The four moments travel brands must connect with their mobile customers
Huge global smartphone adoption across the globe presents a massive opportunity for travel brands to reach consumers but where should they be focusing their efforts to maximise returns?
It is becoming increasingly critical to create inspiring content that will work on mobile as consumers are most likely to be using their mobile devices early on in travel research. As more detailed, late-stage research is undertaken, most consumers in major markets move over to larger screens on desktops and laptops. Consumers therefore need to be engaged with content and made aware of the travel options and offers available. This is the first stage of influencing the buyer journey and a key mobile phase.
2. Purchase decision.
Despite desktops and laptops being the main booking devices for travel purchases generally, some markets such as China are mobile-first throughout, and overall it is increasingly an omnichannel experience. Mobile is also growing globally. J.D. Power found that 25% of hotel online reservations were made using mobile in 2017, up from 14% in 2014. EyeforTravel's 2018 research similarly finds that the median share of mobile bookings reported by travel brands is between 10% to 19%, with 58% reporting more than 10% of bookings come through mobile. Customers now expect a relatively seamless transition and look for consistency across platforms as they move down the purchase funnel.
This purchase funnel is broadening, with new channels and communication services growing. Although mobile bookings are still largely through web browsers, leading to 45% of travel brands focusing on the mobile web compared to the 22.5% focusing on apps, brands will need to shift and widen their focus. For the modern traveler, alongside established SMS, web and email channels, social media services, such as WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are increasingly important. Not only can they now allow bookings but they are also great touch points to help the consumer get more information for their purchase journey and help them feel safe about their purchase. However, just 29% of travel brands currently have instant messaging capabilities and this will need to increase as consumer tastes change and travel brands chase low-cost distribution routes.
Improving a brand's ability to use these emerging mobile channels can also help to address the main issues that exist with mobile booking for consumers. Key among these is security. The channels mentioned above can be used for two-factor authentication (2FA), sending security codes to approve payment, access secure pages and complete bookings. This helps drive consumer confidence in making online purchases and therefore mobile conversion rates, which are far lower in the travel industry than for desktop and laptop visitors.
3. Throughout the trip itself.
Being able to reach consumers with key information as and when they need it is becoming a core competency for travel brands that want to drive a relationship and build loyalty with their customer. Among US consumers, 87% report that they find travel notifications useful and travel brands that can reach a traveler in a moment of crisis can win over a consumer for life.
Becoming the trusted source of information to the consumer as they travel is a way to wrest control of the traveler and their journey from third parties and reposition the travel brand at the core of the journey. Customer satisfaction rates are higher when they have been actively reached out to by a travel brand with relevant messaging or if they have downloaded a brand's app.
Travel brands and technology players need to provide channels that are truly global and not just accessible in the home country or continent of the consumer. The channel has to have the presence to reach the traveler throughout their journey, especially when disruptions happen, such as a delay or change in flight.
4. Post travel.
It is extremely important to get the voice of the traveler as feedback. One single bad review can influence future purchase decisions, and travel brands need to use technologies to interact and strike when they happen. Emotions run very high most recent to a bad experience and if you are able to address that then you can calm a situation and possibly turn a negative into a positive. Encourage positive reviews and social interaction post-travel to not only influence other buyers, but to also engender brand loyalty with your traveler.
Among travel brands that had automated messaging capabilities, 47% reported that they sent out satisfaction questionnaires and 37% sent out post-stay marketing. This shows that travel brands are awakening to the potential of using mobile in the post-travel period but they still have a long way to go to make the most out of this time.
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EyeforTravel is an online travel intelligence provider to hotels, airlines, online travel agents, cruise, car hire firms and more. Established in 1997 by Tim Gunstone, right at the inception of online travel, the group offers a diverse product portfolio including industry analysis, insights, research, webinars, reports and conferences. From major hotel brands to new startups, EyeforTravel helps its 80,000 strong customer base make better decisions, build better brands, close the most lucrative deals and ultimately sell more of their product.
For more information visit www.eyefortravel.com.