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An optimized mobile web strategy drives reach in the travel sector


​Mobile web provides a digital channel that might have been tailor-made for holiday travel companies. Its on-the-go immediacy and convenience has resulted in 25% of all mobile users reaching for their phones to research, plan, compare and book their holiday. Travel is in the top 5 categories that people access on their mobiles and the reach of mobile has now outstripped fixed use.  

If you are a young female aged between 18 and 34, earning £10-40K and you’re on your lunch break at work between Tuesday and Thursday, you’re the prime user of mobile to research your next holiday, says GFK’s new Mobile Insights Travel report. But if you’re an older male in a lower social class you’re more likely to be scanning the national lottery and Daily Mail or checking the weather forecast.


Using data to steer messaging

GFK’s insight can be used to trigger relevant messaging to the primary audience; timed to tap into the desire to escape routine and office life. It will also focus marketing efforts on the challenge of attracting a male audience, older holiday researchers and those with families and from higher social groups. Similarly, weekend browsers may require a different set of messaging tactics.

Digital media being a key component of customers’ purchase journeys, the number of touch points available in the travel category are prolific. Mobile offers greater personalization, on-going engagement opportunities while the consumer is out and about and the chance to disrupt the purchase journey and steer it in a different direction.


Low frequency, high variation

As the top three sites, TripAdvisor.com, Booking.com and Lastminute.com only account for 21% of sessions and a similar percentage of time spent, there’s a long tail of sites with 90% of users time spent across the top 450 sites. The question this raises for the marketing department is how to gain traction in such a vastly populated channel and optimise messaging and penetration.


Who is using apps?

Holiday research is largely site rather than app-based, with only 6% of iOS users relying on app only. Apps tend to be focused on major brands and definitive tasks, and although they slightly over-index in terms of usage, they still remain firmly in the minority. Whilst TripAdvisor’s experience mirrors the industry norm with an 85/10% split in site/app usage, Skyscanner bucks the trend with more app-centric activity with 62% of visitors using the app. Of course, task-oriented properties work better with apps, but it’s interesting to note that the app attracts a slightly more even gender mix, across higher incomes.

Marketers may wish to investigate a more app-led future to gain traction with affluent audiences. Even the research/comparison sites that tend to gain a greater number of traction browsers who flick between sites might benefit from the closed ecosystem that apps offer to encourage repeat usage.

How mobile fits into overall digital strategy

Optimising mobile web is all about timing and relevance. GFK’s insight will help integrate all elements of the digital strategy to create a more fulfilling experience for the user and encourage greater frequency of use.

Few travel companies have a mobile only strategy so it’s also important to balance mobile web with fixed use. British Airways offer an app but 17% of their users also visit britishairways.com. The 46% of fixed online users who access travel-related sites may be declining 5% year on year, but it is still represents a significant proportion. People using the app also use hotel sites such as Hilton; they are not searching for package holidays and tend to be more affluent.

As GFK releases its January 2014 data shortly, we’ll compare and contrast the variance in trends across the low booking season to the industry’s peak season and chart how mobile optimisation delivers to the hyper-connected traveller.

<h5 class="custom-rteElement-H5">Written by Laura Darling</h5>