Forget the app (for now) and focus on making your website mobile friendly

With mobile now the preferred medium for visitors interacting with travel websites or booking hotels, it’s no longer a question of “mobile vs. desktop”.

In the midst of the mobile takeover, instead we see marketers and industry experts debate whether hotels, tour operators and attractions should develop their own apps, or focus on mobile responsive website.

While apps definitely have their place, we don’t think it should be a question of one versus the other. For smaller travel brands and independents who are still building and nurturing an online presence, your first priority is making sure your website is mobile-friendly. In fact, any brand within the hospitality industry that does not yet have a mobile responsive website must make that their first order of business.

Here’s why …

First, let’s look at some stats

Last year, marketing expert and consultant Frederic Gonzalo attended EyeForTravel’s annual Social Media and Mobile Strategies in Travel summit in San Francisco, gaining some important insight into the world of travel apps and mobile development.

Presentations from Google, Facebook, LeanPlum, TripAdvisor and more revealed the following:

  • 65% of mobile users in the US had never downloaded a single app
  • 80% of time spent on mobile apps is done on the top five most popular mobile apps, and Facebook owns two of these
  • 90% of all mobile apps downloaded don’t even get opened in the first 30 days
  • It’s estimated that 76% of mobile apps don’t get used again after 24 hours
  • Looking at information sources used by US travellers when planning a trip, hotel websites topped the list at 40%, with OTAs close behind at 38%

“The ‘mobile app vs mobile web’ was perhaps the most interesting debate,” says Gonzalo. “Must you really have a mobile app in order to be pertinent and cater to on-the-go travellers? No, obviously.

“A mobile app is a great tool, but you can simply read any of the [stats presented] to quickly realise that it’s a heavily saturated environment where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out and stay relevant.

“What you do need, however, is a strategy to provide a quality experience for travellers on the mobile web, where consumers don’t always want to have to download an app in order to engage with the brand,” he explains.

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