By Nishma Robb, chief client officer at global digital marketing agency iProspect. This article is an abstract from the presentation she will make at the Travolution Summit 22nd November2012.
This Christmas we are likely to see more people than ever receiving a tablet or ‘phablet’ (devices that are not sure if they are a phone or a tablet) as manufacturers introduce new value models.
This is expected to have a significant impact on the number of holidaymakers searching online and user demographics as tablets become affordable for the many and not just the few.
Research shows that Boxing Day (and the period up to the first week of January) is still one of the busiest times of the year for searching online for holidays.
Deciding on a destination is a multi-screen activity. Today’s consumer is constantly connected. We increasingly lead ‘three device lives’, mobiles, tablets and desktop computers.
How we use them varies during the day and across the week; therefore those with a true multi-channel or at least multi-device strategy are likely to be more successful in delivering digital sales.
Data from Google shows that of the travel related searches made in the UK in the second quarter of this year, 72% were made on computer, 13% on mobile phones and 15% on tablets.
Mobile search for travel queries are up 500% since 2010 and this compares to growth of 257% for entertainment and 525% for retail.
The growth in ownership of smartphones has jumped from 43% in June 2011 to 58% in June 2012, and with the release of new phones and the average price now below £100 it is easy to see smartphone ownership hitting the high 70s next year.
Mobile searches are also peaking as consumers search while multi-screening. Up to 40% of last-minute queries in the UK are made on a mobile device.
With so many customer travel booking journeys now starting from a smartphone and then moving between devices, travel brands need to be available at each of these touch-points and retain data or browsing history to make the journey and booking experience continuous between devices.
It can be extremely frustrating for the user to have to start each booking journey again on each device and begin the whole research process again.
So what can travel brands do to maximise success in a multi-screen world?
1. Ensure all information (including browsing history) is transferable between devices via an account log-in or sign-in
2. Deliver device-specific experiences with device-specific features that address the needs of your customer on that device
3. Analyse the data on each of your devices to ensure you have an understanding of your customers’ journeys and so you can personalise their experience.
4. Connect device experience in a fun way. Lead your customers from one to the other and encourage exploration.
In 2013, Google forecasts that search volumes will ‘flip’, with the majority of searches being made via mobile devices and not via desktop computers.
So device-specific campaigns will be even more important to ensure travel retailers reach tablet owners. A recent study by the IAB highlighted the surprising fact that of the top 100 advertisers only 37% had sites optimised for mobile.
As consumers, we expect sites to be optimised for whatever device we choose to access it on. Our patience with load times of sites is now about four seconds, with around a quarter of visitors unwilling to wait and unlikely ever to return.
A slow site is just like obstructing the front doors to your store; your potential customer will give up and go next door.
With forecasts suggesting that 70% of the UK will have 4G coverage by the end of 2013, I hope more online businesses will review the speed in which their sites download.
As we draw closer to Boxing Day I am keen to see who will be the online winners this holiday booking season and how well we embrace the new digital age in 2013.