Earlier this year, data revealed that 2012 tablet sales had increased even more than analysts anticipated. Up 75 percent in just one year (to more than 52 million units total) it is no surprise that 2013 is widely expected to be the first year the tablet will outsell the laptop. Pretty much every demographic is transitioning to the tablet, from the obvious tech-savvy affluents and millennials to the less obvious Baby Boomers and pre-school set. One group that is particularly partial to the tablet is the affluent traveler. Constantly on-the-go and bankrolled by a corporate card, these professionals use their iPad (mostly) to window-shop for clothes, purchase electronics, and arrange travel plans. Except when they can’t–most often due to a lack of a mobile-optimized site.
In our third-annual Digital IQ Index: Hotels study, released last week, we found that travelers are now more likely to book hotel rooms on tablets than on small-screen mobile devices. More than half of the 57 Hotel brands included in our study now have sites that provide step-by-step touch-optimized breadcrumb navigation, technology that allows users to revisit previous steps without having to restart the entire reservation process. The more sophisticated the mobile feature, however, the less likely Hotel brands have adopted it. Swipe browsing, for example, is only available on less than one-quarter of Hotel mobile sites. And not all swipe-browsing is created equal. Approximately 80 percent of Hotel brands use ill-sized calendars, and one in five uses cumbersome dropdown menus, with too-small fonts and limited functionality.
One standout in the tablet realm is Conrad Hotels & Resorts, whose app is the industry’s first and only service-enabled and completely integrated with all its properties’ hotel management systems. Travelers only need to download one app, one time; the Conrad Concierge interface allows guests to book a variety of services, from wakeup calls to room service to spa appointments, at any of the brands more than 20 hotels around the world. Requesting dozens of amenities in any one of the app’s 13 various languages, all without ever speaking to an employee–the epitome of luxury.