Nicolas Eng, Google APAC travel manager, spoke at this week’s Travolution Asia Forum in Langkawi, Malaysia. Lee Hayhurst reports
The smartphone is the driving force behind the emergence of the demanding impatient travellers which firms must understand if they are to meet their needs, according to Google.
Nicolas Eng, Google APAC travel manager, speaking at the Travolution Asia Forum at this week’s PATA 2018 Travel Mart held in Lagkawi, Malaysia, he said mobile has empowered consumers.
Eng said: “Asia is the global growth engine for travel. Online bookings are growing twice as fast as in US and Europe and we expect to see this accelerate over the next five years.
“What’s driving this? It’s all being driven by access to smartphones which is fundamentally changing consumer behaviour.
“Ninety percent of Asian access the internet though their mobile phones they spend almost four hours a day online, the highest of any region globally, and 40% of Asians research their trips on their phones.
“People really want to get exactly what they want, instantly and effortlessly, and they want to have the means not just to spend money but to anticipate what they will spend money on.
“We are now dealing with more travellers who are more empowered and very different from a few years ago. Travellers can now afford to be actively curious, critically demanding and very impatient.
“They can take their time exploring and getting inspired but the moment they decide they want something they want it to be perfect and they want it right now.
“This is pretty typical of most millennial travellers. We are fundamentally more curious and we are using more devices and platforms to find out about destinations as well as experiences.
“We see this happening across the board at Google across a number of platforms. Searches for top destinations are up, searches for flights are up, and searches for hotels on Google Maps are up.”
Eng added Google also sees travellers who are increasingly demanding immediacy.
“In the digital world patience doesn’t really exist. Searches that relate to today and the now have more than doubled in the past three years.
“Finally, travellers expect to be given tailored content. A large number of traveller searches are relevant to the moment and their searches are increasingly customised to their surroundings.
“Digitally empowered consumers have much higher expectations when it comes to suppliers. What do they want? It’s pretty simple.
“We are all pretty short of attention and time and they expect speed but the average global website takes 22 second to load.
“Over 50% of visitors drop out of a site that takes more than three second to load and for every additional second a site takes to load you see a 20% drop in bookings.
“Travellers also don’t want to spend a lot of time filtering different options, they want us to predict their needs.
“When travel brands personalise experiences 70% of travellers report more loyalty and about 40% are willing to pay more for the experience they receive.
“Finally, they expect it to be a seamless experience. The majority of millennial users are cross-device users but that does not mean they want to start from scratch every time they book.
“Seventy per cent of users abandon a site or app because there are too many steps to purchase. So what does this mean to you?
“It means that travellers now expect assistance at every stage of the experience so you need to simplify to assist the customer in each of the four stages of travel to provide relevant information and adequate personalisation.
“When travellers are in dreaming phase you need to be relevant, branded quick, when they move on to the actual planning stage you should be personal and helpful.
“Booking is a pretty complicated process, it requires juggling multiple dates, prices, logistics, and you’ll need to provide a pretty seamless experience for people to move forward.
“Finally, while travelling you’ll need to continue to be helpful and present.”