According to a recent study by research group eMarketer, about 51 percent of travelers who complete bookings in 2016 will do so via a mobile device - primarily a smartphone or tablet. This figure represents an 8 percent increase from the year prior and reinforces what many in the travel industry have been saying for years now: Mobile bookings have arrived as a major player in how customers book and experience travel.
The more you dig into the numbers, the more startling the picture becomes about just how impactful mobile bookings are and how crucial it is for travel companies to embrace this technology. For example, out of more than 48 million customers who book travel arrangements in the United States in 2016, it’s estimated roughly 38 million will use a smartphone to do so. This represents a massive customer base without taking into account the number of smartphone users on a global scale.
In today’s travel industry, the simple fact is this: If a travel company’s website isn’t mobile friendly or capable, customers will seek a travel company that is mobile compatible. This means travel companies without a robust mobile platform will miss out on large sections of a global customer pool and lack the advantages necessary succeed in a global marketplace.
To help travel companies equip themselves with the right mobile tools and mindset, here are a handful of do’s and don’t’s to help companies master mobile travel bookings.
Make Your Offers Mobile-Friendly. Using mobile capabilities to highlight or showcase a new travel package, offer, or deal is a great way to grab a customer’s attention and entice them to interact further with your mobile site. However, if offer boxes, graphics, and other visual elements are not designed for mobile responsiveness, they can be distracting to potential customers to the point where users simply abandon a mobile site in favor of a less cluttered competitor. Ensuring offers are responsive, mobile-friendly, and easy for users to navigate is crucial in turning a one-time visitor into a repeat customer.
Mobile Booking Should Be Easy. If a traveler has accessed your mobile site via their smartphone or tablet, odds are they’re ready to complete a booking or could easily be encouraged to do so. However, a poorly designed mobile site that makes booking harder rather than easier is often a key driver in booking abandonment. Mobile sites should be clean, easy to navigate, have a multitude of payment options, and incorporate smart search technology such as auto fill-in to help customers search for the booking they want as quickly as possible. Remember: For most customer, mobile booking means speed, ease, and convenience.
Incorporate Social Media. It’s no secret that so much of the buzz around today’s travel industry is driven by social media - travelers connect, share, and review destinations and bookings on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram just as much as on traditional travel review websites. Incorporating social media buttons, sharing settings, and other integrations helps customers share a travel company’s special offers, deals, and packages. This level of visibility can be an important value-added proposition for tourism companies in managing their online reputation and customer relations.
Make the Most of Mobile. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are powerful computing devices capable of functioning across multiple levels. As such, travel companies should leverage smart integrations such as mapping, location services, camera and photo capabilities, and other features to help customers get the most out of their mobile booking experience. Travelers select a travel company for the offers and destinations they provide, but they return for the level of customer service they receive. Making the most of mobile capabilities is crucial in retaining customers in both the mid and long-term.
In today’s hyper-connected travel industry, travel companies must adopt a mobile mindset in order to reach as many travelers as possible, especially as new and emerging markets come online across all corners of the globe. Travel industry experts believe the industry will have the greatest percentage of online sales across the entire e-commerce landscape, and travel companies failing to leverage mobile technology simply won’t be able to keep pace with their competitors.