3 ways your customers use their mobile for travel bookings

“What factors influence mobile personalization strategies for travel businesses?” is a question our clients frequently ask us. It’s a great question. Essentially, they are trying to determine how to extract as much value from the channel and deliver the best customer experience possible.

Mobile has become a catch all phrase. But we typically break our answer into 3 categories that help distinguish the different roles mobile devices play. These are: functional usage, big ticket bookings and post-purchase.

1.  Functional usage 

Smartphones and mobile devices have become a brilliant aid to consumers when needing to do something quickly and efficiently. Tasks such as planning the best route to a meeting, or getting hold of a taxi at a moment’s notice, or even booking a last minute table at a local restaurant they’ve heard about.  The factors that influence these consumer decisions are distinct and businesses can start to build a picture of the consumer motive. It’s from this starting point that you can develop a personalization strategy.  These factors include: 

  • Utility and needing to use mobile for convenience

  • Time-based and last-minute decisions

  • The location of the user

  • Social influences with friends / family

  • Portability & convenience of device size on the go

 When we consider these factors closely, they group into everyday means of life. For example using a mobile to re-schedule a route or glance at a holiday destination.  Brands can begin to use this understanding to personalize common, or most-booked routes, or locations for example.    

2.  Big-ticket bookings

 However, what about when we consider how mobile impacts those one-off bookings; a summer holiday with friends or family?  How does mobile impact that dramatically different behavioral process? According to eMarketer’s latest forecast, 54.6% of travel research in 2015 will be via mobile and tablet devices.  An important factor to consider is therefore is that your strategy should be focused towards presenting the right content, rather than driving the user towards conversion, which is therefore a more intelligent way to engage with the customer on the device.  If you detect that a user is using a mobile, you would want to consider the following within your strategy:

  • Compelling images and creative to increase engagement

  • Information on the product / experience to differentiate your brand and service

  • Customer reviews to validate the quality and give confidence

  • Booking options and flexibilities to encourage bespoke deals

  • Social integration for sharing and communicating

  • Holiday recommendations to help guide and structure the research

 Many brands have turned to mobile apps to help this process of the consumer journey.  This of course allows brands to deliver content and information in a usable and friendly format, and often allows brands to prompt a sign-in to use the app.  This then allows businesses to build profiles of their customers and reveals trends about user that are crucial for when the customer reaches the ‘buy phase’, and will allow brands to get a much more accurate view of how to service a customer after a booking.

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3.  Post-purchase

Many customers will have spent weeks or months researching that big holiday, and finally booked and converted on a desktop device to be absolutely sure of the detail around the booking.  This is widely acknowledged and accepted, but again mobile has a brilliant role to play post booking and can help businesses save money and provide a better customer service.  As an example; one airline estimates that over $10 is saved each time a customer checks into a flight via the mobile app, rather than at the airport.  Considerations for your personalization strategy could be:

  • They want to save time and have a more convenient way of gaining information

  • They want to be reassured, with regular updates about the status of their flight and when they can book in.

  • They want to have the ability to upgrade their bookings or add-on products & services

A strong understanding of these factors and the consumer motive behind using mobile post-booking gives brands an opportunity to drive ancillary sales.  Personalization therefore can help message the right people at the right time within their consumer journey.

It’s quite clear that mobile personalization in the travel industry is necessary to deliver engaging experiences to consumers, however we must first recognize what a consumer is using their mobile for before beginning to personalize.  Once brands begin to understand the use, discovering who to personalize for, the how and when comes next.  

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Want more inspiration about how to personalize for your customers on travel websites? Check out our ebook, The top ten ways to personalize for travel.