The Year of the Tablet

The Year of the Tablet

2014 is set to be the year of the tablet.  These user friendly devices are expected to make the long-expected jump to global acceptance.  Recent figures show that 47.6 million units shipped around the world in Q3 2013.  According to a new report from Gartner, over 260 million tablets will be shipped in 2014.  This is still behind the 280 million PCs (desktop and notebook) expected to be shipped. However, Gartner is expecting tablets to overtake PCs in 2015.

blog_PaulRicher_10Jan The importance of this for the travel industry should not be underestimated.  Whilst commercial businesses primarily stick to using PCs, tablets are becoming the defacto Internet browsing device for use around the home.  Unlike mobiles, phablets or PCs they are easy to use for shared viewing, for example, browsing holiday websites.  I believe that they will become the primary device being used to research and purchase leisure travel.

With this in mind, what do travel companies need to be doing to capitalise on the tablet boom?  We are all well used to our businesses owning and maintaining websites.  The better ones allow customers to search for product, access all the information they need to catalyse a purchase decision and then make a booking.  The big change that is taking place this year  is that your website now needs to be tablet friendly.  Customers will not be using a mouse to navigate your web pages, they will be poking and swiping with their fingers.  They will not be viewing on a 21 inch monitor but on a typical screen size of around 10 inches.

So who has already got the message?  I browsed a few travel company websites on my tablet to see how they are fairing.  The first website I looked at was Expedia.  The organisation invests heavily in its technology so I would expect it to be right up to speed with the tablet revolution.  I was disappointed.  Expedia’s website thinks that my tablet is a mobile phone and serves up its mobile site.  Take a look on your tablet.  You may agree with me that Expedia’s mobile site looks ridiculous on a 10 inch tablet.  It’s the same with lastminute.com and ebookers.com.  Both sites think my tablet is a mobile.

Looking at the major leisure travel companies; Thomson Holidays standard website displays on a tablet but has been well designed to be finger friendly.  Virgin Holidays and Kuoni serve up their standard websites on tablet which are a bit finicky for fat fingers.  Thomas Cook’s website seemed to be having an outage as I could not access it on any device and Direct Holidays site attempted to load a page called serverError.jsp.

The sites that I viewed were not exactly basking in the glory of a job well done.  I really want to give you an example of a travel company that is indeed doing a good job of taking tablets seriously but, after half an hour or so of surfing, I simply could not find one.  Very disappointing!  2014 is the year of the tablet and the travel industry does not seem to have caught on.  Do you know any travel companies that have good tablet sites?  If so, do let me know.

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Paul Richer is Senior Partner of Genesys, a management consultancy specialising in providing advice on technology for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Genesys has built a worldwide reputation for its knowledge and experience of new system procurement, online technology and strategies including website audits and online booking systems, reviewing and formulating companies’ IT strategies and more. Clients include many of the best known names in travel. Paul has co-authored several reports examining the impact of technology on the distribution of travel, including “Distribution Technology in the Travel Industry” originally published by Financial Times Retail and “Marketing Destinations Online – Strategies for the Information Age” published by the World Tourism Organisation. He has presented at and chaired many online travel conferences, is regularly quoted in the press and has also been invited to make several appearances on television to debate the subject. Prior to founding Genesys in 1994, Paul was Business Development Director of Finite Group plc and Head of the Group’s IT strategy consultancy. He holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, is a Fellow of the Institute of Travel & Tourism and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. More information at http://www.genesys.net/

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