"Stop bombarding mobile travelers with unnecessary web content that comes from Responsive Web Design. Relevancy, not redundancy, is key to mobile website success." This is the message that Lodging Interactive is stressing to hotel marketers in 2013. The interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, which also receives numerous hotel website design awards annually, says hoteliers need to be mindful that placing too much content on their mobile website can be more of a traveler deterrent rather than an incentive to book or buy.
"There are many definitions of Responsive Web Design (RWD), but our concern is directed to adapting website content to fit different screen sizes and reformatting data elements so that they are more easily viewable," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "What would appear on a hotel's website as a three-column copy box would be reduced to one column of text with smaller images to simplify navigation using a Responsive Web Design process. But here's the rub: All content that appears in the original site is resized and adapted for the mobile web. That means, a hotel's 50 page website which contains detailed information on the property, room types, floor plans, photo galleries, news and press releases, etc., all becomes part of the mobile display. Not only is this an overwhelming amount of data for a mobile environment, but it's simply not an efficient format for today's mobile-dependent travelers who demand quick, relevant information.
"For this reason and many more, we at Lodging Interactive believe that from a website design standpoint, two separate versions are needed: one for the desktop and tablet, and a separate website architecturally optimized for mobile users that provides them with just the information they need to engage with the hotel and make their experience rewarding," Vallauri said. "Ignoring the needs and demands of smartphone users for the sake of technology will only turn them away, versus driving new business and creating new loyal customers."
Lodging Interactive identifies the Top 5 Reasons that Responsive Web Design is Not a Best Practice:
1. "One Web" May 'Fit' All, But Should It?
While RWD aims to scale and stream web content to a variety of mobile devices with differing screen sizes, it may not be the best option for hotels or brands looking to deliver unique and innovative experiences to guests. A key reason that consumers have become dependent on mobile technology is that it provides them with a shortcut to instant information. If a traveler had the time available to navigate through multiple pages of hotel information and peruse photos, read reviews, etc., chances are he or she would do so via the proprietary website via a laptop, desktop or tablet.
2. RWD Increases Data Load Time
Consumers are flocking to mobile technology because of its convenience and easy access to information. Those benefits become moot when a user is trying to load content from a 50-page hotel website. A mobile web version would dramatically reduce data load time and simultaneously remove any undue stress associated with trying to access hotel information.
3. RWD Ignores the Core Desires of Users
Studies show that consumers are using their smartphones as a primary device versus a PC or laptop. As this market continues to grow, it makes good business sense to deliver data in a way that is relevant to this target audience. Mobile savvy consumers are leaving the PC environment for a reason. Bombarding them with an overabundance of traditional web content is pointless.
4. RWD Takes Longer to Build and is More Expensive
Just keeping up with the demands of maintaining a hotel's mobile strategy is challenging. Why complicate the matter by establishing a plan that is challenging to execute and costly to build? Standard mobile website development takes far less time and at a cost much less than what a typical Responsive Website Designer would charge.
5. RWD Content Management is Cumbersome
If you thought implementing the RWD program was difficult, try managing the content on an ongoing basis and updating images, descriptions, promotions, etc. on the fly. Lodging Interactive assumes the content management role for its Mobile Website customers. Not only does this take a lot of pressure off hoteliers shoulders, but it guarantees that all content remains fresh and relevant for mobile customers.
Mobile Website Design Making a Difference
Lodging Interactive offers customized, hosted mobile solutions for hotels and resorts of all sizes and brand affiliations. The technology enables fast download time for all iPhone and Blackberry users worldwide, along with easy navigation, stunning image photo galleries and connections to Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Lodging Interactive's mobile marketing services enable direct hotel-to-consumer communications via SMS text messaging.
Lodging Interactive's mobile website service enables hotels to offer mobile users a dynamic and streamlined user experience regardless of mobile device. Pages can detail the property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages, restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions, click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more. Mobile website management and hosting also is provided by Lodging Interactive. The company's mobile website code automatically redirects mobile users to the hotel’s mobile website.
"While responsive design can help hotels achieve a certain measure of consistency across channels, the real prize lies with the ability to create unique experiences for guests," Vallauri said. "Lodging Interactive will design a mobile website experience for each hotel that delivers higher engagement and contributes to overall mobile strategy success."