suggesting that some brands are still getting to grips with optimising the digital travel experience for mobile users."

He added: "With a growing number of us researching and booking our holidays online, along with travel brands increasingly competing against one another on price and destination, a good user experience is often the only way to differentiate a brand from their nearest rival – the digital customer experience really is key to the future success of travel brands big and small".