Smartphone- and tablet-based searches for hotel rooms and airline tickets are growing in the double- and triple-digits in major markets. Travel companies have realised they need to invest a great deal more in mobile apps and cloud services, and try to out-innovate their competition on mobile.
“Mobile is an absolutely critical piece of our strategy. Long term, it’s the center of everything we’re doing,” Joost Schreve, TripAdvisor’s vice president of mobile, said in an exclusive interview with Business Insider Intelligence.
We spoke with Schreve, and canvassed other sources in order to provide a cross-section of what major travel players — including Airbnb, Expedia, and Yelp — are doing on mobile. We found there’s plenty of innovation underway, but that there’s still a gap in terms of what customers would like to see on mobile, and the services that they’re actually receiving. This gap is leading to lost sales and lost opportunities. For example, two-thirds or more of travellers in major markets said they’d be more likely to book trips on mobile if apps and sites were easier to use. (See chart, above.)
Here are some of our other findings:
- Wearables and the car dashboard represent the platforms where mobile travel will thrive next. Expect to see new travel-related apps and features for wearables debuting regularly.
- These are some of the hottest trends relevant to travel apps: cross-device services and marketing, sophisticated use of local data such as for algorithm-driven personalised local search results, full-stack photo editing and sharing features, and the integration of travel information and data into augmented reality apps and wearables.
- But there are significant barriers to overcome before mobile can become a key channel for travel-related research and purchases: bad user experience design, friction that keeps users from completing transactions on mobile, and lack of Wi-Fi and 4G coverage.
- Tablets are emerging as a power device for completing travel purchases. Tablets accounted for 7% of all online travel bookings globally in the third quarter of 2013, and 11% of all time-spend on travel sites in April 2013.
The report is full of charts and data that can be easily downloaded and put to use. This report updates our popular 2013 report on mobile travel, “The Mobile Tourist: How Smartphones Are Shaking Up The Travel Market.” Both reports are available to subscribers.
In full, the report:
- Explains the difference between “travel suppliers,” and information providers, and how their strategies will diverge on mobile (even as some players try to do both)
- Looks at how big the travel market is in the U.S. and globally, and forecasts the slice that mobile will take of overall online travel bookings
- Examines which mobile-centric features are going to be most important to travellers, and how businesses are beginning to incorporate these features into their mobile travel services
- Describes how Airbnb and TripAdvisor specifically are gearing up for, and even encouraging, travellers’ transition to mobile devices
- Discusses the pain points that are still holding back mobile usage among travellers, particularly when it comes to making bookings
- Considers what will be next in mobile travel, especially as wearables see much greater uptake and travel apps become a major part of the wearables app ecosystem