Here’s what travel companies should do to reach mobile savy Indian consumers

Travellers have an old adage that “half the journey is getting there.” While “getting there” was never intended to mean researching and booking a trip, it was a fitting statement for the tedious booking process; before digital devices disrupted the travel industry.

Things have changed and planning a trip is faster and easier than ever. Booking across devices is the new norm, driven by the tech-savvy Indian millennials. In one of the largest smartphones market of the world, it has become a more prominent device for travel bookings. The use of mobile apps continues to extend their reach as a preferred booking channel. This new customer journey has important implications for hotel, airline and other travel brands targeting savvy travellers across multiple digital devices.

Travel marketers must embrace mobile growth and develop a seamless cross-device and app strategy to reach consumers wherever they are on their booking journey. It is important that travel companies understand their user journey starting right from browsing, leading to final purchase of bookings/services.

Invest in the small screen

Travellers are, by nature, on the move, so what better place to reach them than the devices in their pockets? Travel companies must offer content and functionality that are fully adapted to smartphones and take advantage of the latest technology enhancements. Features like swipe to book, quick-loading mobile pages, notification alerts and mobile ticketing can help draw in consumers by making it easy for them to research and plan trips on the go.

Criteo’s latest Asia Pacific Digital Traveller Report reveals, about 54 percent of millennials, and 44 percent of baby boomers in India use smartphones for travel bookings. Considering the growing number of consumers using mobile phones for planning their travel and finally booking through mobile apps or mobile web, travel brands should continue to invest in smartphone-based platforms that make it easy for their consumers to research, plan and book trips on small screens.

Travel companies need to adapt mobile experiences to meet the needs of the influential, connected millennials behind this trend in order to be successful. As this trend grows, travel marketers need to ensure they offer secure mobile transactions and a simple payment process so that consumers avoid roadblocks on their travel purchasing journey. These best practices should be replicated across all devices – including smartphone, tablet and desktop – for a consistent and synchronized experience wherever the journey leads.

Make your mobile app part of the travel experience

Dedicated mobile apps empower consumers with capabilities like choosing their hotel room, checking in early and adding additional services to their stays. Travel brands that have the foresight to focus on developing a feature-rich mobile app will benefit from an increase in downloads and bookings from on-the-go consumers.

Travel marketers like OYO have invested in mobile app and online website. OYO adopted a social media strategy (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) in several of its marketing campaigns to raise brand visibility amongst other travel aggregators such as Makemytrip and Cleartrip. This resulted in revenue increase of OYO by 10%.

Brands with a mobile app presence that offers travellers differentiating deals and services are poised for success as smartphone use continues to expand. Moreover, through investment in content digital marketing, companies can build trust, and fortify level of engagement and relationship with their consumers. This will further initiate increase in reach and traffic to website allowing the expansion of hotel, bus, rail, car rental, honey package bookings.

Encourage spontaneity with time and location-based offers

Several years ago, a last-minute cancellation or change of plans could leave a traveller stranded and frantically calling a travel agent to find a place to stay. Today, the same scenario can be quickly resolved with a few swipes and taps of the thumb. Travel changes on the go are no longer a source of anxiety, but excitement, as the ease of booking spontaneous trips increases, and consumers are embracing this.

Industry data shows that majority of Indian travellers make last minute travel booking and therefore prefer booking using online/mobile apps, as it is easier to change/cancel their booking. Moreover booking from travel portals is easier to book flights and hotels. Moreover consumers also enjoy the benefit of discounts offered only for online booking or booking via apps. Smart travel marketers can take advantage of this growing trend by making time and location central to their mobile booking experience.

Smartphones are shifting closer to the center of the booking experience, making the trip-planning journey more smooth and seamless than ever before. Travel companies should invest in the smartphone booking experience, make time and location key to mobile booking, and build an intuitive and services-driven mobile app to successfully meet travellers at every stage of their journey. Those that can master a mobile-first, cross-device strategy and reduce consumers’ time spent “getting there” will reap the benefits of happy travellers, wherever their final destination may be.

(The article is authored by Dushyant Sapre, Commercial Director, Criteo India)



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