Wednesday, 12 September 2012

How Do Travel Consumers Really Want to Engage With Your Brand via Mobile?

By Gina Baillie

Did you know that French travel consumers are 15% more likely to book via a tablet than American consumers?  Or that Americans are nearly 4 times more likely to book a hotel over a smartphone than the Dutch?

No, nor did I.  When examining how to develop a mobile strategy we tend to bundle customers into ‘Europe’ and ‘North America’ when in actual fact there are vast differences between and within these continents.

Most travel brands base their research and investment decisions on mobile penetration levels and broad sweeping mobile trends without actually having an in-depth understanding of what their customer wants.

I’ve just finished reading EyeforTravel’s new Travel Consumer Report 2012-13 in which 8,400 online travel consumers from 5 different countries were quizzed on their recent travel purchases and attitudes towards web, mobile, social media and travel brands.

The statistics which particularly stood out for me were the ones regarding mobile and tablet usage and attitudes. 

We all know that more and more customers are using mobile to access travel websites and information but we often lack information or skip over what the customer actually wants to do whilst they are on your mobile site or once they have downloaded your app. 

The report found that a whopping 50% of Dutch respondents would not use a smartphone to book travel compared with 40% of Brits and French, 35% of Americans, and 29% of Germans.   So what do they want to do?

For the Dutch using as a ticket/boarding pass was a very preferable use of a smartphone for travel, as was having a map function.   For the Brits, Americans and Germans, map functions, access to information on local activities and using as a ticket/boarding pass were the most popular reasons to use a smartphone whereas in France, using smartphones to access hotel and restaurant reviews along with the map and check in functions were most popular.

What are consumers not so willing to do on a smartphone?  Researching travel products via smartphones was the least popular travel related use of a smartphone for all countries surveyed along with actually making a travel purchase via a mobile device.

But what about the 65% of US and 71% of German customers who did say that they were willing to purchase via mobile?   Well, the willingness to purchase via a mobile is clearly still there and shouldn’t be ignored as it is likely to increase.

In terms of the travel products which consumers wished to buy via mobile, there was a roughly equal spread between countries but for Americans, booking a cruise was the least popular product to purchase via a smartphone.   This varied significantly when using tablets whereby the vacation package was the favourite travel product to purchase via a tablet in all 5 countries surveyed.

The two most popular price points for purchasing travel products via a smartphone in the US were products with a value of $201 - $500 (16% of respondents) and perhaps surprisingly products of any monetary value (17%). This same pattern was mimicked in Germany.

So what can we learn from this?  If you are planning your mobile strategy you should consider:-
  •          The geographical location of your customer and the dominant mobile behaviours and attitudes of consumers in that country.  For example, given that the Dutch are the most reluctant to book via a smartphone you might want to give Dutch customers a number to call rather than spending huge amounts on complex booking systems
  •          Your product type and value
  •         The specific features of your mobile website/app -  consider that in most countries map functions, access to information on local activities as well as check in and boarding functions were key winners
  •          Don’t bundle mobile and tablet strategies as one and the same – they require very different approaches
  •         Lastly, the income and age bracket of your consumer (I’ve not had a chance to touch on this yet but stayed tuned for future posts!)

The report is packed full of key consumer stats and attitudes from the entire consumer path to purchase (and yes, I know, I’m biased but it really is very extensive!).   If you are interested in downloading the report brochure and infographics then these can be found here.

We’ll be sharing a lot more insights from the report over the coming weeks via this blog and  Stay tuned by signing up to EyeforTravel’s weekly newsletter on the EyeforTravel homepage.