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The Role Social and Mobile Plays in Travel Bookings

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

Once upon a time, you had to visit or call a travel agent to plan your getaways. Nowadays, people are flocking to social media for vacation inspiration and search engines to track down their own packages and deals.

While most travel research is performed on desktop, mobile devices are doubling as miniature assistant shoppers — used to compare fare quotes, check destination weather and map out routes in advance. In addition, mobile apps are increasingly employed to book hotels, cars and flights (particularly last-minute), as well as store travel itineraries and provide up-to-the-minute flight information.

Some interesting stats:

  • In comScore‘s Q1 State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy report, use of mobile devices to book online travel is up 30% compared to a year ago and shows a nearly 4X faster growth rate than desktop
  • Of American adults who make travel reservations from their phone:

 mobile travel bookings indicate short turnaround

  • During a three-month study by comScore, 51% percent of the smartphone audience accessed air and/or hotel content on their device, with 4 in every 5 mobile travelers accessing both. Other noteworthy mobile behavior:top trip planning activities on mobile
  • Research from eMarketer indicates that when it comes to online channels, leisure travelers worldwide turn to online reviews first when seeking travel-planning inspiration, trailed by travel forums and then Facebook:

 social media used to choose a travel destination according to leisure travelers worldwide, by region, oct 2012

  •  A Harris survey finds that 28% of smartphone owners have used their mobile device to book a hotel, and 34% indicated they haven’t yet but they intend to
  • When it comes to social media users, the majority use Facebook to share their travel plans:

Many people share their upcoming travel on Facebook

It’s clear that the relationship between travel bookings and mobile/social activity has become intertwined, but there’s an exciting amount of room for improvement when it comes to eCommerce advertising, engagement and optimization. Online travel agencies and travel brands alike should evaluate these mobile missed opportunities:

  • Providing vacation inspiration to people looking to travel via content, ads, social media and website landing pages
  • Making websites mobile-friendly so browsers can become buyers
  • Catering advertising (especially install app ads) to last-minute deal hunters
  • Engaging spontaneous travelers with itinerary add-ons
  • Adding a destination wish list component to your website or app (encourages return visits and provides valuable data)
  • Integrating sight-seeing tips, map and weather information into apps and content
  • Connecting the traveler’s physical experience to the virtual presence of the brand via social sharing

Mark Donovan, SVP of Mobile sums it up nicely in a statement about comScore’s Travel Advisor report: “The on-the-go convenience of smartphones has facilitated their emergence as an essential companion for travelers. We all know how hectic a travel experience can be, but smartphones have really stepped in to meet a variety of needs for travelers, such as coordination of schedules, locations, trip itineraries and transactions. With more than half of all smartphone users now engaging with travel content, there has never been a better opportunity for suppliers and OTAs to invest in their mobile strategies to provide a great experience and win loyalty from their customers.”

Want to learn more about how mobile can help your travel brand? Read Passport to Profit: The Massive Mobile Opportunity for Travel Marketers.

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