Mobile Use By Travellers Extends Beyond Last-Minute Bookings

When it comes to booking online, everyone in their right mind would do it through their desktop, rather than a mobile device, right? Well, a recent study by PhoCusWright seems to confirm that. But only on the surface. Once you scratch that surface, it is revealed that mobile might be much more important for the travelling industry than most people think.

Having analysed some 2.5 billion online search and booking events from US travelling sites, the research company discovered that mobile bookings are quite disproportionately distributed towards the last-minute category. Travellers, who for some reason missed all opportunities to book before actually leaving, naturally rely on their smartphones to find accommodation. And that, in the words of PhoCusWright vice president Douglas Quinby, represents a huge opportunity for travel companies.

But it may not actually be last-minute bookings where the opportunity is. The research also shows that a significant amount of flight and hotel searches were made via mobile devices - all of them well ahead of travel. So, the planning part of the whole travelling experience - Quinby even calls it "day dreaming" - is increasingly migrating towards tablets and smartphones.

Makes sense. After all, people have their mobiles at their disposal all day long. And if they have a minute to spare for some travel research, it's their smartphone they are likely to use. According to the PhoCusWright VP, companies must also awaken to this fact and embrace travel discovery as well as spontaneity across all devices.

But that is easier said than done. So what are travelling companies actually supposed to do to tap in on the stream of mobile conversions? The best mobile practices that marketing and communications specialist Frederic Gonzalo outlines in an article for Business2Community provide some clues.

He starts with the obvious - to attract mobile users, you must have a mobile optimised website. This comes as no surprise, since most studies by different organisations place the amount of mobile traffic between a third and a half of all traffic - and who in their right mind would risk turning away so many people? Just keep in mind that booking still happens predominantly on desktop, so having a mobile-only website is actually counterproductive.

Once you have the website part covered, you can start doing some mobile marketing. Gonzalo notes that this is still an area, which has not reached its full potential as print continues to attract an unjustified amount of ad spend. But there are some good practices you can employ. Like sending promotional codes via text messages, or placing QR codes on digital outposts like websites, newsletters, apps and so on.

He also points out the fact that you can target promoted Facebook posts towards mobile users. Given that the overlapping of social and mobile use is so big they are almost synonymous with each other, that makes just perfect sense.