One of the first questions we're always asked by new clients is: What's more important in travel, a mobile app or a responsive website?
The honest is that they both carry equal importance, but the very fact we've been asked the question usually indicates that the budget won't stretch to both.
It goes without saying that our advice from there largely depends on the client in question. If their goal is to attract new customers, then a responsive website would take precedence. However, if maintaining existing customers is the primary objective, we'd likely lean towards suggesting they develop a mobile app.
Let's look at the stats
As we highlighted in a post earlier in the month, smartphones are now more popular than laptops in terms of how people browse the internet. Smartphones don't require the user to power-up their device every time they want to surf the Web; laptops on the other hand do. This convenience is one of a number of reasons internet users are now favouring the smaller device.
Little surprise, then, that 57% of users say they won't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Customers have become accustomed to a seamless online experience – so much so that if a brand's mobile site gets in the way of that, it will irk them to the point of refusing to recommend the business in question.
In that vein, 83% of mobile users say that a seamless brand experience across all devices is very important. Failure to create a fluid experience across all channels risks not only failing to attract new customers, but upsetting existing ones.
What do they tell us?
Based on those figures, it's difficult to imagine that the desktop PC will ever be able to claw back the ground on mobile and become the dominant device once again. Therefore, your mobile strategy should reflect this to ensure that your customers can as easily view your website on their mobile as they could their desktop.
Of course, most travel businesses not only want to attract new customers but keep their existing ones happy and onside. As such, invariably our advice for those clients asking the website vs app question would be to first make sure they have a website that is optimised for mobile. After all, the big news last year was that Google updated its search algorithms to favour websites that work well on mobile devices.
However, for those that believe they are already in a position where their website is appropriately responsive, mobile apps might be the answer we give. For apps now account for 89% of mobile media time. It's estimated that users spend an average of 1.8 hours on their smartphones every day, with mobile apps accounting for the majority of that time. That's a very exciting stat for those that believe they are in a position to develop a native app.