A recent report from the travel industry advocacy group EyeforTravel asked 183 respondents across all omareas of the global travel industry landscape about what facet of the travel industry keeps them up most nights. It’s an interesting question, especially given how volatile and variant-rich today’s travel industry can be taken into account the sheer volume of suppliers and network partners. Even so, the overwhelming response to this question was the need to stay ahead of technology and keep pace with the development of new digital platforms or methods of doing business. And this is especially true for mobile bookings and ability of today’s traveler to source, research, and complete bookings on devices no bigger than the palm of their hand.
In fact, EyeforTravel’s May 2016 survey and resulting report identified a number of interesting statistics regarding the continued development of mobile technology that can be applied to travel agents, tour operators, product and service providers, and even consumers.
While much of the current discussion today’s travel industry surrounds mobile technology, the numbers and figures behind the rise and proliferation of mobile tell a much more compelling story about where this technology is now and where it might be headed in the future.
With this in mind, let’s examine 5 surprising statistics behind the rise of mobile bookings and their significance for major players in today’s travel industry.
Total number of mobile bookings in 2016: 148.3 million
That’s right: Last year saw 148 million travel bookings via mobile capability. Whether through mobile apps or websites, it’s clear the ability to book travel accommodations via a mobile platform is no longer a fad - rather, it’s a core driver in how customers interact with travel professionals and how companies must leverage their resources to reach new customers. What’s perhaps even more staggering is many travel industry analysts expect the number of mobile bookings to increase by sizable percentages in 2017 and beyond, especially given the emergence of new markets in Europe and Asia.
65 percent of hotel reservations were completed via a smartphone
While this figure it perhaps not so revealing for those tracking the rise of bookings via smartphones, these hotel bookings were completed on a same-day basis. This means the mentality and buying behavior of today’s traveler has shifted significantly as a result of mobile bookings. No longer are travelers booking hotel accommodations days or weeks in advance. Rather, the flexibility and agility of mobile booking apps allow travelers to complete major bookings in the moment, which means travel companies must operate on a more lean, streamlined basis to meet the real-time needs and demands of their customers.
75 percent of respondents said mobile is their biggest focus in 2017
What’s interesting about this figure is the number of players in the travel industry who still, even in 2017, identify mobile capability as their biggest focus or pain point in their annual strategic planning. This goes to show the constantly shifting nature of mobile booking capacity and the need for travel companies to continual reengineer or update their mobile capabilities in order to keep pace with a rapidly-advancing technology. Simply put: Implementing a mobile-based strategy is not enough - the real work with mobile is adapting that strategy to the changing needs or demands of the customer and industry.
What to watch for? 74 percent of respondents identified customer loyalty
For travel companies, the ability to engage customers to create customer loyalty and turn one-time customers into repeat customers is a critical value proposition as more and more players enter an already crowded field of participants. As such, 74 percent of respondents said engaging customers and creating customer or brand loyalty via mobile booking platforms is a significant element of their overall content and marketing strategy. Whether through direct messaging platforms, social media, or targeted offers and promotions, creating a mobile dialogue with customers is essential for travel companies in forging lasting business relationships.
Mobile and digital budgets are set to increase 20 percent
44 percent of respondents to EyeforTravel’s survey indicated their mobile and digital platform budgets are set to increase by at least 20 percent during the next two to three years. While it’s unknown right now if this increase will help companies keep pace with the developments and advances in mobile technology, it’s clear travel companies are leaving very little to chance when it comes to ensuring their mobile platforms are a viable part of their overall strategic planning processes, especially with the emergence of new and developing markets and customer segments.
While EyeforTravel’s recent survey doesn’t tell the entire story of how mobile bookings have changed and are poised to change the travel industry in the coming years, it does provide an interesting window into how industry players view mobile bookings and their importance in engaging with customers, positioning products and services, and setting themselves up for long-term growth and profitability.