|Exit chat with Yilmaz: Mobile’s HUGE and Online's Confusing – So Take Care of the Basics First.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 27th November 2012
The biggest change that Ali Yilmaz, the former head of travel for Google South-east Asia has seen in his 19 months in the role, is how big mobile has become as a channel for travel.
In his presentation at the WIT Conference 2012 last month, Yilmaz shared statistics which showed:
When he started his travel role in Singapore, mobile was 5pc of travel queries; today it’s about 20%. “Japan has a big effect on that – mobile queries from Japan are affecting all regional statistics.”
- 23% of all queries in APAC came from mobile devices in Q2 2012 compared with Q2 2011
- 62% of all travel queries were on hotels and destinations
- mobile queries in the APAC travel category grew by an overall 141%
- and that by 2014, 30-43% of all travel queries would be on mobile
Yilmaz (right), who left Google and Singapore last month to return to Istanbul to head up a digital agency, SEM, said with the growth in mobile, one thing is clear for 2013 – travel companies have to do something about it.
“Whether it’s a mobile website or an app or anything that makes them look good or people can reach out to them on mobile, they have to have a rethink on mobile – if you see most of the bookings coming from last minute, for example, why do you put 170,000 hotels on your mobile app when maybe you can just show them 50 hotels. Tailor your content to the location of the person.”
The other challenge is how companies can monetize the mobile traffic. “If your traffic is growing on a smaller screen, you have to change business models – Facebook and Google’s ad business is created for bigger screens, not small screens,” he said.
Travel companies also have to think about how best to service customers via mobile, he said.
Generally, people search on mobile and transact on the web and companies have to get smart about cross-device tracking, he said.
What he’s personally seen is smartphones being used for more last minute and short-term hotel bookings while planning was still being done on desktop and handheld devices. “For airlines, there is a bigger possibility for mobile bookings,” he noted.
Marketers essentially have to rethink how they advertise. “When companies started advertising on mobile, they looked at it the same way as they did the web – banner ads and widgets which can annoy people. Kiip, “rewards in your pocket”, found a different way of advertising, they only thought of mobile.”