We’ve seen it coming for years, and it’s finally official – research has shown that mobile is now the preferred medium for visitors interacting with travel websites and booking holidays.
“The really big shift is how mobile complements the physical travel experience,” says VP of mobile at Adobe, Matt Asay. He’s spot on. Travellers are using their phones to research destinations, book hotels, find the best places to eat and get around, and travel brands must adapt if they hope to fully capture the mobile market.
We look at some of the established and emerging trends of mobile browsing in the travel sector.
More than half of visitors to travel websites are now using mobile devices, notably in the UK, USA, Brazil and India, while marketers are quickly realising the potential mobile holds in engaging with this ever-expanding audience.
“Nearly half of travellers say their mobile is the primary way of finding interesting spots, events, and restaurants while they are away. And 28% say they only select a hotel if it has free WiFi.” – EyeForTravel.
In a global study of some 9,200 travellers across 31 countries, 76% of participants said their mobile device was their number one travel accessory, while the Hotels.com mobile travel tracker revealed that 53% of under 30s globally had booked hotel accommodation on their smartphones.
Users go through four different stages when planning their holiday – I-want-to-get-away: dreaming moments; Time-to-make-a-plan: organising moments; Let’s-book-it: booking moments and; Can’t-wait-to-explore: experiencing moments.
Travel trends show that conversion rates at the booking stage have grown by 88% on mobile travel sites in the past year, and because travellers find what they’re looking for much faster, time spent per session on these websites is down by 7%.
“In a 15-minute walk with a smartphone, I did what used to take hours of research in front of a desktop computer. And the reason I was able to do this so seamlessly was because when I searched, brands were there to meet me in my moment of need,” – Lisa Gevelber, Think With Google.
In one real-world case study, one user had 419 “digital moments” while planning a trip to Disney World, including 34 searches, 380 web page visits, and five videos watched. 87% of these moments happened on mobile.
While mobile conversion rates are increasing rapidly, and mobile has fast become the medium of choice when booking and planning holidays, websites or apps with poor mobile design are scaring off potential customers.
“In the hospitality industry, mobile bookings have increased by 1700% just between 2011 and 2015. Since March 2016, Google had started prioritising websites in their search results, and non-friendly sites were actually penalised. Hotels cannot take this lightly anymore. It is now imperative for hoteliers to ensure that they have mobile friendly websites, or else they shall surely lose out to their competitors.” – Neha Arya, Hotelogix.
It’s imperative for hoteliers to enhance their online offerings in order to accommodate mobile browsing. Hotelogix references seven key areas that must be addressed.
Data has shown that access to multiple devices in the home drastically affects how consumers move through the travel purchase journey.
“The proliferation of mobile screens is having a dramatic impact on consumer behaviors. The majority of US households now own multiple connected devices providing them with a variety of options to interact with brands and services.” – Mediassociates Knowledge Center.
For the first time ever, the majority of travellers who book digitally will do so via mobile, representing a 22% year-on-year increase.
Are travel agents slowly becoming a thing of the past? In the UK, holidays booked through travel agents have fallen by 67% over the last 10 years, with travellers turning to the online world of apps and convenient booking platforms.
“Planning a trip can be a pain, but it’s 2017 and you have all the necessary tools to make your vacation a breeze. From the App Store to Google Play, we’ve rounded up some of thebest apps to keep stress to a bare minimum.” – Julian Chokkattu, Digital Trends.
There’s an incredible variety of mobile apps out there, and as more people in the travel industry start to adapt, we can expect much greater ease-of-use and convenience when it comes to researching and booking holidays online.
The big migration to mobile cannot be ignored, and if current statistics are anything to go by, it might not be long before mobile is completely dominant in the travel sphere. Hoteliers and roleplayers in the industry must adapt accordingly in 2017 and beyond.