A lot of statistics on subjects like online accommodation booking or the influence of social media on travel tend to hail from America, which always seems to be ahead of the UK when it comes to adopting new technology for business. However, it looks as if at least one innovation – the increase in the use of mobile devices like iPhones, Androids and iPads – is having a significant effect on the habits of British holidaymakers (and not just those who are going abroad.)
A survey of 2,008 consumers by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found the following:
- 14% used their mobile phone to book a foreign holiday online
- 10% used their tablet to book a foreign holiday online
- 12% used their mobile phone to book a domestic holiday online
- 8% used their tablet to book a domestic holiday online
ABTA also notes that mobile booking is even more prevalent among younger travellers: “…younger people have particularly embraced mobile devices when they book a holiday online, with nearly half (47%) of those aged 15-24 using this method to book an overseas trip in the last 12 months.”
It goes without saying that travellers in that age group probably won’t be booking B&Bs (something of a blessing for owners, perhaps). But quite a lot of them will be one day and when they do, mobile booking will be second nature to them. So although you may not be losing much business through failing to offer mobile booking and a mobile-friendly website right now, it will become increasingly important in the longer term (just as having a B&B website at all has gone from being a gimmick to an absolute must in a relatively short space of time.)
But what is it that makes a B&B website mobile-friendly?
Certain, more technical aspects ( 320 X 240 screen resolution / a mobile-specific website) are best left in the hands of your web designer, but there are some basic requirements of any mobile site that are pretty straightforward (and pretty obvious, when you think about them):
- Don’t make it too dynamic . In other words, don’t use Flash or load the site with big photos which take a long time to load. Also avoid long descriptions. Keep it short and sweet.
- Keep the basic design of the site “long and narrow”. Don’t force the user to scroll sideways.
- Likewise, arrange navigation links vertically, so they’re easy to tap.
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