Earlier this week I needed to book some flights for an upcoming trip to Boston. Problem is, our computer is at the repair shop being coerced to display something other than the blue screen of death. Not a big deal, we’ve got some mobile devices I can use to search flight options and purchase tickets. Without a second thought, I reflexively reached for the iPad instead of my smartphone to handle the task although I’ve got some online travel agencies’ apps on my phone. I didn’t think much of it until I came across an interesting article on Tnooz suggesting that when it comes to online travel booking, all mobile is not considered equal.
Mobile travel booking consumer behavior
I’m what the travel industry calls a “multi-device travel booker”, and it turns out I’m not alone when it comes to consumer mobile behavior. Tnooz found that travelers much prefer using tablets to research travel and book flights versus smartphones since tablets function as ersatz laptops and desktops. Smartphones are a last-minute day of travel go-to for accessing quick information, not scrolling through image-heavy sites with lots of forms. It makes sense: while I’d never leave home without my smartphone, especially when traveling, it’s something I turn to for fast information while I’m on the go – tracking flights, checking weather and airport delays, retrieving hotel or car rental reservation numbers, rebooking flights or hotels during travel disruptions and the like.
Tips to make your travel booking site more user-friendly
Tnooz has excellent advice for the travel industry players behind the smartphone and tablet sites – tailor the experience to the technology. Make smartphone sites efficiently spare and transactional. Travelers on the road need relevant information quickly, don’t make them scroll through many screens or enter data into lots of forms just to finally access reservation numbers while holding up the line at the airline kiosk, car rental counter or hotel check-in desk. Tablet sites can be more information-rich; travelers in the planning and booking stage want lots of details on trip upgrades, add-ons, flight seat maps, hotel pictures, destination maps and other visuals that are tedious to view on a smaller screen. Just be sure to make the tablet site user-friendly as its still a touchscreen device – think larger buttons and swipe-enabled navigation.
Other “multi-device travel bookers” out there, what’s your experience? Do you follow the same online travel behavior as described by Tnooz, or do you prefer one mobile device for all travel-related tasks?