ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Airbnb entices travelers with revamped mobile Web experience

Hospitality brand Airbnb is attempting to drive more mcommerce to its mobile Web site by enticing users with a responsive design and more user-friendly features for booking.

The revamped mobile Web experience, designed to look more attractive to guests, seeks to increase the amount of Web traffic Airbnb sees coming from smartphones, which is currently at about 20 percent. The clean redesign has taken away the search functions previously seen on the homepage and now features larger, full-bleed photographs to encourage users to browse listings and book via the mobile device.

“The sales will be there as long as the user experience is good,” said Tim Hajirakar, director of business development at Atimi, Vancouver, Canada. “There is already a trend for mobile sales increasing within the travel industry.

“So as we know consumers are becoming less hesitant to book using mobile, the key then is to make searching and booking easy via mobile platforms. I believe this can be done better via native apps, as it offers better performance and user experience, versus using a mobile Web. And if it’s been designed within the native app, it can track your view history.”

Turning browsing to booking
While Airbnb, an accommodation rental platform, already offers mobile applications, the mobile Web experience provides a larger database of places to stay and more photographs to help users picture themselves at a desired location. The new mobile Web site also aims to offer a streamlined experience for guests booking a rental on a desktop browser.

By offering a more visual introduction to the plethora of rental options worldwide, Airbnb hopes that many users’ browsing habits will turn into those of booking, especially as consumers travel during the winter season. More apps are turning to bigger images and less cluttered home pages to appeal to consumers and drive impulse buys.

EBay is one of the top brands leveraging this strategy with its recently revamped iPad app (see story). The app offers Pinterest-like features and image aggregators on a user-friendly interface, but allows purchasing capabilities, which social media site Pinterest does not.

Airbnb’s mobile Web booking conversions are still trailing behind those of desktops and apps, prompting the company to lure more users into becoming frequent visitors and buyers of its mobile marketplace.

Updated mobile listings
The mobile listings are now said to be easier to book following the site redesign. When a guest clicks on a potential rental space, he or she will be greeted with a large image highlighting its top features and an easy-to-skim detail legend.

As customers scroll down the page, they can discover more information about the space and its host. If it is of interest to them, they can press the “Request to Book” button at the bottom of the listing.

Airbnb hopes for the mobile Web experience to be akin to that of the desktop experience. This will not only provide a more responsive design for the consumer, but will also eliminate the need to develop new features or products exclusively for one medium over the other.

“More and more consumers are using mobile versus desktop,” Mr. Hajirakar said. “In fact, in the travel industry, desktop sales are shrinking while mobile sales are growing; this shows more people are getting comfortable booking travel using mobile apps.

“This trend is not likely to stop as the adaptation of smartphones and tablets continues to grow.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York