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How is Mobile changing Travel and Hospitality?

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According to research conducted by Google, the number users who research travel via their mobile devices will grow upto 51% this year, with the number of active Facebook user on mobile having increased to 500 million, already. . . .

According to research conducted by Google, the number users who research travel via their mobile devices will grow upto 51% this year, with the number of active Facebook user on mobile having increased to 500 million, already.

Fig 1: Mobile Travel Bookings Statistics in the United States

As indicated by the figure above, in the US alone there is a significant increase in the number of mobile travel bookings. But, before, we discuss in detail how these numbers are directly impacting the travel and hospitality industry; let’s take a look at some local statistics.

Fig 2: Smartphone penetration and Travel Search Statistics in Australia

The smartphone adoption rate in Australia is the highest in the world at 37%, with travel search via mobile at 29%.

As a reader, you might be wondering what all these numbers means. Let me simplify it – more travelers are using their mobiles and tablets over their laptops and PC’s to search for information. For a hotel, this means that your customers are increasingly using mobile devices to not just search for information but to make reservations and bookings.

Is YOUR hotel ready for this market place? Most hotels treat mobile websites as a watered down version of the original website. Being mobile savvy is not just about having a mobile friendly version of your website. It is about building smartphone travel applications that tap into the users’ location and social media presence, thus providing a total integrated solution for the user.

With Google having entered the travel domain, by acquiring ITA – travel and travel search is going to become increasingly personalised and mobile. Google’s overarching goal now is social personal search. What this means is peer recommendations and crowd sourcing are going to play a much bigger role in the ultimate sale/booking.  So start using location based social networks such as Foursquare, Google Latitude and Facebook Places to your advantage. Encourage your customers to check-in via a targeted location based social media campaign.

As a hotel – how do you keep up? If you want to succeed in the SoLoMo era (Social.Local.Mobile), you need to embrace local search and mobile fully! Travelers are now looking for a more individualised and personalised experience and your hotel’s accommodation packages need to cater to that. Furthermore, always remember that when it comes to revenue generations and bookings, you are not just competing with other hotels but also with online travel agents (OTA). This means you need to offer the customer a much better deal in order to secure a direct booking.

You might probably be wondering – you go mobile, then what? In mid 2011, the Intercontinental Group saw an increase in mobile revenues – from $1million to $10 million, in a period of twelve months. This is an indication, that mobile is becoming a direct revenue generation channel for hotels. So by going mobile, you are effectively creating yet another revenue generation platform for your hotel.

However, in order for you to stay competitive in the long run, you will need to offer flaexible rates. Most online travel agents have also gone mobile and customers are now savvy enough to find the best deal. With its short booking curve, you only have a very small window to close your sale via mobile; therefore you need to offer a price differentiation to secure the booking.

Taking all these factors into consideration – businesses, more specifically hotels have no choice – you have to go mobile! But, as part of your long-term plan don’t forget to also factor in tablets. If recent mobile direct booking sales are any indication, then tablets are set to revolutionise the travel and hospitality industry.  If the figure below is any indications, Australia is leading the way in smart phone usage during travel.

Fig 3: Business Travel and Leisure Travel Mobile Behaviour in Australia

So, if you are managing a hotel, its time you went mobile, because your competitors already have! But more importantly your customers are already there!

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook.  As the Social Media Business Consultant with over 30 years experience in the travel and hospitality industry, Logan is focused on guiding organisations through the four stages of social media for business – Education, Strategy, Implementation and On-going Management. If your business needs expert assistance on creating a custom Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation Strategy , contact us via logan@logannathan.com