Seven must-knows about mobile for travel industry decision makers

NB: This is a guest article by Pamela Whitby from EyeforTravel.

To say that mobile needs to be an essential part of any travel firm’s armour is, well, stating the obvious.

According to EyeforTravel’s most recent research, the proportion of consumers using mobile to book travel has been growing year on year to a quarter of all travellers this year.

However, the research also finds that what remains to be seen is how mobile can deliver fresh revenue streams.

Here we highlight some essential statistics and trends to emerge from the report – the culmination of interviews with over 30 industry players and surveys of 2,000 executives and 20,000 consumers – to establish whether your brand is ready to face the future.

1. Nearly two-thirds (63%) more travel suppliers saw mobile booking volumes increase between 2011 and 2013, yet half of consumers surveyed still prefer to research and book travel online using a PC

Could this be because many travel suppliers are not yet delivering a slick user-friendly mobile experience?

What is clear from the research is that having a mobile optimised site is absolutely business critical today. Some metasearch operators will not aggregate brands that lack this functionality.

And in fact, some intermediaries are using this as opportunity to bolster their own business.

For example, pure play hotel search engine Room 77 is offering a branded mobile booking page to its hotel partners that do not yet have a mobile optimised site.

The firm also has the CheckMate product, which enables hotel guests to check-in from their mobile phones.

2. Some 45.3% of travellers are willing to make a booking on a tablet up to a week before travel and 43.8% on a mobile

Yes we’re talking the last-minute mobile booking phenomenon. Interestingly though, it is intermediaries which are using social media and mobile to develop new deal structures that maximise their product ranges and target emerging segments like this.

For a brand like HotelTonight, mobile has allowed it to focus purely on the last-minute channel.

Meanwhile, Lastminute.com has shifted its deals-based strategy in line with mobile. Interestingly, some executives hold the view that mobile channel is no longer as price sensitive as it once was.

3. Email is not dead and is supported through the mobile channel

Many brands still find that email is an essential marketing tool and is becoming even more relevant with mobile.

As much as 38% of emails are opened on a mobile, compared to 33% on a desktop. But as with everything it depends on the market.

While email marketing is gaining traction in the US, UK, China and Brazil, in India just 17% of users access email on their mobile device.

4. Ancillary products represent a big opportunity for the mobile channel

By combining low payments, contact-less technology and impulse purchases based on location, there is potential for brands to deliver new revenue streams.

However, some executives interviewed in this report were tentative about whether mobile transactions really have potential to take off.

According to Hard Rock Café (one of many featured case studies) it will depend on educating consumers. In the first phase mobile payments are likely to be for smaller amounts such as room service.

EyeforTravel research also finds that a fifth of consumers would make a purchase of $200 via a mobile phone, increasing significantly in China to 43%.

Of course, serving new channels requires investment and the big challenge will be for travel executives in 2014 to use social media and mobile to add to revenues and not simply divert it.

Given the growing numbers of outbound travellers from BRIC nations, their mobile needs could be worth exploring.

5. Heavy mobile users have the most spending power

We often think of the mobile consumer as being from the younger generation but in fact older consumers (45+) are heavy users of mobile technology in both developed and BRIC nations.

In China, however, smartphone penetration is much higher among 16-24 year olds.

6. The multichannel environment means that social and mobile should never be thought of as two separate entities

Using social and mobile together is the most effective way to acquire data, drive engagement and growth. After all, consumers in the developed world spend about a quarter of their day on social networks.

So combining this with the immediacy of mobile is a powerful tool for brands.

In another report case study HotelTonight, a mobile-only OTA, reveals how it used a combination of mobile app install ads and Facebook offers, to ensure that its advertising spend was distributed among the most reliable prospects.

7. One size doesn’t fit all

While there are lessons to learn from other brands, the temptation to believe the growth in social and mobile is a worldwide phenomenon and that solutions can be applied with a broad brush, must be avoided.

Marketers must define their own individual integrated mobile-social media strategies and then focus on their own key markets.

Mobile payments may take off in the UK, for example, but this is very unlikely to happen at the same pace in Russia where the payment infrastructure customers cannot use their credit cards online.

NB: This is a guest article by Pamela Whitby from EyeforTravel.

NB2: Download more details in the latest report.

NB3: Mobile listen image via Shutterstock.

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Viewpoints

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.

 

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  1. Jenni

    Thanks Pam. Very interesting how mobile booking is on the increase but great new for us web based tour operators.
    I notice that EyeForTravel doesn’t have a Twitter account. 🙂

     
  2. Abhishek Singh

    Great article, Pamela. I have seen the EyeForTravel report used in this article but this is a great summary of the report from mobile perspective. Great job.

     
 
 

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