Hoteliers should be prepared for a mobile-led future

A recent EyeForTravel white paper, Understanding the Travel Consumer’s Path to Purchase, focused on the how, where and why of the decisions people make before they book and as a result revealed that more than half of visitors to travel websites are now using mobile as part of their path to purchase . While this stat might seem high, we shouldn’t be surprised!

A Time magazine mobility poll found that 68% of people sleep with their phone within an arm’s reach right next to their bed each night, and 66% of those surveyed would actually forgo bringing their lunch to work if they had to choose between their phone and their lunch; safe to say, we have become a little bit device dependant. With the rise in mobile, the way we shop, research, connect with friends, move around, and ultimately, obtain whatever we need has been forever changed.  Armed with our mobile device, everyone is a quick tap away and we use them for just about everything from comparison-shopping, to getting directions to a restaurant, and also for making travel decisions and hotel bookings.

Alex Hadwick, Head of Research at EyeforTravel emphasised that “travel brands should be getting ready for a mobile-led future if they have not already done so”. Hoteliers should have a mobile presence and should make it as easy as possible for the guests to find the information that they are seeking, to make a decision, and ultimately make a reservation directly from their smart phone. If they are not able to accomplish this on your mobile site, they will do it on your competitor’s site. It’s as simple as that.

And it’s not just all about apps and mobile sites. While they are important factors on the path to purchase, they’re not necessarily where we spend our money. Phone calls are also an increasingly important part of the customer journey. Using mobile search ads with click-to-call buttons Google found that 70% of people searching from their smartphones call businesses directly from the search results and research by Invoca discovered that 65% of people prefer to contact businesses by phone, and that these calls last 4 minutes 52 seconds, on average, indicating a quality conversation.

Similarly, it’s also not just all about mobile! While we do love our devices and would be hard pushed to spend time apart from them, desktops and laptops remain the primary booking channels for many consumers.

So what does it all mean? Basically the paper notes travel brands cannot increase focus on one channel at the expense of another, as consumers are largely adopting a multichannel approach to researching and then purchasing travel, with different devices more important at different stages of the process. According to a study by Adobe, 79% of people switch devices during a single online activity!

So, while hoteliers should be prepared for a mobile led future, all devices still play a part in the path to purchase. With that in mind, hoteliers should have a consistent, efficient and painless as possible omni-channel strategy to increase conversions and direct bookings. “Consistency across channels improves conversion…consumers expect to be able to switch seamlessly between online, offline, and mobile…the [businesses] that easily enable this create a more direct path to purchase,” Jamie Gutfreund, CSO of The Intelligence Group, Los Angeles.

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