It simply can’t be stated enough: mobile travel apps have changed and are changing the way today’s traveler experiences travel and the ways travel companies reach their customers. Whether you’re talking about millennial, adventure, or experimental travelers, the impact of mobile travel apps is undeniable, and there’s no greater proof than the resources travel companies, suppliers, and travel agencies have dedicated to becoming more responsive, faster, and more agile to cater to the mobile needs of the modern traveler.
While the industry ramp-up in mobile app technology has been steady during the last five years, hotels and hotel booking suppliers have made a strong push during the last 18 months to create robust mobile app platforms aimed at offering customers the easiest, most convenient platform to research and complete bookings, while at the same time working with travel management companies and online travel agencies to create better visibility and enhanced transparency when it comes to inventory, transactions, invoicing, and other operational processes.
Other sectors of the travel industry are now beginning to follow the path forged by hotels in implementing mobile apps as a core driver of their online and customer relations strategy, and as such looking at the growth of mobile app technology by the numbers offers some staggering insights into just how pervasive and impactful this technology is now and its potential in the years to come.
65 - Billion. 65 billion. That’s the number of dollars mobile app bookings are suggested to generate throughout 2016, according to eMarketer, who released this study late last year. Compare that with about $115 million in desktop or more traditional online bookings and it’s easy to see why the travel industry is putting such an emphasis on mobile capability - especially given the same survey indicates the gap between mobile app and desktop booking is expected to shrink exponentially by 2019.
38.1 - Out of the nearly 45 million travelers who will book accommodations during 2016, a little more than 38 million - or right around 78 percent - will do so using a smartphone or equivalent mobile device. This statistic, culled from the same eMarketer survey, further highlights both the connected nature of today’s traveler and the need for travel websites and information that is accessible and responsive on mobile platforms especially for today’s millennials, a market segment that is perhaps the most tech savvy, knowledgeable, and convenience-driven share of the travel marketplace.
45 - According to MMGY Global’s 2016 Portrait of American Travelers survey, 45 percent of people who completed travel bookings in 2015 did so via some kind of mobile application. That number represents about a 9 percent increase from the year before and a 20 percent increase from two years ago. In addition, the survey found a 20 percent spike in the number of travelers who downloaded a travel app last year compared to the year before - a statistic that proves customers are at the very least exploring the possibility of mobile travel app booking if not already actively engaging in it.
24 - We discussed the importance of social media and its role in connecting travelers and helping them share travel experiences, and this trend is also a notable point in MMGY’s survey. According to the study, about 24 percent of respondents either shared or received information about destinations, travel agencies, or other components of the tourism landscape via social media. This represents a slight increase from the year before and highlights the need for travel companies to integrated social media functionality with their mobile apps to help capture customers in the places they most frequent - having a social media integration makes it easy for a customer to learn about a travel experience via Facebook and Twitter and then engage with said travel app to begin planning their own trip.
Numbers don’t lie - and it’s safe to say the numbers are in for how influential and meaningful mobile travel apps are and will continue to be in the short and long-term future. With so much of the travel-oriented population connected and online on nearly a 24/7 basis - to say nothing of the tech-minded populations of emerging travel markets like China, India, Eastern Europe, and others - it’s crucial for travel companies to see mobile app technology as a core part of their customer engagement and sales process rather than just a fad or trend.
And while these stats apply mainly to how travelers research and complete bookings, advances in other forms of mobile technology - digital boarding passes, tickets, invoices, and other virtual documentation - are sure to have just as big an impact on how travelers experience the world and how travel companies help them to do so. With most of travelers bringing their mobile devices on their trips, it’s now become crucial for travel companies to connect and engage with their clients during their entire journey.