10 Best Practices in Mobile Optimization for Travel

Travel-related transactions made on mobile devices account for 18% of total digital travel sales – that number is expected to double within just two years (L2 Digital Index).

Mobile booking is now the norm and customers expect brands to take it a step further by offering end-to-end travel services like mobile hotel check-in, in-destination booking services, and customer service during travel. For example, 84% of Luxury Hotel brands now offer a mobile-optimized web experience on smartphones, and 45% offer a native app.

Since the travel industry is no rookie to digital – we decided to examine 10 brands that are excelling in mobile and identify best practices that you can implement for your brand.

Not in travel? These 10 best practices may still be applicable to you!


Hotwire.com recieved the award for Best Travel Mobile Website, and it’s no surprise to us. This company successfully combined two major trends – last minute deals and mobile usage – when they launched their mobile site back in March 2011. Being well accustomed to mobile behaviour, they have provided their users with an easy to navigate and incredibly fast experience on their mobile phone. (Not to mention GPS, native maps and click-to-call customer support!) Hotwire.com helps their target demographic of the last-minute traveller to book a car or a hotel till the clock strikes midnight on the very first page.

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The First Steps:

Great customer service happens the moment your customer steps in the store. Typically, a sales associate will be there to greet you and help you navigate your next move. Outrigger has replicated the ease of navigating through a store on their mobile site by using the header to include a simplified search bar, and if you are looking for that helping human hand – a call center.

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The Ultimate Brand Experience:

Virgin America:
Airlines have blindly copied each others websites for over a decade, so Virgin America set out to build a mobile website made for travellers first. Their mobile site gets users booked in half the time via a step-by-step ticketing program that leaves customers with their own pocket-fold-up boarding pass.

Virgin also took the idea of a consistent brand experience across all touch points to the next level. The mobile sites design was entirely inspired by the company’s mood-lit plans and cheeky sense of humor.

They received the 2015 Webby Award for Best Visual Design on a Mobile Site & App.

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Hot Deals:

Coast Hotels
When a traveller is motivated by a low price – you want to keep them hot on the path to purchase. Coast Hotels provides an easy-to-follow booking experience by ensuring that their promo banners lead to the logical next step, i.e: when a shopper clicks on a hot deal for last minute travel, they are taken to a page showing those deals before it’s too late!

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Discover and Confirm:

Airbnb’s first goal is to help travellers discover amazing new places – outside of a typical hotel experience. Their mobile experience opens up to a search bar saying [Where do you want to go?], inspiring users to get into the flow of discovery right away. They also provide tons of imagery to help travellers confirm that this is the place for them.

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Localization for Global Brands

When you have a phenomenally successful global brand, it can be hard to constantly feel close to home for every customer. Marriott has bypassed that feeling by providing it’s customers a filter in their mobile site within the navigation bar. Not only can you change which country you want to browse – you can also choose your language! This also helps to keep promotions aligned and directed to the right people.

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The Comparison Game:

Kayak is a travel search engine which searches hundreds of travel sites to help you find and book the flight or hotel that suits you best. To provide the best options up front, they have designed a comparison shopping option on your mobile device. They have simplified booking and discovery by providing three standard filter options: date, location and number of guests. Making booking that much easier – and faster.

Kayak won the 2015 Webby Award for best Travel Mobile Site & App.

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The Photography:

Leading Hotels Of The World
The visual component of travel is massive. Travellers want to go somewhere that looks clean, safe and exotic. Leading Hotels of the World uses video on their website to tell the story of the next adventure for their customers. Once you click on a video – you can continue to explore further. Allowing for a very dynamic experience. Customers viewing the brand’s website on a mobile device will see mobile-specific images and videos, which provide close-ups of the their destinations to ensure intrigue.

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The Booking Engine

Carnival Cruises has created one of the best mobile booking engines. They allow for multi-cabin booking in a streamlined user-flow to condense complicated steps often found on travel sites. Their forms have removed the non-essential fields and will explain why fields are required if it’s not obvious to the user. They also provide promotions at the very top of their page — allowing travellers to see current deals often lead by price.

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The Travel App

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines has a goal of making the experience of flight as easy and hassle-free as possible. Their iPhone app helps extend that experience with timely trip information, check in, booking, and electronic boarding passes all at your fingertips.

Winners of the Mobile Web Award for outstanding achievement in mobile development.

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Become a Leader in Mobile

Now that you’ve drawn inspiration from some of the best in the industry, start designing the ultimate mobile shopping experience for your customers. Download the Design Guide below to get started!

Get The Design Guide Now

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