How did you book your last vacation flight and/or accommodation? The answer must be online reservations through your desktop or mobile.
My partner and I decided to visit Istanbul after seeing enticing photos of an Instagram food blogger who stopped in Istanbul last year. I looked for flights with reasonable prices in September. I remember buying the tickets online while lying back on our sofa. It was quite straightforward. Then, I searched for attractions and sightseeing spots on my desktop as I wanted to pin the locations on the map on a larger screen. In the end, we used the itinerary on the go in Istanbul via our phones. Thanks to the self-check-in option of the serviced apartment we booked, we could enter the property late at night using the instructions sent to our emails via our smartphone.
Nowadays, we are more dependent on our phones. According to Google, “Researching hotels and airfares is as common as shopping for clothing on a mobile device.” Laurens van den Oever brings statistics that show a third of millennials use their smartphones for travel-related purposes. Millennials and other generations of travellers are constantly becoming more dependent on their smartphones for travelling. Vacation rental providers should be informed about these global trends and adjust their direct booking websites for the new expectations of travellers.
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Is It Essential to Optimise a Website for a Mobile?
Online presence of vacation rental businesses should follow and reflect the changes in travel trends. Business and leisure travellers buy their tickets online and book their stay on the Internet in advance. Smartphones have made travel planning more convenient while sitting at home or office. We prefer to plan and book our vacation destinations while commuting to work as it feels like we are not wasting our precious time.
We all have come across, at least once, websites that load slowly on our cellphones or look cluttered on mobile with too much information or an untidy layout. It is very unlikely that you stayed on that website. Nowadays, vacation rental managers will lose potential guests if their direct booking website cannot satisfy those people’s mobile expectations.
Following a solid marketing strategy, you might have invested in content marketing to attract travellers through organic search to visit your website. You might have also provided quality photos of the best views of your properties on your direct booking website. People may share your quality blog post, but what if the person receiving it abandons your page because they cannot find the information they are looking for?
Social media platforms let you interact with your audience, thanks to the worldwide usage of mobile devices. People use mobile devices for reading blogs or email newsletters and leaving reviews related to your properties.
Not surprisingly, Google will not allow a mal-functioning website for mobiles to appear on its search results. This is natural because Google does not sacrifice its credit for a website which has not put effort into optimising responsiveness on various devices. So, if you want to have a segment in the vacation rental market, you have no choice but to optimise your website for mobile devices.
What Is Website Mobile Optimisation?
A mobile-optimised – responsive – website is one that provides the same functionality and user experience for its mobile visitors as it does for desktop visitors. Mobile optimisation factors include page loading speed, responsive design for mobile devices, smart content for the mobile view, and safe and secure payment capability.
What Is Website Responsive Design?
A website that is developed with a responsive design will be adjusted to all screen sizes and orientations of mobile devices.
Responsive design is one aspect of the mobile optimisation topic, which is quite necessary but not sufficient. Adjusting the content of the website to be appropriate for the mobile user and providing a mobile user experience should not be underestimated in mobile optimisation.
Tools to Check If Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, there are several online tools to check your website in terms of various parameters and metrics. Google has provided different tools for testing if your website is mobile-friendly and loads quickly. These websites offer comprehensive reports about different factors that affect mobile friendliness.
How Do You Optimise a Website for Mobile Devices?
In order to be more practical, we will go through the Core Web Vitals Assessment of PageSpeed Insights, which are metrics to measure what your real users are experiencing while visiting your direct booking website on mobile.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is for measuring loading speed as it shows the render time of the page’s main content, such as the largest image within the viewport from the time the page first starts loading. The Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less is ideal for providing a good user experience.
- First Input Delay (FID) is to ensure the quality of your user’s first impression of your direct booking website’s interactivity and responsiveness. It measures the time from clicking a link or pressing a button to the time the browser start processing. FID measures the “delay” in event processing.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is a metric that specifies visual stability and unexpected layout shifts in the lifespan of a page. Layout change happens when a visual element changes its position on the page unexpectedly.
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) determines how fast the first point in the page will appear and this first point makes users’ first impression of how fast your site loads. This is because the first point implies that something is happening on the page.
- Interaction to Next Paint (INP) assesses responsiveness which is how fast a page responds to user input. This metric measures a page’s interaction latency and is normally based on the longest interaction time of the page.
- Time to First Byte (TTFB) measures the time between the initial request for your website and the time when the first byte of response appears.
Is AMP a Solution for Mobile Optimisation of Your Direct Booking Website?
Exploring the topic of mobile optimisation of websites, you will encounter AMP, originally called Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is an open-source framework that Google launched in 2015 to help pages to be accessible with an optimal speed on mobile. AMP helps create lighter pages to load faster on mobile.
AMP applies AMP components which are similar to HTML elements that reduce the load time of web pages substantially. As Google says, websites built by AMP are 5 times more likely to pass Core Web Vitals metrics than non-AMP!
AMP pages will appear in the list of results for Google searches by mobile devices. Whenever an AMP page appears in the Google search list, Google starts rendering it even if the user has not opened it. This pre-rendering step will decrease the loading time of AMP webpages considerably.
Using AMP has its own opponents, too:
- If you have a website and you aim to install AMP on your website, it requires a lot of manual coding. It is easier to make an AMP site from scratch rather than adjusting your website for AMP.
- AMP puts a lot of restrictions on your website to load fast on mobile devices. Not surprisingly, it will reduce the quality of your website design.
- By installing the AMP plugin for your WordPress website, you can convert your website to a mobile-optimised version. Reports show that people who have launched a WordPress website have experienced practical issues while using the AMP plugin for their website. The usage of this feature is not so common and the solutions are very limited.
- AMP by Google will tweak your content, and it has caused controversy about the control of Google on the Internet.
It is up to you and your webmaster to decide whether you want to apply AMP solutions or develop a customised solution to make your website mobile optimised and fast.
Google explains how to customise your website software here.
Implementing the Mobile Site on a Different Domain
Creating a separate webpage for the mobile users of your direct booking website’s might come to mind. Having a separate website increases the workload of your website maintenance, publishing content, and operational works related to your websites. Creating a responsive website is Google’s suggestion for mobile optimisation.
What Is the Best Online Booking System?
Nowadays, more people use their mobile devices for viewing webpages. Smartphones have changed travel planning into a more spontaneous process. In this regard, as a hospitality manager, you need to be aware of the user experience of your mobile users who will land on your direct booking website.
- Make your direct booking website mobile optimised and fast in loading.
- Upload relevant and essential content to your website.
- Equip it with an agile and functional booking engine.
- Provide safe payment gateways.
- Sit back and wait for more direct bookings!
Do you want to know how to start building your mobile-friendly direct booking website in a few minutes? You can read “Getting Started with Direct Booking” right now.