Get Mobile, or Get Left Behind: How to Get your Business or Destination Website Mobile Optimised

It’s no secret, people are using their Mobiles more frequently to access the internet and undertake their daily online activities – including reseaching and booking travel products.

Desktop vs Mobile Usage Trends

Whilst people are still using desktop computers to purchase travel online, StatCounter Global Stats platform comparison data suggests a new trend.

In their usage graph below, it indicates that mobile usage is slowly but surely taking market share over desktop computers:

  • Desktop usage dropping approximately 10% in the last year to approx. 62% (Dec 2013 – Dec 2014)
  • Mobile and tablet combined usage increasing approximately 10% in the last year to approximately 38%


Mobile usage to purchase Travel Product

Chiming in to the same argument, Think with Google 2013 Traveller Research insights suggest:

  • 53% of leisure travellers use a smartphone to research and plan their holidays
  • 1 in 4 of people will end up booking their tourism experiences via a smartphone

Implications of not having a Mobile Optimised website

Google’s insights also indicate that if your website offers a great mobile experience, users are more likely to make a purchase, with;

  • 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
  • 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service

BUT… the survey also noted that of the 83% of travelers have come across a poor displaying website on mobile, only 23% of them would purch through with a sale!


Google’s clamping down on non-optimised websites…

To add fuel to the fire, from a SEO perspective, Google is shutting the doors on non-mobile-optimised websites from appearing in their Mobile Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) suggesting that “recent studies show that mobile visitors are more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites, mobile usability is now relevant for optimal search results”.

And… just recently, Google dropped a major announcement stating that, as of April 21st 2015, the search giant will be extending the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal throughout mobile search results.

In short, this means that if your website isn’t optimised for mobile, then unfortunately you have a lower chance of ranking well in search engine results.


So what does this all mean for Tourism Businesses & Destinations?

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to think Mobile – and there are 3 options for operators and destinations to consider.


Option 1: Responsive Design

Responsive Website Design Tourism Industry

Responsive web design is a web design technique which required functional development that is aimed at providing an optimal viewing experience for visitors — that is, easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to smartphones).

Responsive design is different to a normal website design in the sense that it is built using flexible components, where the design elements move and change depending on the device that it is being viewed upon.



  • You will have to change your entire existing website.
  • Cost. Because responsive design can be tricky, and there is more to building it, it will cost more.
  • All content is downloaded whether it is used or not. This means that if you have a large slideshow, it will have to download the entire full size slideshow to the mobile phone, then resize it.
  • Pages load slower; full-size images are downloaded, then resized to fit the device.
    To see whether your website has a responsive design, visit or and then type your website’s URL – you will soon know whether your website has a responsive design or not!

Option 2: Mobile Website

A mobile website can be created in addition to the desktop version and designed specifically for mobile devices. It is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WEBSITE to your desktop website (built separately) and the content is generally limited to the most important elements (contact us, book now, location, product photos).

Additionally, a Mobile site has simple buttons and HTML text pages, with minimal graphics and don’t have any fancy design features such as flash or parallax scrolling resulting in quick load time and an easy-to-navigate interface. A mobile site should also offer a link to the full desktop version for those who like to pinch and zoom and see everything.


  • You don’t have to create a new website to add a mobile website
  • If built properly, the mobile site can load very fast


  • Different URLs can make it harder for users to interact with website
  • May need to be redirected, which slows down site
  • Requires more website maintenance

Option 3: Mobile Apps

A Mobile App is completely different to a website, it is an application that a user downloads from Apple, Windows, Blackberry or Android online App Stores. The app contains static information, which can be accessed offline, and when online, updates to the app can automatically or manually be processed to keep the information on the App current.

A tourism business may use an App in conjunction with their website and mobile website, but it doesn’t replace the need for a website. In the Tourism Industry, Apps are generally used by larger tourism experiences, specific events and destinations, but any tourism business could create an App, and may be useful for those tourism businesses who are in remote parts of the continent, where internet access is minimal, as this will ensure your visitors can download and access all the required information about a product before travelling.

So, What’s Our Recommendation?

We recommend tourism businesses invest in a responsive design for their website, this will ensure you only have one set of online domain names, hosting and content to maintain.

We also recommend looking into developing a mobile app if there is a direct need that you can assist your customers with by using the App technology.


About the author, Paige Rowett

Paige is the co-director of Tourism eSchool and a Tourism Marketing Consultant ( Paige is passionate about working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies, specialising in marketing strategy, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing, website strategy, search engine optimisation & blogging.

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  • Peter | Woof Media

    Excellent advice, Paige.

    While responsive design is definitely a recommended starting point for most websites, the technology isn’t perfect yet. Challenges are constantly being overcome as the technology matures and mobile broadband speeds improve.

    In regards to one drawback noted (Pages load slower; full-size images are downloaded, then resized to fit the device.): this can be mitigated somewhat by some clever coding that loads different sizes of the same image based on screen size. If this isn’t possible in your development budget, then quality web hosting combined with compression and caching techniques for your website will all help a lot (best to talk to your web agency as they would/should know how to help with these issues if they build responsive websites)