Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites (Part 2)

In Part 1 of Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites, we explored some things to keep in mind when building travel oriented websites that are available to mobile users.

One of the most important parts of mobile travel websites is the visual content. And, that’s where a virtual tour – or better yet, a smart tour – plays a role.

Tours in Mobile Travel Websites

Whether you are marketing a hotel, resort, golf course, or summer camp, you know the importance of sharing the best your property has to offer. Luckily for the tourism and hospitality industries, there is no shortage of compelling visuals to attract visitors.

For years, the virtual tour was a way of providing a walkthrough of a place – as with real estate or hotel properties. The problem with virtual tours is that they now have to compete with a lot of other visual content, and in comparison, they often lack compelling detail to make them stand out. That’s a nice swimming pool, but is it mineral or chlorine? How deep is the deep end? What about the shallow end? Is there a swim up bar? An image doesn’t effectively answer all those questions.

Now, add the complication of mobile devices, and the platforms for virtual tours of the past have an even tougher time competing. If you are looking to build a tour, find out if the platform requires Flash. (Yes, they’re still out there.) If so, you’ll likely want to reconsider. Support and the required workarounds continue to make Flash problematic for many users.

Different Formats for Smart Tours

A tour image to introduce a smart tour

A good introductory graphic can include both a logo and a loosely drawn map. The map doesn’t have to be provided by a cartographer – often, a simple representation can have a bigger impact for mobile travel websites.

So how do you arrange a tour of your destination? First, ask yourself how you want to present the destination. Will your tour attract new customers? Or, will it serve existing visitors? The answers to those questions may guide your format decisions.

We’ve found that there are three distinct ways that provide the best user experience and simplify content collection.

For our purposes here, we’re going speak in terms of building your tour using the Whitepoint platform and its scape/scene/whitepoint logic. However, the basic principles remain the same regardless of how you structure your tour.

The northeast portion of our sample city tour for mobile travel websites

Breaking your map image up into geographical areas can create a more compelling experience and enable you to add more detail. For example, breaking the previous introductory tour image up into the city’s quadrants can provide for focus on a particular area or district of the travel destination.

Break Your Scape (Tour) Into Different Portions of a Map – This approach is good when you have greater detail to share.

  • Scape Image (Introductory Image): The map. Scene points can mark the different areas of your map. This enables you to break it down into the Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest quadrants for example.
  • Scenes: Each scene is a different area of your location’s map.
  • Whitepoints: The different places within each area of the larger map . . . for example: a lodge, a dock, or a restaurant.

Use Your Map as a Single Scene – This approach is good when you have less detail to share.

  • Scape Image: A nice logo or introductory graphic.
  • Scene: The map image of your destination.
  • Whitepoints: The places that are plotted on your map. If you don’t have many locations, this is fine. But, if you have lots of points of interest to plot, it won’t make for a pleasant experience on mobile. This is the main reason for breaking the map down into areas as described in the first option above.

Point of View Walking Tour – Take some pictures of your destination location on a nice day and provide a point of view perspective walking tour of the property.

  • Scape Image: A map graphic – perhaps with a logo or introductory graphic included.
  • Scenes: Start at the welcome center or visitor arrival area. Each scene is a representation of what your visitors will see.
  • Whitepoints: The places and points of interest your visitors see along the way. Consider the details regarding the swimming pool mentioned above, for example.

However you decide to arrange your tour, don’t forget the importance of meaningful content on mobile travel websites. Travel destinations are perfect for providing compelling visuals and useful information – leverage this advantage.

Do you have questions about arranging a smart tour or gathering your content for mobile travel websites? We’d love to hear from you. 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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