“The mobile website is a big step forward for the business,” says Dave Ambrose, who heads Travelzoo’s mobile efforts.
He adds that the mobile website is the “base foundation” for the deal company’s mobile platforms, with Travelzoo applying lessons learned from its existing iPhone app and the testing of the just-on-the-market Android app to “reduce the friction” inherent in downloadable mobile apps.
Mobile apps, Ambrose says, are optimal “for doing a few things well and repeatable actions,” but the “base layer” has to be the mobile website.
In developing the mobile website, one challenge Travelzoo faced was to craft a design suitable for Android and iOS users wielding touch screens and as well as Blackberry owners manipulating screens and navigating with trackballs.
Travelzoo opted for large buttons, 44 pixels by 44 pixels, as recommended by Apple, Ambrose says.
The mobile site’s homepage lists Top 20 deals, Local Deals [the only category which can be purchased in the app], Entertainment Deals, Travel Deals and, in a departure from the tabs atop Travelzoo.com, Last Minute deals.
The inclusion of Last Minute deals on the homepage of the mobile website at http://m.travelzoo.com flows from usage patterns with the iPhone app, Ambrose says.
Some 60% of the users of Travelzoo’s iPhone app access Top 20 and other Travel Deals for hotels, cruises and vacation packages, for example, and a “substantial portion” of this 60% engages with the app to buy Last Minute deals, he says. About 40% of iPhone app users were purchasing Local Deals.
The mobile site also repurposes the design based on whether users are viewing in landscape or portrait mode, and changes desktop-oriented language from “Click here” to “Tap here.”
The mobile site debuted in the US, with other countries to follow “shortly thereafter,” Ambrose says.
Travelzoo’s new Android app, which supports Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich), features an action bar, enabling users to tap between Top 20, Travel Deals, Local Deals and My Vouchers.
And, Ambrose says the Android app has the capability to enable users to access Local Deals based on their detected location and to toggle to nearby deals in neighboring states, for instance.
Local Deals on the Android app can be purchased in four taps and an increasing number of users are using their smartphones to redeem the vouchers, he says.
A day after Groupon revealed that 25% of its mobile usersÂ in North America are purchasing Groupons via mobile devices, Ambrose says Travelzoo’s apps, with the iPhone app having been launched in August 2011, have attracted nearly 400,000 downloads.
Version 1.5 of the iPhone app, adding coverage of deals in Hong Kong and Australia, was recently introduced.