By now, we all know that mobile usage is on the rise. But, if you are part of the travel industry, mobile usage is a key component throughout the whole process from research and booking to in-destination guides. Get ready for a lot of stats that will hopefully convince you that being accessible from mobile devices is no longer optional…
First, are travelers really using mobile devices?
Yes! Nearly 50 million U.S. consumers will research travel on their smartphones and tablets in 2013, accounting for approximately 40% of all digital travel researchers, according to eMarketer. And, a recent report from JiWire found that mobile devices are heavily used for booking travel, with 52% of respondents claiming to have booked travel on a smartphone (23%) or tablet (29%) within the past 90 days.
How are travelers using mobile devices?
Here are the top mobile hotel-related activities travelers performed while planning a trip (data from mediabistro):
– Looked up hotel address or directions: 29%
– Researched things to do at the destination: 23%
– Read a hotel review: 22%
– Compared hotel prices and availability: 21%
– Booked a hotel room: 18%
– Received price alerts for hotels: 18%
Is your website mobile-friendly?
Knowing that users are not only researching from their mobile devices, but also BOOKING, is your site mobile friendly? Is it optimized for a variety of smartphones and tablets? Can users easily complete the booking process from beginning to end with no roadblocks? Is the booking process fast? 58% of mobile phone users expect mobile sites to load as quickly if not faster than desktop sites, and 40% would visit a competitor’s site instead due to a disappointing mobile experience (SMX Live). Mobile users are seeking immediate answers, so you will lose them to a competitor if you can’t provide what they are looking for on your mobile site.
Okay, so your website is mobile-friendly, but can mobile users even find it?
A study by comScore found that nearly two-thirds of local business searches for hotel and travel information were nonspecific suggesting that people looking for travel information on the local level are seeking suggestions rather than particular information about something they’re planning to do.
Compete, Inc. found that travelers are looking to trusted apps when it comes to making in-destination decisions, and that 43% of US smartphone users had travel apps, and 30% had two or more such apps.
This reinforces the need to be found on search (through local search engine optimization and local pay-per-click ads) and popular apps (Yelp, Urbanspoon, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, YouTube, etc.). Claiming and managing your listings on these platforms is critical to bringing in customers.
Not just for airlines and hotel properties!
All businesses that relate to travel and tourism need to make sure they have a mobile presence not just airlines and accommodations. Are you a brick-and-mortar shop that relies on tourism foot traffic? About 80% of all smartphone owners use their phones to research shopping-related activities before making a purchase at a retail location. Travelers are using their mobile devices to find shopping around them, so businesses without a mobile presence risk losing sales.
Are you a restaurant in a tourist area? 44% of travelers use their smartphone to research travel options while they’re traveling including where to eat (JiWire). Another study from SinglePlatform found that 81% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile app; 75% said they often choose a restaurant to dine at based on those search results. Making sure your restaurant stands out on mobile search and mobile apps is critical to bringing in diners.
Research is constantly reminding us that consumers are relying on their mobile devices to make decisions and make purchases, so you need to put your business in front of them. Integrating mobile into every aspect of your website and marketing strategy is key from providing a mobile-friendly website experience to mobile apps to capture their attention. One more stat before you go: eMarketer estimates that U.S. mobile travel sales will reach $13.6 billion by the end of this year and 25.5 million consumers will book on mobile. Make sure to grab your share!