Keynote Systems’ Mobile Travel & Hospitality Index for September shows the importance of mobile web performance for travel-related sites, as consumers increasingly book and check travel arrangements from their smartphones.
When visiting a travel website, the majority of end users generally have a common goal, which is to research travel options for flights, hotels, rental cars with various dates, time, locations and prices. When accessing a travel site via a mobile device, the goals are pretty much the same.
Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems, stresses the importance that the home page for any travel site loads fast and reliably. He says it is important for a travel site to have a speedy mobile site so that end users don’t switch to a competitor’s site because of slow page response. But it’s not just the home page that’s important but a host of factors.
Two main factors are the number of page objects and total bytes to download the entire page. Based on the September data of the Keynote Travel and Hospitability index, Fairmont had the least number of page objects averaging 6.25 objects. MGM Grand had the most number of page objects with an average of 51.
The average number of objects across all 30 travel sites included in the Index was 19.4. Fully 13 out of 30 sites have less than 15 page objects on average. The higher number of page objects means the higher number of network round trips it takes to download the entire page (assuming it is a first time visit and that no object was previously cached).
Also, based on the September data, Fairmont had the lightest page size averaging 11.3 Kbytes; Avis had the heaviest page size averaging 484 Kbytes. The average number of bytes downloaded was 143.4 Kbytes and 16 out of 30 sites took less than an average of 100 Kbytes to download (with no cached content).
On a final note, Ng said there is one best practice that is often overlooked and that is to ensure the site actually redirects to a mobile optimized page for mobile users instead of returning the full Web page version. Most sites, he said, use handset detection mechanisms to determine whether to redirect to the mobile site. It is not uncommon to ensure a site works and looks great on the iPhone because of its popularity, but many companies overlook the need to test the site on other mobile platforms. Although most new smartphones are capable of handling a full Web page, user experience will be much less appealing because of slow page load times and navigation difficulties.
See below for Keynote’s full Index of travel website performance during the month of September: