Travel and tourism is a trillion dollar industry that is continuing to grow and change. The largest change we have seen is the shift to mobile. Since mobile has become an everyday necessity, it is altering the way people travel. From researching and booking, to the actual traveling itself, travelers now expect everything to be mobile friendly. This is transforming the way brands need to interact with travelers in order to meet their needs.
The growing demand to do everything on mobile has forced travel brands to make mobile friendly services available in-destination. Consumers today want to be able to perform any activity at the most convenient time for them. In response, travel brands need to make travel accommodations more mobile-friendly; offering mobile booking functions, mobile check-in, and mobile itineraries. Our travel research showed 100% of people want the opportunity to order services from their room, directly from their mobile device. Some brands, like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, have caught on early, offering mobile hotel check-in, and tablet-friendly room service options, like ordering dry cleaning, wake up calls, and food delivery. Travelers also show a growing interest in digital maps of the hotel. When they are picking their rooms, they want the ability to see where there room is located, and even have a 360 degree view of the room before selecting. With mobile expectations continuing to grow, brands will continually need to alter their business offerings to meet customer expectations.
Increasingly, travelers are looking for more personalized experiences on mobile. During our research, 80% of respondents indicated they preferred using brands that personalized their travel experience. Whether it be pre-populating information during the research and booking phase, or using search history to offer suggestions while at the destination, travelers view personalization as a sign of customer commitment. The majority of respondents also expressed interest in receiving emails before and after their trip. For example, travelers expressed interest in receiving emails with weather reports and advisories to help them plan accordingly. Travelers also showed interest in emails with convenient transportation options to help expedite their trip from the airport. Nonetheless, without offering travelers what they want, travel brands are missing the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their travelers. Current mobile options are not enough, and a lack of consumer-centered offers could suggest minimal commitment to the traveler.
As mobile becomes a minimum expectation, competition between online travel agencies and hotel or airline travel brands in increasing. Our research showed that 80% of travelers still prefer to book on OTA’s because of price and convenience. However, of those 80%, 30% believe OTAs offer a lower quality travel experience, as opposed to if they were to book directly on brand’s site. Travel brands can compete effectively with OTAs by offering additional benefits such as free changes and upgrades for those who book directly. Travel brands can create a real advantage by offering superior service and benefits that build and maintain guest relationships.
Strategic impact of Mobile
Consumers rely on mobile to make life easier and provide instant access to information and services. The shift to mobile is playing out in every sector of life, including travel. Travel brands can respond effectively to this shift by offering more mobile friendly in-destination resources, increasing personalization, and creating clear value for travelers who book direct. The benefits of delivering an experience that travelers value because it meets their expectation are obvious: more bookings, increased guest loyalty and brand differentiation based on getting mobile right.