ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Three Mobile Opportunities to Grasp Today.
By Pamela Whitby
Tuesday, 2nd October 2012
From a targeted deal in the spa, to a beer in the bar or a mobile-optimised booking engine, the latest research from EyeforTravel shows that many in the travel industry are not yet taking full advantage of the opportunities in these increasingly mobile times. Pamela Whitby takes a look at what these could be.

Is the travel industry lagging the travel consumer? Judging by the latest Travel Consumer Report 2012/13 from EyeforTravel it seems this could be the case especially when it comes to delivering on the mobile front.

"Our research clearly shows that about half of US travel consumers want to be communicated with by mobile right across the travel supply chain. And by that we mean all the way from inspiration to planning and post trip by mobile," Tim Gunstone, EyeforTravel's managing director.

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And yet while nobody will argue that mobile decade is upon us - and a handful of travel companies are addressing this - most are still not seeing successful mobile engagement. "Our research shows that just 2% of travel intermediaries and 0.6% of suppliers feel mobile has been their biggest marketing success story in 2012 and similar results are seen across Western Europe," says Gunstone.

The good news is that the industry is aware that mobile optimisation is imperative, and that it is beginning to gain traction with consumers, but they are not yet clear about whether it can deliver an ROI.

For those willing to ride the mobile wave to its full potential we believe it can. "When consumer behaviour leaves the industry behind, huge opportunities abound," says Gunstone.

Here are three to consider right now.

Opportunity 1: Consumers are not only looking, they are booking and willing to spend their hard-earned cash on vacation using a mobile device.

EyeforTravel's research shows that increasing numbers of consumers are booking via mobile.In the US mobile bookings account for more than 20% and these figures look set to rise. If you are in any doubt consider what Expedia, a company that has grasped mobile with two hands, told EyeforTravel researchers:

"Mobile continues to grow and have a presence in the way consumers purchase their hotel rooms. While desktop remains the preferred method to research and book travel online, we are seeing mobile adoption continue to grow, with many of our brands' mobile web sites and apps gaining popularity among consumers, as measured by users and downloads. For suppliers, it was a similar level at 22%."

Maxim El Masri, Director, Global Strategic Accounts, Expedia

They're also willing to spend while on holiday. Of the consumers, surveyed (8,400 in five different markets), 65% said they would be willing to spend money on a mobile or smartphone while on vacation and 17% said they would spend up to any monetary value. This explodes the myth that consumers simply won't spend large sums on a mobile device: clearly some will. In fact nearly 25% of Americans would trust paying via mobile for any value of money.

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And yet despite all this EyeforTravel's June 2012 barometer found that 54% of intermediaries and 50% of suppliers said that they still did not have a mobile version of their website. So if you haven't already, now is the time to develop a slickly designed mobile-optimised website with a dedicated mobile booking engine. With rising mobile use there could also begrowing demand for user friendly, clutter-free apps but remember to fully understand your consumer before going down this more expensive route.

Opportunity 2: Get to know your customer and markets inside out

Still on the subject of understanding your customer: all customers are most certainly NOT equal. Over three months, researchers spoke to consumers in the US, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands.

In France around half of consumers surveyed said they would like to interact in every category via their smartphone. And since the research shows that mobile is still mainly for the last minute, if that's your target audience, or a category you'd like to grown, then it is time board that flight to Paris. Here is why: if you've got a last minute deal, the French are the nation to target as 32% will book their travel less than two weeks out.

Our French friends are definitely more impulsive than the Germans, Americans, the Brits or the Dutch.

Americans, on the other hand, are nearly four times more likely to book a hotel over a smartphone than the Dutch but when it comes to tablet use, The Netherlands is a market to watch. Wanting to sell a high-end luxury trip the Dutch traveller is your customer. As many as 18% of Dutch travellers (more than any others surveyed) are willing to buy a very expensive travel product via their mobile phone! But make sure your mobile site is up-to-the-mark The Dutch find mobile travel sites hardest to use but of the consumers surveyed are most willing to buy via mobile.

Opportunity 3: Think geo-location, think mobile CRM: It is time to up the game with innovative, timely and personal geo-location based services and offers

Most travel brands today know where the smartphone-toting geo-located customer is. Yet EyeforTravel's research shows that that 54% of intermediaries and 49% of suppliers have not used it geo-location based marketing at all over the previous three months! In the travel space, the airports have led the way here by getting consumers into different shops and restaurants to spend more before they board their flight; it's worth considering how they did it (watch out for upcoming stories in this area).

But more can be done and now is the time to revisit just how you can target your customer while they are on site. Think a mobile concierge, a deal in the spa, a free drink in the bar or a coupon for a time-restricted meal in the restaurant.

Often the biggest challenge is the biggest opportunity and how brands tap the vast amounts of data being gathered across multiple touch points is a growing challenge. Nobody has cracked yet. But using mobile CRM to understand not only where the customer is, but who the customer is, is something everybody is talking about.

One thing is clear: knowing how to deliver personalised, timely messages and relevant messages to consumers is travel's holy-grail. This is where opportunities abound and innovation is truly possible.

For more insights turn to EyeforTravel's recently published Travel Consumer Report 2012/13:

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