mobile applications and
travelonthego.mobi are two
of AXSES initiatives in
mobile travel marketing.
APPS & WEBSITES
When & how to use and
when not. Why websites
are a better choice in many
How do you get seen.
How do travelers use
smartphones and how will
they ﬁnd hotels and
you need to
know & do with
your mobile site
Following our very popular white paper on Responsive Web Design (RWD) for
tourism, which now has over 12,000 views on SlideShare alone, we have been
monitoring mobile technology for travel carefully. It is going to be covered in depth
in a future book on mobile for travel. It’s also reviewed in the next book By Ian
Clayton in which he says;
“Today, online shoppers often begin tasks on Smartphones and later go to their
laptop or desktop computers to adjust, fine-tune and complete the task. A ‘Google
Think Insights’ study suggests that up to 90% of people used multiple devices to
accomplish a goal. To meet these expectations, your content must adapt to any and
all screens and the user experience must be coordinated across all devices. Really
the only way to achieve this is with a Responsive Web Design. For example, a
traveller may select options on one device and add them to a wish list. He or she will
want the choices to be available again on the next device used. Using customer
profiles, you can save these choices across multiple devices. RWD presents the
information to the traveller in a consistent, yet optimized, manner across all their
That is why we embarked on building one of the worlds most extensive RWD
for the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia, a site that has thousands and
thousands of pages and some very leading edge technology. Our view on RWD
has softened a bit and we know that it is not the answer for everyone. It
requires a lot of resources and is hard work to get it right on all devices with
one design, especially when we rely today on so many widgets that just don’t
support the RWD framework. That takes real time and expertise to work
around and sometimes it may be best to just do a separate mobile site. More
on that later!
In this checklist we are including a summary of an excellent report by
MOZ - we link to the original report at the end of this checklist. The Moz
report was light on RWD so we start off by looking at what was missing
and adding our points to make it complete.
1. For a good primer on Mobile Travel see our report with some case
studies on Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/irclay/hotelmobile3a-
For more on RWD first read our report which you will find on SlideShare:
If you are building a RWD Kathy-Lynn Ward, author of RWD report and COO of
AXSES suggest these tips (below) based on her own experience after the
launch of Barbados.org’s redesign and the many clients sites that followed.
2. Use measurement tools (such as Google Analytics) to determine if users
are carrying out the key calls to action such as purchase, contact, share, etc.
The goals you establish for your mobile site might be different from your
desktop site. Your digital measurement strategy should reflect this.
3. Tailor content for your mobile site. Images should be resized (either
manually or with a server-side solution) for faster download, less bandwidth
and better display. Text content should be broken down into smaller,
4. A good search feature is a must on mobile, with users wanting quick
access to specific information. Make sure your search is highly visible in a
consistent location and sends users to mobile pages.
5. When using plugins, make sure they too are mobile-friendly. Many
claim to be but fall short in reality. Research and testing is a must.
6. When using 3rd party services for critical functions (like credit card
processing, booking engine, etc), make sure that it delivers a positive user
experience on mobile. There is no point in delivering a great mobile
experience on your own site only to lose the customer on an inadequate
7. Shelly Burke, Webmaster at AXSES offers tips on what tools you can use
to get around some of the road blocks and incompatibilities when designing
for a diverse audience. She offers these tips on testing resources.
Where real-time testing on physical devices is not possible, use some of the
online resources available to test your design on as many interfaces as
possible. Examples include:
◦ http://ami.responsivedesign.is/ (view major devices on one screen)
8. It is tempting to avoid RWD and do a Mobile site. In some cases that’s the
best option but there is one reason that prevails in making RWD the
strategy that will win out. That is what we call the Multi Screen Shift.
We mentioned that in the beginning but it is worth repeating. It’s especially
important as we move into an age of shared intelligence across multiple
devices, the Internet of Things and of communication.
The reason why this is so vital is that the intelligent systems now being
put in place require sharing between devices and this is often achieved
by connections, messages and tokens that pass between devices and shared
programs. This is pretty hard to achieve if the devices are not working
together and are on entirely different platforms. It’s just a lot more effective
if one design, program and platform is used across the devices.
9. If you don’t do a RWD your options are to look at Applications (Native
Apps) and Web Apps (websites designed for mobile).
Native apps work well for Online Travel Agents and Destinations where
the traveler is searching and comparing multiple offers. They work for hotels
and tourism operators when combined to provide services like room keys,
etc that are simply not available on the Internet.
