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Over a third of holiday enquiries made through Google come via smartphones, according to the search engine’s travel industry manager Paul Godman.
Speaking at Broadway Travel’s 2015 conference in Madeira, Godman said it was critical travel companies understood and kept pace with the shift in the way customers are using technology to research and book holidays.
“The rate of change driven by mobile phones is astonishing. Mobiles are not the future: it’s here and now and if you are not there with a good mobile experience you are missing out,” he warned.
Godman said technology was constantly evolving with new trends such as wearable and in-car technology likely to shape future usage, as well as new markets set to open up in destinations such as Africa and India.
“If you understand how technology is changing you get a better understanding of how your customers are starting to change,” he said.
In 2010, 10% of all searches on Google were through smartphones, by 2013 this had risen to 30% and it now stands at more than 40%.
While 34 % of holiday searches on Google are now via mobile phones, he admitted this was not the same level for online transactions.
“Transactions (via mobile) are much harder,” he added. “But if you are not there for the 34 % you are driving out a consideration set and giving it to a competitor. Expectations have changed.”
Customers are now more trusting when it comes to using the internet and booking online. “It makes sense if you want to grow as a company that you at least keep pace with that change if not exceed it.”
Companies doing well online are those would use data to make better decisions and market the right information to the relevant audience. He urged companies to put themselves “in your customers’ shoes” to understand their behaviour, tap into customer data, automate marketing campaigns and make the most of digital promotions to “tell your story” to potential clients.
Broadway Travel Services product and marketing director Jason Waldron said more than 65% of customers now opened emails sent to them by the group on their mobile phones. Three years ago, 80% of Broadway’s customers opened the group’s emails on their desktops.