Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites (Part 1)

Mobile travel websites – that is, travel oriented websites that are available to mobile users – have become critical for any destination looking to attract visitors. Hotels, resorts, summer camps, arts districts, and even entire cities are now realizing that they need these sites as part of a larger strategy to compete for attention . . . and of course, tourism dollars.

Think About It: Mobile and Travel = Peanut Butter and Jelly

Travel and mobile devices on the beach

Mobile travel websites help visitors determine not only where to visit, but where to go once there. Are you taking another selfie over there?

Mobile and travel go together like peanut butter and jelly. Visitors to your website – and destination – are more likely than ever to use a device. Statistics on mobile usage and adoption are (not surprisingly) through the roof. But, for the travel and hospitality industries, aggressive adoption is even more of a no-brainer.

After all, just like their devices, the travel audience is mobile: They are on the go.

What’s surprising is that so many in the hospitality and travel industries still have websites that aren’t even mobile-friendly. Worse, Google even dings you for that now – one reason they offer a free mobile-friendly test for web sites.

There is really no reason to ignore the mobile-friendly requirement. There are many tools to help ensure that website content is handled automatically according to device and screen size. This practice is called responsive design.

If you’re using WordPress, a third party theme such as those provided by StudioPress can do the responsive design work for you. And, they do it extremely well.

The Different Forms of Mobile Travel Websites

There are many forms that mobile travel websites can take. Depending on the intention of your site, consider providing different flavors and amounts of content types. Reviews, ratings, blogs, deal finders . . . the big thing is keeping content engaging. Over time, you may find that your audience is looking for certain content over other kinds. If so, adjust accordingly. Keep it flexible, and take time to understand your audience.

The Importance of Visual Content for Mobile Travel Websites

Whatever the content, one thing is for sure: A mobile travel website must include lots of photos. User expectations are also shifting in such a way as to expect new and different images regularly. It’s understandable. In the age of Facebook and Instragram, it isn’t too much to expect regularly updated content.

And, let that serve as a reminder – be sure the website ties in social media. But, don’t rely solely on social media. There are still a lot of things that websites do better than a Facebook page or Twitter account can do.

And that brings us to what is often still thought of as a virtual tour or walkthrough . . . a smart tour. This format can help attract new visitors or help others better understand what you like or don’t like about a particular destination.

Our next portion of this series – Part 2 of Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites – will be dedicated to incorporating smart tours using the Whitepoint framework into a mobile travel website.

Do you like (or dislike) the ideas above? Other ideas? Questions? Drop us a comment below or reach out on Twitter @WhitepointMobi. 

Updated August 25, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Paper Hotel Maps . . . Really?

Despite the popularity of smartphones, tablets, and iPads, paper maps aren’t going anywhere. That’s fine. They’re nice to have when you’ve lost your phone, it isn’t charged, or you don’t have connectivity. But nothing surprises us more here at Whitepoint than the ubiquitous paper resort or hotel map.

Check in to even the plushest of hotels or resorts, and you’ll likely be given a paper map of the property. Sometimes, this map may even be photocopied, because the front desk ran out of the color maps. Front desk staff may proceed to draw or highlight all over your hotel map to show you the spa or the location of the closest ice machine.

There is an alternative to paper resort and hotel maps.

This paper resort map belongs to a large hotel chain who will remain nameless.

On tropical properties, you will need several copies of this map, because your first resort map has been folded in your pocket while walking all day in 99% humidity.

We could go on for hours with this, but there are some points that can benefit the hospitality industry.

Hotel Map Kiosks

Hotel and resort properties that include kiosks make a very positive impression on road weary guests and can make a big impression on specific demographics. The Aloft Hotels brand comes to mind.

A kiosk style installation can of course be expensive. It may also be overkill for many properties. Still, it can at least give a brand street cred with tech business travelers and undo some of the harm done with that photocopied hotel map.

Dual Duty for Resort and Hotel Maps

An interactive hotel map can help visitors navigate while encouraging new business as well. Providing compelling images of the property with meaningful data points – not just a virtual tour – helps guests navigate and potential guests better envision the property.

It also helps property management position the brand in visitors’ minds by showcasing it consistently. What was once a necessary evil – the paper hotel map – becomes a more powerful marketing opportunity.

A Whitepoint Hotel Map

Given the above, Whitepoint is a perfect framework for building an interactive resort or hotel map. Here are a few reasons why:

Yes, we’re still going to have paper maps for a while. But, maybe the above can help create a more meaningful experience for at least some resort and hotel guests.

Did I mention the bit about washing clothes upon return from a trip, and you’ve left the hotel map in your back pocket? Not fun.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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