Tips and trends for where social and mobile is heading in 2013

Disruption, consolidation and innovation are all conspiring to make these exciting yet uncertain times for the travel industry. Here we outline some of the findings from the latest essential EyeforTravel research to help both old and new players adapt in this dynamic, hyper competitive market.

The recently published EyeforTravel Social Media and Mobile in Travel Distribution Report: Online strategies, consumer and industry trends, 2013 highlights only too well how tough the travel vertical is and how agile you need to be to survive. In the 100-plus-page report involving over 30 industry interviews and surveys of some 2,000 executives and 20,000+ consumers is little surprise that we have identified some emerging consumer trends. Here is a snapshot of some of the highlights.

1. Mobile is now business critical

The mobile channel is no longer being talked about as a must-have - any brand likely to survive and thrive the next few years is grasping the opportunity and making mobile integral to their business model going forward. They are wise to do so as consumer behaviour is changing as we speak and accessing information on the go is very much a part of that. For this reason, mobile optimised sites are considered business critical and, in fact, some meta-search players won’t aggregate operators that lack this functionality. Further mobile is powering the last-minute through geo-location technology – a lucrative and growing segment.

Key stats

20% sales made via mobile in 2013

37% of consumers accessed the Internet for travel purposes via their smartphone.

63% more travel suppliers saw mobile bookings increase between 2011 and 2013 

43.8% of consumers would make a last-minute booking on a smartphone up to a week before travel in 2013

Quote Unquote

“From the booking time curve…seen in desktop bookings, the mobile channel is not simply shifting those bookings. Mobile traffic is pure incremental growth in the last-minute window.”

William Becker, Departing head of Innovation, Lastminute.com; founder, alltherooms.com - one of 30 industry experts interviewed for the report

2. Social has a point but it is not there yet

Yes travel executives are committed to social media despite a year-on-year projected decline in investment. Most have a social media presence, although only a third of intermediaries believe it has an impact on distribution versus half of suppliers. Who has it right? One thing is certain, social media is no longer just about Facebook.

Key stats

7 hours - the time consumers can spend engaged with social media in a day

1bn Facebook users worldwide

8% of people very likely to book through social media (so it’s not yet seen as a booking platform, but this could change!)

36% of suppliers see social media as a critical information tool (35% intermediaries)

90% of intermediaries and suppliers have a Facebook presence

29,957 mentions of an America Airlines nationwide service outage on social media 

Quote Unquote

“We are consolidating our pages and places on the assumption that social search has a future…”

Gregg Tilston, Global Social Media Leader, Flight Centre

3. The world is tilting East

BRIC nations, particularly China, have shown rapid growth in online shopping and social media interactions and since 2011 are travelling more than ever. Travel brands seeking to engage in Russia can develop apps with confidence - the research shows that this is an app heartland. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, there has been a recent surge in travellers from Asia and the Far East: Chinese and Indian consumers feature strongly.

Key stats

597million active social media users in China

3 times as many Chinese travellers went abroad in 2011 versus 2003

43% of Chinese consumers would make a purchase of under $200 via mobile phone

6m Indian consumers with access to 3G

82% of 16-24 year-old users in China own a smartphone

4. Google alert

We can’t talk about how about the travel landscape is shifting without a mention of Google. And the travel industry is certainly watching developments closely and starting to understand the impact of Google on their business. Here is why:

42.7% of consumers start their travel search on Google

24% the percentage Google predicts hotel related search online will grow in 2013 (it will fall 5% after that)

68% how much Google predicts mobile related search will grow year-on-year

180% how Google predicts tablet related search will grow year-on-year

So mobile is very much on Google’s radar but how will all this affect the consumer’s search? And what impact will location-based mobile search enhance Google’s ability to serve travel properties directly to the consumer?

To shed light on these and countless other questions facing the travel industry today read the EyeforTravel Social Media and Mobile in Travel Distribution Report: Online strategies, consumer and industry trends, 2013.

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