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Mobile Websites vs. Apps: The Final Showdown – Part One

September 30, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As we discussed in our most recent article, “Millennials + Mobile: A Match Made in (Hotelier) Heaven,” mobile is the best booking, marketing, and engagement channel available, to reach the world’s largest generation – Millennials.

So, if your property hasn’t already gone mobile, what are you waiting for?  Perhaps – as is the case with many hoteliers who haven’t – you are wondering whether it is better for you to invest in a mobile website, an app, or both.

Today, I’m here to tell you about the benefits and downfalls of each mobile channel; however, because there is just so much important information to cover on each mobile channel, I’m going to share this info with you in a two-part series. In today’s article, we will talk about the benefits and restrictions offered by mobile websites.

Mobile websites are great because they are easily accessed by anyone in the world with a mobile device and a network connection. You simply open a mobile browser, enter a URL, and experience all the site has to offer. Unlike apps, there is no need to download anything and there are no restrictions on what device you use. Even the least tech savvy consumers know how to access a website. As such, your property will reach more people with a mobile website than with mobile apps, although the customer’s engagement will be different – and have a much different outcome (we’ll examine this further in the next article on apps).

One of the reasons that mobile websites are more popular with the average hotelier is the (perceived) low development cost associated and the shorter turnaround time to get it into the hands of consumers. While the former isn’t always true (in next week’s article about mobile apps, I’ll give you a way to cut your app development costs if you decide its needed for your property/brand), it is often true that mobile websites are quicker to launch, from start-to-finish. In fact, some mobile websites require no extra work on the part of hoteliers because many website developers utilize a responsive design approach that combines the mobile and desktop versions of the website into one. As such, responsive websites are the solution that mosthoteliers choose and, mistakenly, assume it will be sufficient to fulfill their mobile needs.

But is quicker always better? Like with most things in life, the answer is “no!” Here’s why…

To be responsive, a website automatically shifts, shrinks and changes the layout of the desktop site to suit whichever mobile device it is being viewed on. Responsive sites work well when a potential guest is simply browsing; however, when browsing turns to buying, the problems can begin. In most cases, responsive websites only reposition the website’s content to be more easily viewed on a mobile device; they rarely change the booking engine at all, which can hinder the booking process and really frustrate your potential guest. As such, having a responsive website may help to significantly increase your mobile traffic, but it will rarely increase your mobile conversions, as many guests will abandon the purchase before it is completed.

In addition, to be able to make all elements of your website responsive, you may need to limit the design and functionality of your desktop site, which could be a disadvantage to your property or brand’s long-term marketing strategy for desktop users.

So how can you make a mobile website that increases both website traffic and conversions?

The solution might be a new website philosophy called “Adaptive Design”, which is another approach that produces a website optimized for mobile users. This philosophy says that mobile websites should be more purposeful and streamlined than desktop sites, and just repositioning desktop content (as happens in responsive sites) does not provide an optimal mobile experience. Adaptive mobile websites focus on the key functionality and design elements from your desktop site, but provide a more effective experience for mobile users with smaller screen sizes and shorter attention spans. They basically zero-in on the essentials of a great mobile experience and leave out all the bells and whistles that don’t contribute to the experience.

An adaptive strategy also factors the booking engine into its design, making sure that the fast, easy-to-use browsing experience a potential guest has on your mobile website, continues throughout the completion of the booking. As such, adaptive websites may be the BEST mobile website solution because they increase both your website traffic and boost your mobile conversion rate. 

But is a mobile website the best way to reach the Millennial market? Or would an app be more effective?

Check back next week to read about the benefits/restrictions of mobile apps. As well, I will give you my expert recommendation on which mobile channel will be most effective at boosting your property’s bookings with the valuable Millennial market.

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