Nearly 43 million Americans will take to the skies, rails, and roads this Memorial Day weekend, kicking off the busy summer travel and vacation season. As marketers, what interests us most is the huge number of travelers who will plan and book summertime getaways, vacations, and even “staycations” on mobile devices.
Researching hotels and airfare is as common as shopping for clothing on a mobile device, according to a study by Google and PhocusWright. What’s more is that consumers worldwide are exceedingly comfortable researching, booking, and planning their entire trip to a new travel destination using only a mobile device — 48% in the U.S. and up to a staggering 87% in India.
And customers are closing the deal on their mobile devices, too. A survey from Travelport found that nearly half of travelers worldwide have booked and paid for trips on their smartphones. In the U.S., that number jumps to 61%.
Travel brands have caught on, and 92% surveyed via Travelport know that having a mobile strategy is “critical or “very important.” So how can advertisers in the travel industry make the most of mobile?
Be There Throughout the Entire Customer Journey
You already know to reach customers in the early phases of trip planning, but if you’re not targeting last-minute bookers, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity: nearly three-quarters (72%) of all mobile bookings made by U.S. travelers happen within just 48 hours of the start of a trip, according to Sojern’s 2018 Global Travel Insights. Engage consumers with last-minute offers and follow-ups to customer searches.
The journey doesn’t end with the booking either. Over 70% of U.S. travelers “always” use their smartphones while on a trip, most often researching activities and attractions, locating shopping areas and restaurants, and looking up directions. On average, they’re using 10-12 apps throughout searching, booking, and traveling, so make sure yours is up to snuff to support travelers throughout the entire customer journey.
Leverage Big Data to Personalize Marketing
Personalized advertising clearly makes for a better user experience, but did you know your bookings might just depend on it? According to Epsilon, 87% of consumers are more likely to do business with travel brands who offer a personalized experience.
Half of travel and hospitality companies are already collecting and using real-time data, while 47% are using automated personalization to deliver a better customer experience and improve ROI.
It’s time to put in place a solid strategy for gathering customer data in order to build personalized mobile campaigns. You should be mining data from every search query, tagged location, and social media interaction that you can get your virtual hands on, and the right tech stack can help.
Thanks to pretty visuals, the travel industry is primed and ready to draw attention on the big social platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.
According to a 2018 infographic from MDG Advertising, 50% of Facebook users say their friends’ photos inspire their travel plans, and 30% of U.S. travelers turn to social media to find trip inspiration.
And travelers aren’t just interacting with friends and influencers; they’re seeking out travel brands on social media, too. Fifty-two percent of travelers liked a page related to an upcoming trip, and 46% posted hotel reviews after returning home.
The lesson here? Meet your customers where they are. Fifty-five percent of travel brands plan to spend more on Facebook and Instagram marketing in 2019, and there’s a reason for it.
The summer travel season is peak time to get your advertising plan in gear, and with high (and growing) mobile use among consumers, you’ll want to allocate plenty of budget and brainspace to a smart strategy.
-Guest post by Naomi Rabbie, VP Marketing, Taptica