Travelers have an old adage that “half the journey is getting there.” While “getting there” was never intended to mean researching and booking a trip, it was a fitting statement for the tedious booking process before digital devices disrupted the travel industry.
Things have changed and planning a trip is faster and easier than ever. Booking across devices is the new norm, driven by the tech-savvy millennial generation.
Smartphones are becoming a more prominent booking device for travelers, and mobile apps continue to extend their reach as a preferred booking channel. This new customer journey has important implications for hotel, airline and other travel brands targeting savvy travelers across multiple digital devices.
Travel marketers must embrace mobile growth and develop a seamless cross-device and app strategy to reach consumers wherever they are on their booking journey. Read on for some helpful tactics to meet these travelers along their paths to purchase and encourage mobile conversions.
Invest in the small screen
Travelers are, by nature, on the move, so what better place to reach them than the devices in their pockets? Travel marketers must offer content and functionality that are fully adapted to smartphones and take advantage of the latest technology enhancements.
Features like swipe to book, quick-loading mobile pages, notification alerts and mobile ticketing can help draw in consumers by making it easy for them to research and plan trips on the go.
Criteo’s latest Travel Flash Report reveals that 19 percent of online travel bookings took place on smartphones in Q2 2016 — an increase from 14 percent in 2015.
Travel brands should continue to invest in smartphone-based platforms that make it easy for consumers to research, plan and book trips on small screens. They need to adapt mobile experiences to meet the needs of the influential, connected millennials behind this trend in order to be successful.
As this trend grows, travel marketers need to ensure they offer secure mobile transactions and a simple payment process so that consumers avoid roadblocks on their travel purchasing journey.
These best practices should be replicated across all devices – including smartphone, tablet and desktop – for a consistent and synchronized experience wherever the journey leads.
Make your mobile app part of the travel experience
White glove service for specific traveler requests was formerly a luxury reserved for consumers of high-end, expensive travel brands. Today, this kind of service is available to all travelers, no matter the price point, so long as they have access to an app store.
Dedicated mobile apps empower consumers with capabilities like choosing their hotel room, checking in early and adding additional services to their stays. Travel brands that have the foresight to focus on developing a feature-rich mobile app will benefit from an increase in downloads and bookings from on-the-go consumers.
Travel marketers who invested in their mobile apps saw constant growth in app bookings from 12 percent in 2014 to 54 percent in 2016. Brands with a mobile app presence that offers travelers differentiating deals and services are poised for success as smartphone use continues to expand.
Encourage spontaneity with time- and location-based offers
Several years ago, a last-minute cancellation or change of plans could leave a traveler stranded and frantically calling a travel agent to find a place to stay.
Today, the same scenario can be quickly resolved with a few swipes and taps of the thumb. Travel changes on the go are no longer a source of anxiety, but excitement, as the ease of booking spontaneous trips increases — and consumers are embracing this.
Criteo’s data indicates two in five U.S. travelers have made bookings on their smartphones while already traveling. Smart travel marketers can take advantage of this trend by making time and location central to their mobile booking experience.
Hotel marketers in particular should always be ready for unexpected guests: 51 percent of hotel bookings made within 24 hours before the check-in date, and 30 percent of next-day bookings, are made via smartphone.
Travel brands should highlight offers for nearby hotels with immediate vacancies across all mobile platforms, especially on smartphones, to be top-of-mind for travelers who are in-trip.
Smartphones are shifting closer to the center of the booking experience, making the trip-planning journey more smooth and seamless than ever before.
Travel marketers should invest in the smartphone booking experience, make time and location key to mobile booking, and build an intuitive and services-driven mobile app to successfully meet travelers at every stage of their journey.
Those that can master a mobile-first, cross-device strategy and reduce consumers’ time spent “getting there” will reap the benefits of happy travelers, wherever their final destination may be.
THE DATA: Criteo's Travel Flash Report 2016
EARLIER ON TNOOZ: In mobile travel booking, apps are hot, suppliers are not
NB: Image via Bigstock.