Designing a “frictionless” travel experience should be a primary objective when building your mobile platform because that is exactly what consumers want. But what exactly does frictionless mean, and what does it entail?
A better mobile experience translates to more value creation for the consumer and, ultimately, more mobile bookings. Given that travel research and reservations via cellular devices continue to climb in the aggregate percentages, you cannot neglect this aspect of your web budget, even if your website is less than three years old.
A website that is more than three years old is one that is dull, unresponsive to current mobile platforms and not keeping pace with consumer expectations.
Additionally, smartphone travel behavior is rapidly fragmenting. There are those who research via mobile during lunch breaks then save the credit card information for a telephone call to the reservation center or the next time they are on their laptop. Then there are those who complete everything through their cellular phones — something that is especially popular for last-minute bookings, which are themselves increasing in frequency. Any way you slice it, what’s critical is that hotels take control of their mobile presence, and this can only happen with the right design.
The next generation of mobile has arrived, and it must be seamless and hassle-free or customers will look elsewhere. You have two seconds to make an impression on a consumer — no exceptions.
On the surface, frictionless means no hiccups — fast load times, preferably less than two seconds so cognitive drift never sets in. It also means no popup windows, no intrusive advertisements and minimal screen pinching.
To dive further into what the next gen has in store and what consumers will come to expect in the near future, I drafted Anthony Zebrowski, CEO and co-founder of GuestDriven, to help fill in a few blanks. Anthony emphasizes that, like the physical travel experience, any mobile endeavor must be visually appealing and help to eliminate worries.
Aiding the frictionless charge, Anthony offered a few other tips based upon his company’s past experience in this area. First, it’s smart to have your mobile product act as a landing page — a terse introductory page that’s fast-loading and builds anticipation. From there, lots of seamless graphics can help please the eyes and break apart walls of text for easier digestion. Your mobile travel experience must also be localized — that is, responsive to the language and nationality of the traveler. Next, the ability to directly offer perks and packages in a clear and concise manner is always a plus.
What Anthony stressed is the Instagram approach to mobile rather than that of Facebook. The latter is a mature, robust app that does everything — personal updates, events, newsfeeds, comments, photos, videos, likes and so on. As such, many users find the interface to be confusing and time-consuming.
Contrarily, Instagram follows more closely to the motto of less is more. It does photos, and it does that singular function very well. This simple yet powerful approach is emulated by many rapidly growing startups. To this end, one good way to help streamline the mobile appearance is to use drawer menus.
The tourism and hospitality industry has a few unique challenges to overcome in terms of mobile. Responsive hotel or bureau websites must follow the full lifecycle of the customer, offering a multitude of information in an uncluttered, interactive layout.
To dispel safety concerns, mobile websites and apps should not aim to intrinsically process credit-card information, but instead harness the power of the central reservation system via a secure link. Another goal nowadays is to eliminate long wait lines at the check-in counter to free up front-desk clerks for other guest-service needs. Aside from the coding challenges here, a mobile site must be designed in a way so that guests know checking in or out via one’s smartphone is actually an option.