GINA BAILLIE EXPLAINS WHY IT’S VITAL YOUTH BUSINESSES GET TO GRIPS WITH MOBILE
Whilst it may be accepted that mobile and travel go hand in hand, Gina Baillie – EyeforTravel’s General Manager – encouraged WYSTC delegates to wise up to the importance of incorporating into their overall strategy.
“For a long while research has shown that travel brands are lagging behind in mobile investment as they perceive tablets and desktops are used more as last minute transactional platforms. However, it’s a myth that mobiles are just used for last-minute booking – our research actually shows that people are using them much more as a reference device as much as three months out.”
Gina cited the example of HotelTonight which has changed its tack as consumer behaviour shifts by adding a new ‘Look Ahead’ feature.
The importance of location tracking
Essentially, Gina explained, it’s vital to know where customers are at a point in time to know what information to best put in front of them.
“When it comes to research it really depends what device consumers are using at any particular moment in time. If, for example, they’re on their way home from work then they’ll use their mobile, whereas if they’re at work they may be more likely to use their main computer.
“Companies need to know whether their customers are out and about or at home when they interact, such as whether they have just landed at their destination. This knowledge enables you to provide local content and be useful as a brand, whether you’re providing a map or sending an offer based on local restaurants, which ultimately drives loyalty.”
However, Gina reiterated the importance of ensuring sites are mobile-friendly, explaining that if someone can’t find a brand when they’re on their mobile or have a poor experience they will eliminate the company from their subsequent searches. This means that when they are back on their desktop, where they are more likely to convert, a business will no longer be part of the process.
“This presents a huge challenge for brands as there is not currently an easy way to track which device someone is on. It’s also a struggle to understand the research process fully as someone may book via their desktop computer but could well have spent four hours researching on their mobile device to get to that point.”
When it comes to tracking the booking process EyeforTravel have found customers don’t actually mind the systems that businesses put in place as much as you may have assumed. “People don’t mind being prompted to sign in or asked if they want to email their booking progress to themselves if they’ve got quite far in the booking process. Companies should certainly consider advanced tracking technology to understand their customers’ behaviour better.”
Gina explained that a symptom of having devices on them all the time is that young travellers may expect a response from a brand 24/7 and to be serviced out of traditional hours.
“Compared to Baby Boomers, millennials have very different priorities. Whereas Baby Boomers look at a brand’s long-standing history to help secure their trust, millennials are more interested in the brand’s personality.
“Speed of service is very important to millennial customers, who want to be able to move seamlessly across devices. They also like to share their experiences more so my advice to businesses would be to prompt that sharing process to inspire others to travel. Social media and mobiles go hand in hand.”
How mobile will shape the future of travel
On the topic of how the travel industry compares with the consumer industry as a whole, 80% of OTAs, meanwhile, cited mobile as business critical to their users.
Gina added: “I had originally thought travel might be behind retail but I’m no longer sure. From our research we’re seeing that 68.3% of travel brands plan to increase their mobile investment in the next three months, compared to 53% last year, so I’m really pleased to see things are moving in the right direction.”
Agreeing with the WYSTC consensus that wearable technology is one of the most exciting upcoming trends, Gina said “It is still quite intrusive to have something on your face and I don’t think the consumer base is there for Google Glass but for me the fact that the Moto Smart Watch sold out within three hours shows that this technology will become increasingly popular.”
Ultimately Gina believes that mobiles will help take the stress out of travelling.
“Why does everyone need to stop as soon as they arrive in an airport to look up and check the board to know where to go next? This is exactly the kind of information that could be sent intuitively to their phones, to improve airport flow and reduce stress levels.
“I believe mobile technology has a huge potential to take the hassle out of travel as information comes directly to the palm of your hand.”