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Data-driven personalisation, mobile and search will be among the opportunities and challenges for travel in 2017, says a new EyeforTravel whitepaper

Understanding the travel consumer´s path to purchase is a tricky business, finds a brand new white paper from EyeforTravel. In partnership with data analytics firm Jumpshot, EyeforTravel has tracked the path to purchase of 250,000 consumers across five countries to understand some of the variables at play, and with some interesting results.

Perhaps unsurprisingly is the understanding of the importance of data driven personalisation. If customers are coming at you from different devices, knowing exactly who they are, what they are looking for and where they have come from is going to be crucial to conversions.

Indeed, 78% of travel firms believe this will be 2017’s game changer versus just 14% for API led distribution partnerships, 5% for blockchain technology and 2% conversational commerce. Aside from breaking down silos of internal data and getting departments to work more closely together, a top priority will be establishing of a single customer ID.

In the UK, Germany, North America and Brazil, Jumpshot data shows that conversions are still higher on a desktop for OTAs, hotels and airlines.

But while the desktop and laptop remain leaders in the booking journey today, the white paper argues that “this will continue to diminish, with the smartphone being the big winner”.

Mobile is, by some margin, still viewed as the biggest opportunity

In fact it is widely agreed that mobile is coming of age and in both North America and Europe (plus 70%), mobile is, by some margin, still viewed as the biggest opportunity. Much hyped artificial intelligence is number four on this list (after content & digital marketing and social media) with just 21% of European brands and 26.5% of North American firms viewing this as a major opportunity.

Market by market there are some interesting findings too. In both the UK and Germany, where mobile penetration is high, 49.9% and 62.1% respectively still prefer to book travel on a desktop or laptop. In the UK, the next most popular device for booking is the tablet browser but just 17.3% of users still do so in this way.

Across geographies age is a factor to consider with millennials being by far the most comfortable with researching and booking travel on a mobile platform. In Brazil, China and India, in particular, there is a notable difference between the numbers of 18-34 year olds owning a smart versus those over the age of 35.

Scary search trends

In an omnichannel world one of the biggest challenges will be understanding exactly which sites a customer visited before conversion, and the predominance of search and spend on search engine marketing is an area that needs more consideration.

In Jumpshot’s web tracking nine out of ten travel purchasers used a search engine in the 15 sites before purchase

In Jumpshot’s web tracking nine out of ten travel purchasers used a search engine in the 15 sites before purchase. With the exception of Germany (which scored just slightly lower), this was consistent across all markets and travel industry verticals. With Google moving higher and higher up the travel booking funnel in flight and hotel search this is something that will need greater attention in 2017.

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