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Hotwire exec: Responsive design is a challenge organizationally

PALM DESERT, CA ? A Hotwire executive at eTail West said that although responsive design offers opportunities from a technology standpoint, there are challenges within an organization in developing a site that renders the same across all screens.

The ?Reviewing New and Innovative Mobile Technologies That Increase Sales and Drive Engagement? session included executives from Dell, Hotwire, Mad Mobile and Storkie. The session was moderated by Corey Capasso, president of Nomi Technologies, New York.

?We?ve had a little bit of a different experience in that our mobile customers don?t want everything that is on the desktop site,? said Melissa Matross, head of mobile and senior director of product at Hotwire, San Francisco. ?And we have really tried to step away from that and start fresh with a mobile-first approach and cut way back.

?But with regards to the responsive design, I think tablets align more closely with our desktop site, where we want to keep more of the features,? she said.

?While I think from a technology perspective it?s the right thing to do, organizationally I think it is very challenging because we have different teams working in line, you have to make sure that it works for both desktop and tablet, and all of the organizational stuff that goes along with that can be challenging.?

Mobile bookings
Hotwire has heavily leaned on mobile Web, per Ms. Matross.

Mobile Web allowed the company to hire more easily since native can be more difficult to hire for. Additionally, the company was able to leverage its existing marketing solutions with a mobile site to drive traffic.

The company started its mobile Web efforts with a vendor. Now Hotwire has an in-house team, which improved the speed of the site, in addition to improving conversion by 20 percent.

After rolling out a mobile site, Hotwire launched a mobile application that was built on its mobile Web learnings about what types of features consumers are looking for to create a more custom mobile experience.

The company also narrowed down its app to focus solely on its hotel product, which is one of the services that is most used by mobile consumers. Compared to the company?s mobile site, the app is used for retention and acquisition.

Approximately 80 percent of Hotwire?s mobile bookings are made for the reservations on the same day. Therefore, the dates and location for bookings are defaulted to a user?s current time and GPS when they most likely are looking to make a transaction on the spot.

The goal behind Hotwire?s use of mobile is to move the consumers as quickly as possible through the booking process.

Double purpose
According to Brandon McGee, director of global mobile at Dell, Round Rock, TX, is split evenly to serve both consumers and small business owners.

Dell uses its online data and information to evaluate which pages, products and services customers are most interested in to prioritize initiatives to figure out where the company can get the most return on its investments.

Although there are challenges around responsive design, the technology brings more functionality to mobile sites, which consumers appreciate if they are already familiar with a brand?s desktop site, per Mr. McGee.

Dell has marketing-specific mobile sites ? such as for Black Friday ? that drive mobile traffic. Redirects that hit and optimized email are other ways that the brand drives mobile traffic.

Retailers are constantly trying to track how consumers shop across multiple devices and mediums.

Dell ran a test that used in-home Wi-Fi to follow users across tablets, smartphones and PCs. By looking at an IP address, the brand ran content across the devices to look at conversion.

For example, Dell looked at the conversion when an ad was only showed across one of the three devices. As ads were shown across multiple devices, the conversion rate went up.

?It also helps me because when I am talking about business cases and talking about data with my senior managers, now I can say, ?Here?s the hard dollars that we closed through this channel,?? Mr. McGee said.

?But then I can also talk about the dollars that I am influencing that maybe used the smartphone during the process but ultimately closed on the PC,? he said.

Although the test?s results could not be measured if a consumer acted outside of the Wi-Fi zone, it helps to show mobile?s influence on other channels, per Mr. McGee.

Conversion is not the only metric that brands need to be looking at. Conversion is a factor, but success is also about how devices are used in tandem to drive sales.

Shop on mobile
According to Greg Schmitzer, CEO of Mad Mobile, Tampa, FL, consumers are using mobile to do everything from researching, finding nearby stores and making transactions.

Context is key to not only understanding how tablets and smartphones are different, but how they also tie together.

For example, in-store apps can help store associates while on the sales floor to recommend products and drive sales as well as fight showrooming from retailers such as Amazon.

For acquisition, mobile search targeting can be effective in gaining valuable consumers for a brand. Consumers who are searching for specific products and product categories can be driven to mobile landing pages that claim to convert well.

?Mobile search traffic is extremely valuable because people are searching for specific products and they are at the end of the purchase path in terms of, ?Hey I know I want this? ? it is just a matter of where I am going to find it,? Mr. Schmitzer said.

Final Take
Melissa Matross is head of mobile and senior director of product at Hotwire, San Francisco