Searching for a holiday on your mobile
As sad as it may seem, one of my favourite parts of going on holiday is the planning stage. I love getting excited about all the different options available.
However, recently my pre-holiday excitement quickly faded when I was constantly experiencing bad UX with accommodation providers’ websites on a mobile.
Searching for a holiday home shouldn’t be this hard!
I’m looking for a group holiday in May half term 2019, 4 adults and 4 children, in Dorset. Simple.
We’re flexible on location but not date. You’d think it would be a pretty straightforward, frictionless experience. After all, more searches of this type are now carried out on a mobile than a desktop so surely it would be easy. Sadly not.
There are 4 vital ingredients to being able to successfully search for a holiday online:
1. The date you’re going
2. How many people
3. A general location
Within a couple of minutes of searching, I was having a bad user experience.
My primary bugbear – trying to enter arrival and departure dates. On different sites, using various calendar plug-ins, there are multiple UX issues that I experienced. Here are just a few.
For example, on this site, when you click on the arrival date to open the calendar, it’s also a free text field so the keyboard appears, and you can no longer see the dates to select from. When you try and click back on the box to close the keyboard, the calendar also disappears. Very frustrating.
I then tried to enter the departure date, which has been pre-populated with the same date I’m arriving (even though they have a minimum length of stay). I did eventually manage to get through to some properties but then there were no costs listed – you must contact the owner and wait for a response.
The calendar below would only let me select a group size of 2-10 so most of the properties wouldn’t be suitable for my group size – which wasn’t a problem as I couldn’t find any properties on my selected date anyway (!) and there were no alternative options presented.
However, all is not lost - the best user experience, wasn’t supplied by Airbnb or Booking.com – it was by homeaway.co.uk. They use a simple, very user-friendly calendar. You can scroll through the months, rather than using the tiny arrows, you can select your arrival and departure date from the same screen and it seamlessly takes you through to the full listing of suitable properties. It just took me a while to find them!
The travel industry is buoyant, yet very competitive. A good customer experience helps to distinguish one brand from another, and with the rise of sophisticated technologies and intuitive web design, UX design has never mattered more. And given the increase of screenless user experiences, maybe, at some point, voice-search will fully replace the good-old graphical user interfaces (GUIs).
And don't get me wrong - I do enjoy using Airbnb, they provide useful personalisation and a nice UX - but I do prefer using their app on a mobile, rather than their website!