More than half of the UK’s top 50 travel brands don’t have a mobile optimised site, according to research published last week by the IAB.
Furthermore, although 52% of the top travel brands have a mobile app only 56% of them are transactional, while a third of the businesses have no mobile presence at all.
This means they are failing to provide an important research channel for their customers, as a separate study from JiWire has shown that when looking for information on their next holiday or business trip consumers are just as likely to turn to their mobile device as they are to use a laptop.
Similarly, new data from ResponseTap that highlights a fairly typical purchase journey shows the importance of mobile for travel companies, as customers often browse the mobile web as well as calling travel operators while researching their holiday options.
This graphic is based on one customer's journey when purchasing a holiday
With this in mind, I investigated some of the brands included in the IAB’s study to see how easy it is to find a contact phone number on their mobile sites.
Ideally the ‘contact us’ option should be prominently displayed on the homepage and the phone number should be presented as a click-to-call button.
Here’s what I found out...
Emirates has placed ‘contact us’ as one of the main options on its mobile homepage, however you are then forced to select your country and a location from a massive dropdown menu.
This seems like a pointless step bearing in mind that that Emirates already knows that I’m accessing its site from the UK. The contact page is also poorly formatted. The font is far too small and it has failed to use click-to-call buttons.
Flybe has a massive ‘Contact us’ icon on the homepage of its mobile site, which is perfect for mobile users.
The contact page scores points for offering click-to-call hyperlinks, though I feel the font could be made slightly bigger. Also, it costs 10p per minute plus network charges in order to make a call, which is likely to put off a lot of customers.
Holiday park operator Haven has a small ‘Contact us’ link at the bottom of its homepage that links directly to a contact page with equally small font and no click-to-call buttons.
German airline Lufthansa throws up one or two barriers before users can find the contact details, as you first have to select your country from a dropdown menu before locating the tiny ‘Contact’ link at the very bottom of the page.
On the plus side it does use click-to-call buttons, though there’s no cost information.
Stena Line has excellent click-to-call buttons on its mobile site, however they’re located within the ‘Find Us’ section so it’s not easy to find them.
It also fails to give any indication as to the cost of making a call.
Holiday Inn locates its phone numbers within the ‘Customer service’ section housed in the three-line navigation menu in the top left of the screen.
It’s a relatively easy task to find the contact details, however Holiday Inn hasn’t used click-to-call buttons and the UK numbers cost 10p per minute.
Keen readers of the Econsultancy blog will know that I’m not a huge fan of Thomas Cook’s rather poor mobile site, and I wasn’t at all surprised that it’s also impossible to find any contact details.
Hilton Hotels has a ‘Call us now’ link tucked away at the bottom of its mobile homepage however the number it brings up is 8882259664, which doesn’t actually connect to anything.
I couldn’t find any way of contacting easyJet on its mobile site, but then I couldn’t find a telephone number on the desktop version either.
It appears that easyJet has no interest in speaking to any of its customers.
Hotel chain Premier Inn has a well-designed mobile site that makes it incredibly easy to find a contact number.
The ‘Contact us’ section is located within the three-line navigation button and the phone number is prominently displayed on what looks like a click-to-call button.
However Premier Inn lets itself down at this stage as it’s actually a static graphic rather than a button, though it does at least include the call tariff.
National Express commits the cardinal sin of linking customers to a desktop site when they attempt to find contact details, which is incredibly jarring and ruins the user experience.
None of the travel operators I looked at really nailed the mobile experience and they all had things that could be improved.
To ensure a smooth UX site owners should make it easy to locate the contact number, ideally in a single click, then display a click-to-call button alongside details of the phone tariffs.
None of the brands in this post managed to create this fairly simple user journey as they all failed to implement at least one of the criteria.
For example, Stena Line has excellent click-to-call buttons but it's tricky to find them, while Flybe has a great 'Contact Us' icon on its hompage but then uses tiny hyperlinks on its phone numbers rather than buttons or icons.
Ultimately this is unlikely to cause these brands to lose a huge number of conversions, but it's still a fairly basic design flaw that could easily be improved upon.