In our opinion they do not work for independent hotels at all. Travellers look
at many sites, some say 30 on average before making a decision, the
average traveller is not going to download an app for every hotel they look
at. On average they download about 6 and those are the consolidators and
aggregator apps like Facebook, TripAdvisor and OTA sites.
Summary of MOZ CheckList
We have summarized the original document making it less technical and orienting
somewhat to mobile travel. For full details we provide a link to the original article
at the end of this section.
Connecting your mobile site with your desktop site (when
not using RWD)
Redirect your pages between desktop and mobile
• Many get this wrong. It’s important to lead travelers to the exact page
not just the homepage. It’s also important to give them the choice. Many
may want to see the desktop version even on their Smartphone.
Allow mobile visitors to see the desktop version of the site
• Make sure the option to get to the desktop is easy to find and make sure
they can switch back at will.
Separate URL sites: Check rel=alternate/canonical tags
• Make sure that you code the site metatags so that search engines know
it’s a variant of your desktop site. If not you might get penalized for
duplicate content- see the MOZ report on how to do this.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to see if Google is having a hard time
crawling your mobile site
• You do have to make sure all is working and that Google and other
search engines will find the site. Check the MOZ pages for details on how
to do this.
Check/add the mobile XML sitemap
• You need to setup a separate sitemap for your separate mobile website
and submit that to Google. Google will then index those pages
Review the mobile site as you would review any site
• Geoff Kenyon's Technical Site Audit Checklist is a great place to start.
Check the site speed for mobile devices
• Use the page speed tool to get recommendations on how to optimize
site loading for mobile. Phones have less computing power and heavy
coding and/or images will compromise the mobile user experience.
View the site on a variety of mobile devices
• Check it on all of the leading phones and make sure it looks good on
iPhone (iOS), Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android), Nexus 5 (another
Android), and Nokia Lumia 520 (Windows).
• Do the same with tablets like iPad (iOS), Samsung Galaxy Tab in
multiple sizes (Android), Kindle Fire (Amazon), and Asus Transformer
Book (Windows). See the Moz report for more details.
• Mobile sites typically summarize the content of the main website. It’s
important to link to more content on the website even if it’s not
mobile. Use analytics to determine what content users want.
Map mobile to desktop pages
• There should be an equivalent mobile page for every desktop page.
• There may be more mobile than desktop pages, since it's often
easier to navigate mobile sites if you break up the desktop content
into multiple pages.
• In some instances, you may have extra mobile pages based on
location capabilities, but it's still best to offer them in both versions,
so visitors never feel like they can't find something they remembered
on your site.
Edit wordy content
• Mobile visitors have to deal with small screens, and are often on the
go and have less patience.
• Get the same message across as briefly as possible.
Remove unnecessary images
• Use only images that really communicate your message and make
Use an HTML5 video player
• It's lightweight and easy for phones to render. Many video sites like
YouTube will automatically configure the video for the device but
SEO Page Tags
Does your title work on two lines?
• Titles are often about 70 characters (512 pixels) and with the smaller
screen that gets rendered as two lines. Check that it works - You may
have to summarize it.
Check your description meta tags
• The mobile meta descriptions will get cut at about 120 characters by
Google and other search engines. Your desktop is usually more (150
characters) so make sure the shorter version works.
Have a snappy, keyword rich mobile URL
• If all your redirects are setup properly Google and others will show
the mobile URL for mobile searches. Make sure it looks enticing and
has your keywords in it. For more on redirects see the report.
Run pages through the W3C's mobileOK checker to make sure you haven't
missed any small coding errors. It's fairly finicky, but that makes sure it
finds a lot of issues you may have overlooked.
For More Details on the MOZ checklist go to http://moz.com/blog/
Responsive Web Design White Paper
Mobile Travel Report
Widgets and Testers
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VISUAL MARKETING TECHNOLOGY
AXSES VISUAL MARKETING &
P. O. Box 16B, Brittons Hill,
BB11090 Barbados, West Indies
Personalized & Intelligent
Visual Information Technology
AXSES Marketing & Publishing
Technology For Tourism
Find out more about visual travel planning - visual bookings
technology and visual marketing at the website above
Tel 246 429 2653
mail: ianrclayton (at) axses.com
211 Kennedy Rd
Canada, B3Z 1V5