Earlier this year, the 2018 Digital Transformation report — an annual research initiative that dives into the digital transformation efforts of executives across the travel industry — in collaboration with Skiftx was released.
Mobile devices have become indispensable tools for the modern traveler, whether they’re used for getting to the airport, checking in, accessing in-flight entertainment, managing itineraries, unlocking hotel rooms, handling customer service problems, or looking for what to do and where to eat. The signs of mobile’s success are all around us — 95 percent of adults now use smartphones, and according to CMO.com, mobile is poised to account for 79 percent of all Internet use this year. In a 2016 Travelzoo study, 85 percent of Chinese respondents and 54 percent of American respondents said they prefer using travel apps for bookings.
For travel companies, the overwhelming shift to mobile has important consequences for their ongoing process of digital transformation. In fact, just having a mobile presence is no longer enough. “Adobe research shows that younger demographics have different expectations compared to older demographics when it comes to mobile, and that a fluid mobile experience is now table stakes,” said Julie Hoffmann, head of industry strategy for travel at Adobe. This is why today’s travel brands must “move beyond the app” as they work to design more seamless, integrated, experiences that reflect the evolving ways consumers use mobile while making travel easier, cheaper, and less stressful.
Today’s travel brands recognize the importance of shifting toward this new environment. The majority of travel companies say that more than 20 percent of their traffic already comes from mobile platforms, according to a survey published in the 2018 Digital Transformation Report by Adobe and Skift. In a separate Adobe study, 81 percent of marketers said that mobile sites were extremely or very important to their marketing strategies, and 69 percent said the same about mobile apps. Among respondents who said their mobile marketing strategies were “advanced” (referring to the use of mobile strategies including automation, integration of consumer data, following mobile best practices, and possessing strong technical skills), those figures jumped to 97 percent for each.
And mobile’s importance will only grow from here, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer said in a recent interview with Skift. “We see further penetration in mobile devices, of course, and when we look at our audience, they’re engaging with TripAdvisor on the trip a lot more,” Kaufer said. “That’s a wealth of opportunity for us to not only help [our audience] find the thing they want to do, but also cement that full-trip experience.”
Kaufer’s point about designing mobile products and services to address the full-trip experience is an important one. In fact, more travel marketers must utilize their full tool set to offer an enhanced experience. To do so, they must merge disparate data sets, such as those involving their CRM systems and app users. “The best of the best travel brands leverage their CRM data with tools like Adobe Audience Manager to create powerful unified audience profiles that can drive real-time experiences across channels,” said Hoffmann. Doing so allows travel brands to further personalize each traveler’s mobile experience based on who they are, where they are, and what the best experience will be for them. It also makes these experiences more relevant to the variety of mobile moments in the customer journey, reflecting today’s increasingly omni-channel environment. The need for mobile to serve as a “linchpin,” ensuring continuity across the growing range of offline and online travel touch points has never been greater. Research suggests the average consumer now owns about seven connected devices, making it all the more likely that travelers may experience disconnected or interrupted experiences.