13 Jan

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.

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 wanted 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. I would be delighted to publicise them on my blog.