In a 2017, a Global Mobile Consumer Survey, from Deloitte LLP revealed, “The smartphone is a mere decade old and with every year, has become ever more integral to people’s lives. It has become more versatile and is likely to be used even more extensively over the coming years.” Deloitte posed the question, “What’s next for the smartphone?”
In short, the answer is increased mobile commerce, as multi-generational technology users get to grips with the faster and easier mobile web experiences. This is especially true in the travel industry, where high value purchases often require extensive research in advance of booking. Google sums up the travel customer journey well with its micro-moments methodology methodology.
The travel industry has witnessed a significant rise in the use of mobile technology, with ABTA’s 2017 Holiday Habits Report revealing that smartphone bookings made between 2016 and 2017 showed a 13% to 20% rise over the period.
Further confirmation of the upward trend came from Holiday Hypermarket, which recently announced a rise from 15% to 20% in mobile bookings in the first quarter of 2018. Spokesperson Craig Duncan noted that this is because, “Travel companies have worked hard to improve the mobile booking experience for their customers. With the increased usage of smartphones boasting larger screens, and the rise of apps, it’s made booking easier as consumers become more confident in mobile commerce.”
For travel businesses that sell to older customers, such as cruise companies, there is not only only the challenge of accessibility, but also that these products are often more complicated to buy compared to beach holidays. That said, as cruise audiences change online retailers are adapting to capitalise on the opportunity in e-commerce. CruiseDeals.co.uk are the latest website to go transactional with the relaunch of their website in May.
“It very much feels like a logical step for us”, explains Ian Crawford of CruiseDeals.co.uk. “Cruise audiences are getting younger and older generations are becoming more tech-savvy. Being able to book a cruise and any excursions in one place promises to give our customers a greater sense of freedom and flexibility…”
With more interactive websites, holidaymakers are now able to research, find and book the latest deals quickly and with minimal fuss, making them appeal to both young tech-savvy consumers and older travellers that want to get the most value for their money. With an abundance of supporting content and real time chat to support customers their is less of a need for call centre support.
These developments are further enhanced by the continuing rise in the use of mobile technology. On 26 March 2018, Google announced that after 18 months of testing, they have started the process of migrating sites that adhere to best practices for mobile-first indexing. Consequently, websites will now see an increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot.
Despite this, there is still work to be done to ensure that every generation of travel enthusiasts can take advantage of the new developments. Ofcom, while acknowledging that older adults are increasingly using smartphones and tablets, observed that some still lack confidence when purchasing online. This is likely to diminish, however, as sites become evermore focussed on offering seamless and secure experiences.
With one in five holidaymakers now booking their trips on smartphones, the split between desktop and mobile devices is shifting and Holiday Hypermarket’s Craig Duncan expects this trend to continue, “We certainly expect to see mobile bookings increase exponentially in 2019 and soon surpass desktop.”