As we have reported continuously over the past month, 2014 will be the year of mobile technologies. It is no surprise that traffic through mobile devices continues to grow year on year, and with the roll out of 4G technology all over Europe and ever lowering roaming charges its increasing importance for travel brands is undeniable. According to recent studies over a third of traffic to travel websites comes from mobile devices. Thus, to stay at the competitive edge, brands across the travel sector should make it a priority to provide the best experience possible for their mobile customers (Tnooz 2014).
Learning from the airline industry
In the travel sector, the airline industry is known for being at the forefront of incorporating latest consumer technology. Therefore it is worth to have a closer look at how airlines approach the mobile challenge. A recent study by digital marketing agency 8ms explores how some of the top airlines in the world are coping when it comes to connecting with consumers through mobile technology. The study looked in particular at the type of mobile apps, type of mobile website and if mobile boarding passes were used by the top 50 airlines in the world, and the top 11 airlines in the UK and Ireland.
Responsive design drives conversions
It is surprising to see that none of the top 50 airlines in the world use a responsive website. Instead 76% use a dedicated mobile site (such as //mobile.emirates.com), and most notably, 22% of the top 50 airlines in the world don’t have a mobile website at all. However, UK airline Thomas Cook just recently switched to a responsive design and according to Henry Sunley, Head of eCommerce at Thomas Cook Airlines UK “The newly designed site went live in December, just before the traditional holiday and travel Peak booking period, and (…) conversion from tablets and mobile devices has increased by over 30 per cent.”
Mobile apps are all about engagement
Mobile apps serve different purposes to mobile websites. The study by 8ms has shown that when it comes to traffic, most airline mobile traffic will come from the web, not from brand-loyal users who have downloaded an airline app. However, apps are useful for engagement, and content that can be viewed offline, like airline flight timetables. Similar this means for travel brands, such as destinations, that mobile apps should be considered as a targeted tool to increase brand engagement, for instance during the in-destination experience, and thereby create a consumer touchpoint that remains active beyond the visit in the destination.
Take aways for the future
As more people interact with brands through their mobile devices, it’s vital that travel brands optimise their mobile strategy. This requires a strong alignment of their mobile tactics across search engines, social networks and branded content across the web and in mobile apps. Apps and responsive websites should be integrated purposefully at the right stage of the marketing funnel in order to give consumers the best possible mobile experience at all stages of the travel cycle.
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