If you plan to run your travel business successfully into the future, here’s a tip that you should take to heart right now...GO MOBILE! This is true for any business – online or brick-and-mortar – but since we’re talking travel, here are some compelling reasons to go this route, and how to leverage this tectonic shift in user behavior to your benefit, starting immediately.
Travel is one of the world’s largest industries, and it continues to grow. Everybody in the business knows just how much of an impact the internet had on the travel industry. With bookings through online travel agencies serving as the main growth engine of world travel, millions of customers search online to find the best deals on flights, hotels, tours, car hire, and anything travel-oriented. The internet freed up people to plan their trips on their own, down to the last detail. Already by 2012, online U.S. travel sales had surpassed $100 billion, according to comScore.
Now, mobile is the latest sales channel for the travel industry. Through the end of 2015, it is expected to account for more than 25% of total U.S. travel sales, driving $40 billion in revenue from online travel bookings, according to PhoCusWright, a travel industry research website.
Earlier this year, Google released a mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, which gives a significant SEO boost to pages with the “mobile-friendly” label. Travel businesses can actually test if Google considers web pages to be mobile-friendly by using its Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Main points to keep in mind when making your mobile site are to avoid using Flash, use font large enough for users to read, avoid placing links too close together, and present the content so users do not have to zoom or scroll horizontally.
The online travel industry is not only about search these days; the world is increasingly social and mobile, and the number of tech-savvy consumers is rising. Now more than ever, travel companies must keep pace by giving the customer an efficient, accessible, and enjoyable experience. This is a key to survival in the travel industry.
Airlines, hotel chains, and online travel agencies need to stay ahead of the mobile computing curve. Airbnb already sees more than a quarter of its traffic from mobile, and is specifically gearing up for, and even encouraging, travelers' transition to mobile devices. TripAdvisor is following the same strategy.
Cisco® recently published its latest Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update which presents major global mobile data traffic projections and growth trends from 2014 through 2019. The sheer magnitude of the data should convince online travel business operators to seriously consider the enormous potential represented by going mobile...and the risks of ignoring it.
The most significant points of the report reveal:
- Global mobile data traffic grew 69 percent in 2014, with traffic reaching 2.5 exabytes per month at the end of 2014, up from 1.5 exabytes per month at the end of 2013.
- Last year’s mobile data traffic was nearly 30 times the size of the entire global internet in 2000.
- Almost half a billion (497 million) mobile devices and connections were added in 2014, growing from 6.9 billion in 2013 to 7.4 billion. Smartphones accounted for 88 percent of that growth, with 439 million net additions in 2014.
- In 2014, on an average, a smart device generated 22 times more traffic than a non-smart device.
- Average smartphone usage grew 45 percent in 2014 and while smartphones represented only 29 percent of total global handsets in use in 2014, they represented 69 percent of total global handset traffic.
- In 2014, the typical smartphone generated 37 times more mobile data traffic (819 MB per month) than the typical basic-feature cell phone (which generated only 22 MB per month of mobile data traffic).
- The number of mobile-connected devices already exceeded the world’s population in 2014.
Cisco’s main predictions about mobile data traffic developments over the next five years make a powerful argument for going mobile; monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 24.3 exabytes by 2019, and global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019. And by 2019 there will be nearly 11.5 billion mobile-connected devices — exceeding the world’s population projected at that time (7.6 billion).
With a mobile-friendly site, it’s much easier to target your potential customers, make sales through a mobile payment system, and thus increase your conversion rates even further. In addition, mobile messages are device-compatible and provide an improved user experience.
With all the metrics on devices and the capabilities demonstrating this enormous continuing growth in the recent past and imminent future, you need to embrace the change and go mobile, in order to the benefit your operations and increase your revenue...or risk being left behind in the cyber dust.