By 2017 more than 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, according to Euromonitor.

In part, this will be the result of online travel companies making their apps more appealing by adding location services that help travellers find the nearest rooms and restaurants. 

According to new research from BuzzCity about today’s connected traveller, holiday booking habits have also changed noticeably.

There has been a 50% increase in mobile use across business and leisure travellers, with 30% relying purely on their mobiles to make last minute bookings.

The growth of mobile isn’t slowing down and will be a driving force for the travel industry in 2015.

Mobile was highlighted by travel companies as the most exciting opportunity for 2015 in our Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing.

Travel companies need to therefore ensure their websites are optimised for mobile, to allow for easy navigation, engaging content and a personalised experience.  Those that don’t will lose potential customers as mobile use is rapidly becoming the norm.

71% of mobile users who encountered a non-mobile-optimised website bounced back to their search results. (Leonardo)

As consumers continue to use a number of devices to research and fulfil their travel needs, companies also need to offer consumers ways to identify themselves and continue to recognise them personally each time they access the site from their mobile, laptop or tablet creating a seamless, personalised customer experience that is conducive to purchasing.

Travel gets personal

74% of online consumers admit they become frustrated when content appears that has no relevance to them (e-strategy).

“Bringing in personalisation at the early stages of travel inspiration, search and shopping influence and accelerate purchasing decisions.”  (Amadeus 2014)

Travel companies have a huge opportunity to use big data to personalise the shopping experience online and  ‘targeting and personalisation’ was highlighted as their top digital priority for 2015.  We can see from the above chart that Personalisation takes over from mobile in five years’ time as the most exciting opportunity.

Getting the experience right is crucial

Conversion rate optimisation was the second highest digital priority highlighted by the travel sector for 2015.  With so many people spending a lot of money booking their travel online, businesses cannot afford to neglect the user experience, particularly when it comes to the check out and the booking process.

Successful marketing to drive visitors to your website will be in vain if visitors have a bad user experience, causing a large proportion of these visitors to leave.

Our blog article gave our thoughts on 10 essential features for mobile travel sites. Having last year spent time travelling the world we were often wanting to find places to stay on the move using our mobile phones or tablet. Booking.com became one of our key choices that we turned to in each country.

The website was extremely easy to use on a mobile device, allowing us to easily choose where and when we wanted to stay and we could narrow down the search results depending on star rating, best price (a big factor with having a budget), or review score.

The summary for each property shown in the search results gave us at a glance the price, distance from main town, rating, when last booked enabling us to easily see which would be of interest.

For any we were interested in we could easily look at more photos,  information on the property and places of interest, plus add to a wish list.

Having an account created within booking.com made booking even easier and we could easily go back and manage our accounts if we wanted to change our mind about staying anywhere.

Gone are the days where seeing is believing, now experiencing is believing

The mobile augmented reality market is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2016 (e-strategy/Juniper). Travel companies now have the opportunity to give consumers searching for a hotel or holiday destination on the web the ability to go inside.

Marriott Hotels have been using Oculus Rift developer versions to sell honeymoon destinations. It offered newly married couples in New York the experience of immediately travelling to Marriott honeymoon destinations such as London and Hawaii.

2015 will be an exciting and challenging one for the Travel industry. The battle for bookings will be won not only by owning big data, but in the way that companies interpret it to successfully deliver a more personalised, contextual experience for their customers across all devices.

For more guidance on optimisation for mobile, check out the Mobile Web Design and Development Best Practice Guide featuring more than 200 pages of insight into planning, design and delivery.