Travel brands optimising for mobile but not tablets, research finds

Travellers are increasingly booking holidays and trips abroad on their mobiles and tablets. However, while travel brands have reacted by optimising their websites for mobile, they are still guilty of overlooking tablet users, a new report finds.

Digital agency Sigma tested the user experience and accessibility of 10 of the top travel websites: Skyscanner, AirBnb, LateRooms, Booking.com, LastMinute, OnTheBeach, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Co-operative Travel, and Expedia.

Eight out of the 10 were found to be providing a mobile-friendly user experience, incorporating responsive or adaptive design, while nine out of the ten have their own dedicated mobile app.

In further good news, all ten of the brands were found to have taken steps to make their site either responsive or adaptive, i.e. it will modify itself depending on the device it is opened on.

While it's good to hear, it's what travellers have come to expect, with more than half saying they now prefer mobile to desktop for travel booking, as per Opera Mediaworks research from earlier in the year.

Commenting on the shift in booking behaviour, Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma, said: "The statistics show that holidaymakers are booking a lot of their trips online across different devices, and our research proves that the top travel websites have taken this on board."

However, she agrees that ensuring websites perform equally well regardless of the device it's being viewed on "should be a given".

When it comes to viewing on a tablet, though, Sigma's researching suggested travellers are left wanting. Only half of the websites accessed were tablet-friendly, suggesting that travel brands might have assumed that as long as they've optimised for mobile, it is mission accomplished.

Stephenson added: "Although it was encouraging to discover that the majority of these businesses had built their own dedicated mobile app – taking it one step further to ensure they are available to consumers on multiple platforms – they need to remember that some consumers will be accessing them on tablet via a browser, and avoid skipping this step."

If you are looking for help in creating a bookable mobile website, or optimising your current website for tablet devices, get in touch with us here at Digital Trip