Trends: User-generated data, mobile ads & instant booking

Last month, industry tech leader Mary Meeker released her most recent annual Internet Trends Report – her first one was launched way back in 1995. Since then, as you might expect, there have been some considerable changes in the travel world as a result of online technologies, not to mention dramatic shifts in our day-to-day lives. To save you sifting through 200 slides from the report, guided us through her main findings – and here are three of the most important aspects that relate to the online travel industry...

User-generated data

Anyone involved in the online travel industry is aware of the importance of user-generated content and reviews by now. It didn't come as much of a surprise to find that Airbnb was used as the prime example of a business embracing user-generated content and utilising it to its full potential; during the past year, a staggering 14 million reviews have appeared on the Airbnb site.

Trip Advisor's shift towards selling hotels was made a reality by its leverage as a hotel reviews website. Now, it is looking into branching off in other ways, such as selling flights. How will reviews help travel companies in the future? Well, they say a lot about travellers' expectations, preferences and social connections, so personalisation as a result of these insights is considered a sure-fire way of providing a better travel experience.

Mobile ads

The mobile revolution really began in in the second half of the 2000s but, while people were quick to take to smartphones, advertising formats remained somewhat mobile-unfriendly for some time. These days, however, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google embrace mobile, with an aim to provide more "native" and seamless purchasing experiences. In the near future, travel companies will need to fine-tune their mobile booking systems in order to stay ahead of the game, making the process as easy and as stress-free as possible. As a result, mobile could become the go-to channel, not just for last-minute reservations, but for travel in general.

Instant booking

According to the report, users are after a "right here, right now" booking experience. The word 'mobile' is not just what travellers use to get online, but also an adjective that describes how they live their lives. Many people look to book travel whilst on-the-move, so instant booking has become paramount to the online travel industry. Location-driven instant-booking apps are likely to become more popular in the future, and we can expect to see more APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow inter-app connectivity and provide the user with a consistent, smooth experience.