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Size Really Does Matter in the Digital Travel Experience

It’s been a while since we heard from our friend Pedro Colaco, president and chief executive of GuestCentric

With all the changes, challenges and opportunities arising from increasing screen sizes of mobile phones, Pedro spells out for us the 6 things that we should keep in consideration to make the most of this new technology trend.

This article first appeared in TNOOZ on 30th January under the title Size REALLY does matter in travel – welcome to a new era for devices. We are pleased to republish it here with permission from Pedro Colaco.

No one can escape the rise and rise of mobile and its importance in the travel industry. Tablets, smartphones and, now the hybrid phablets, are taking on PCs’ functions from planning a trip to booking elements of the trip such as hotels and flights,. In short, the devices are becoming travellers’ personal assistants.

eMarketer’s latest forecast of digital and mobile travel researching and booking, predicts that 2015 will be a defining year for mobile. According to this latest study, 47% of all 2015 online travel research will be via mobile devices.

> PhoCusWright US Online Travel Overview Thirteenth Edition report expects mobile travel bookings in the US to reach $39.5 billion by 2015.

> Besides the changes in how people use their mobile device, we’re also seeing changes in the devices themselves. Smartphones are taking over from tablets as the main mobile experience.

> According to eMarketer, 9 in 10 mobile searches will be done on smartphones instead of tablets in the next year.

> And, according to Adobe’s 2014 Mobile Benchmark Report, browsing in tablets has flattened, as consumers prefer to browse more on bigger screen phones.

In fact, as noted by TechCrunch, users of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are spending more time reading on their phones even when they own and use an iPad.

The era of huge screens

Before 2011, almost every phone in market had screens between 2.5” and 4”. Since 2013, 4” phones have nearly disappeared and we are now entering the era of huge telephone screens.

The most popular Android phones in the market (including the Samsung Galaxy series, the HTC One and the Nokia Lumia), have all increased their screen sizes over the years.

Even Apple, that once said its 4” iPhone 5 screen was a “dazzling display of common sense”, has surrendered to this trend releasing the 4.7” iPhone 6 and the 5.5” iPhone Plus.

These new devices are called phablets; defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a “smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer”.

The increasing popularity of these devices indicates that bigger displays phones are going to be universal.

For those designing apps, responsive websites and mobile websites for hotels, it is a major aspect to consider when conceiving these products.

Here are 6 changes to consider in designing hotel mobile websites for huge mobile screens

1.  More space equals more design options

The first – and obvious – change is that designers will have more screen space to work with. Hotels will have more space to fit useful information about the property, whether it is text or images.

The new screen sizes will allow more variety in design, with strategically placed content, instead of template-alike design.

The larger screens allow the design to be less squeezed in the display, so the websites will have a clean and better look that will engage users with the hotel brand.

2.  Better booking experience

The bigger amount of space available in the new phone models will also impact on the booking experience by offering consumers a more ordered and noiseless experience.

On top of that, the increased screens allow the links to have a more efficient spacing, making them easier to click and providing a more functional user experience.

Also, as users will have more content displayed on the screen, the hotels will have the chance to show more special deals and additional services along the booking engine.

3.  Decreased thumb zone

A study by mobile expert Steve Hoober suggest that the most common way people hold their phones is one handed, using the thumb for most of the interactions. So, as the phones screen stretch up, the thumbzones – areas where it is easier to use the thumbs to tap the screen – decrease.

In terms of design it means that the fundamental information about the hotel and the links that the hotelier want customers to follow, such as “book now” buttons or promotion links should be within the thumbzone area.

Putting the important information on this area will make the booking process more impelling as the information is literally at the users’ fingertips.

4.  High quality images and graphics

Bigger sizes mean better resolutions! High definition displays are becoming even clearer, providing hotel websites with the opportunity to show an immersive look and feel of the property with crisper images and multimedia content.

This feature also requires special attention in double-checking images on current websites. Hotels with poor quality images on their websites can be exposed by bigger screen phones, that’s why is important to have updated images.

While having high-resolution images improve the website quality, it can also have big impacts on the loading time, which is one of major factors to page abandonment. In the hotel industry, a fast-loading site can determine if guests will book with one hotel or with its competitor.

So, when uploading photos on the hotel mobile website it’s important to find the perfect balance between the quality and the time the images take to load. It will certainly pay off in the future.

6.  Emphasis on text

Larger screens are great for those who like to read on the go, as users don’t have to put the phone to close to the face or adjust the text size all the time. And with tools like “Readers Mode” a website can be slimmed down to basic text and image.

When developing a responsive website or a mobile optimized website, designers will have to pay special attention to text in a way to set it precisely for readability in bigger screen phones.


Bigger screen phones cannot be treated as merely bigger versions of what came before. Their characteristics require changes in the way the websites are built.

With special emphasis on size and resolution, these new phones enable hotels to really engage users through improved websites.

Through some adjustments on user experience on bigger screen phones, hoteliers can take fully advantage of the new features of these devices, maximize their customers’ reach and increase bookings via mobile.

Pedro co-founded GuestCentric Systems in 2006, ringing extensive experience in the networking and software industries to his role as well as a proven track record of driving successful product development, marketing, sales and channel management efforts in the global market.

GuestCentric’s mission is to provide hoteliers with tools,  decision support data and performance indicators to make better business decisions and grow their online revenue, besides developing long-lasting relationships with guests.  The all-in-one integrated solution includes tools needed for sales and marketing success: booking engine, website, channels, social and mobile.

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