With the rise of mobile devices, the online travel industry needs to find a way to reach consumers through this channel and offer them the best possible experience by allowing them to plan their trip, book flights and hotels and easily complete transactions on small screens.
As travellers are increasingly researching, booking, buying and reviewing their travel on mobile, the industry needs to adjust, says Chris Minas, founder of Nimbletank, in an article for Travolution. Technology is enhancing people's lives and experiences and to be able to stay in touch with today's almost constantly connected traveller, travel brands need to dedicate time and resources to create the best possible experience.
Yet only a few travel companies have fully embraced mobile. According to a recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), over half of the top 50 British travel companies have not optimised their website to be mobile-friendly. But what's more concerning is the fact that about a third of travel businesses do not have any mobile presence. This shows that travel brands are lagging behind in providing consumers with the functionality they seek via mobile devices.
In other research, the SITA Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends poll from last year revealed that just 5% of global travellers make bookings and check-in on their mobile phones, while 78% said that unfriendly websites and with limited functionality deter them from using travel-related sites on mobile.
With the increasing use of mobile devices as a travel research tool, travel brands need to adapt and consider changing the old-fashioned browse-and-book model, shifting to a more engaging research and booking experience that would provide useful tools and recommendations to travellers both before they depart and when they are at their destination.
Finally, mobile adaption needs to be relevant. There are some areas of the industry where mobile is more widely used than in others, with the same-day hotel booking segment one of the most successful ones. But online travel brands should keep in mind that, although last-minute bookings currently account for more than 50% of sales on mobile, the number of pre-planned holidays booked on mobile devices is climbing. The travel sector is definitely moving the right way when it comes to wider mobile adoption, but still there is an indication that only the most progressive brands are making efforts to make their user experience multi-device friendly.