Mobile booking is here, but travel firms are missing out

Mobile is the new normal – 34 % of global ecommerce transactions across all industries are happening on mobile devices

NB: This is an analysis by James Smith, executive vice president for the Americas at Criteo.

In travel alone, one-third of the bookings in major countries around the world are now coming from mobile devices. With the rise of mobile bookings, clear winners and losers have surfaced, proving that there is real competition in the space and a strong thirst from consumers for a better experience.

Criteo also recently teamed up with Phocuswright to release The Mobile Effect white paper, which looks at the strongest performers in mobile  airline and hotel bookings. It is interesting to note the gap that remains between mobile winners and losers.

In other Criteo data, we see average booking values on mobile sites aligned with desktop and mobile apps, but conversion rates on mobile sites are half of those on desktop and mobile apps.

This suggests that travelers value convenience when booking, but are missing it from their mobile web experience.

After analyzing thousands of sites, we identified some major differences. While in the US the top quartile of travel merchants see 33% of bookings via mobile on average, the lowest quartile is stuck at about 10%.

In looking at conversion rates, there is a 110% uplift when travel sites are optimized for mobile.

The following are examples of non-optimized mobile experiences in the hotel booking space that travel firms need to get right. The lessons apply across all verticals.

  • Maps integration

Does your hotel’s mobile page have an easy to find, easy to activate map view? Maps on mobile is like wifi  in hotels – sure, you can operate a hotel without it, but when everyone else offers wifi, you need to as well.

For any user on the road, it is essential to know where things are located- from transportation to meeting locations, hotels and restaurants.

  • Photos

Due to the small form factor, mobile sites need large photos. Ideally, full-width, and with easy navigation controls. But, don’t mess with quality. Why? Because some devices have a crisp, high definition screen, which make low resolution images look lousy. With touch controls, tapping or sliding should be enough to move to the next photo. A crowded interface will only frustrate a user.

  • Facility filters

For travelers with special needs such as traveling with a pet or a swimming pool requirement, having to browse and read individual hotel descriptions to find the right hotel can be a pain.

That pain is intensified on a small device, so a lack of filters can make the user experience challenging. While some merchants have an easy to find and navigate filter area, others do not.

As a hotel business, filters will help you keep travelers browsing and booking on your site.

  • Room rates

When optimizing your site for mobile, simplifying and removing superfluous information is a must, but some detail is required. It is not enough to list rate names and related prices. It is important to explain why room names and rates are different.

What is the difference between a “Deluxe Double” and “Superior Double” room? Why are they the same amount? Or, why are they not, and what makes one more costly? Does the rate include any services? Is it refundable?

Room rates need to come with an overview to help the consumer make up his or her mind easily.

  • Payment

Much has been written about shopping basket abandonment and removing friction from the last step, yet we continue to see lengthy payment pages with unnecessary questions. Date of birth? Home and work phone number? Email and then “confirm email”? And, worse yet, in case of error: “Transaction rejected, please check your entries.”

Unfortunately, some payment pages continue to make it exceptionally difficult for a traveler to complete a booking.

If you’re a travel merchant and you’re not mobile ready, you’re missing out. For the consumer, booking travel has to be immediate and frictionless.

For more data and information on global mobile usage, download Criteo’s Q2 2015 State of Mobile Commerce Report.


NB: This is an analysis by James Smith, executive vice president for the Americas at Criteo. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.


NB2: Mobile image by Shutterstock


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    In this article I fear there are broad brush statements which can and will lead to incorrect conclusions. There are several major assumptions in this paper which are erroneous.

    Firstly web behaviour and mobile behaviour are radically different. Anyone making the broad brush assumption that mobile and web are identical need to have their heads examined. (By someone qualified!)
    Secondly form factor DOES matter. I cannot book some complicated transactions on mobile at all.
    Thirdly Application concurrency is critical. The standard capability of booking multiple separate components of a transaction demand a full on web browser interface. Swapping between apps when working on a specific single holistic trip is a very bad user experience. As the vast majority of Trip purchases include more than a single service – the ability to switch between services (mobile web or apps or both) is critical.
    Fourthly to lump everything on “mobile” is far too facile a statement. Mobile is very different. Can one book on an Apple Watch? Would you? How many will?

    Today I book many of my services for a trip as I always have done. Via different channels and different interfaces. I have no expectation that i will ever have an ability to book everything in one go in the same place in a manner in which the utopia of using ONLY mobile exists. Thus to imply that mobile can totally or even significantly replace web is either erroneous or somewhat naive. As we have seen from the data the user behaviour profiles of web and mobile are very different. We need to take into consideration that they are complementary not competitive service access mechanisms.
    What we need are far better UX and better integration and ease of use. That is not something individual players are providing nor is it something that omnibus players are providing.

    To chide the world into deploying more mobile services without the context of these issues is not helpful. Let’s try and see if we can get better and better at what we do. But expecting Mobile to replace the web? Nope not going to happen. Its not about being a replacement – it is about providing services to the customer at all times.



Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel