Travel firms looking to find growth in international markets must adapt their offering for customers who are becoming more demanding and impatient.
Delegates at a Travolution Business Breakfast hosted by Google last week were told how important it is that websites are also localised in terms of language and payment options for each market.
Finnbar Cornwall, senior industry head for travel at Google, said with query growth in the UK this year for holidays running at only 2%, it was important for firms to find growth opportunities.
Declining consumer confidence, due to concerns about things like Brexit, was blamed for the poor growth in search for holidays.
Cornwall said: “In order to find growth, we’ve got to look outside the UK as a market. Whenever I talk to clients about going international these are some of the questions people have their minds:
“Where can they find growth opportunities? Either to grow within existing or new markets, and how user needs are different, what does that look like? These are some of the questions we are getting.”
Cornwall said once firms have identified where their growth opportunities are the next question to answer is what’s happening with the user.
“In the world today, according to Gartner, there are eight billion connected devices. That’s more than there are people. Yet by 2020 there’s going to be 20 billion,” Cornwall said.
“All of that is generating a huge amount of data – signals about what people are doing. We have been playing a lot of attention to this.
“At Google we think if you follow the user all else will follow. Here’s what we have observed. First of all, users are getting more curious.
“We have seen huge increase in searches that contain the word ‘best’. What’s best for me?”
“We have also seen, every day, 15% of searches on Google are new, we’ve never seen them before. People are coming to us to look for something new, a new hotel, or a new destination.
“The second thing we have observed is users are becoming more demanding. They want things personalised.
“So much so, in our surveys, 60% of UK travellers tell us they’d rather see fewer travel options that are more personalised to them rather than the long list of options you get today.
“And finally, we have seen consumers become more impatient. One example of that is we have seen huge increases in next day shipping, people wanting to get their stuff immediately.
“How does that play out? More than three quarters of travellers will abandon a booking if it takes more than three minutes to load.
“All of that means they are becoming more empowered. But what does that mean as you think about growing internationally?
“First of all, 72% on consumers tell us they want to visit websites in their own language. Secondly, more than 65% of shoppers will abandon a checkout if it doesn’t support their payment needs.
“And finally, if there’s poor consumer service 67% of consumers will stop doing any work on the booking.”
Cornwall cited the case study of Air Baltic which has worked with Google and its “Market Finder” and international growth division.
He said the search giant has been able to help it translate its website into 10 languages provide insight into consumer signals and payment types and assisted with customer service operations.
He said this has seen a 125% increase in sales for the carrier as well as a reduction in its costs of acquiring customers.