Why apps are worth the effort for travel

Criteo’s Jon Hudson pens a guest post to share data gleaned from analysing billions of travel transactions

That consumer browsing and buying behaviour of travel is changing is now fact. In many places, the days of researching and booking a holiday on a single device is a thing of a past. We know this from analysing billions of travel buyer transactions that travel buyers hop from one device to another to view the same destination.

This behaviour is particularly marked in the US where nearly four-in-ten transactions involve multiple devices, and a third are completed on a mobile device. But it’s a similar story elsewhere, according to our regular Mobile Commerce Report, which finds that in many countries at least half of all transactions are now cross device.

The mobile app story is shaping up well for advertisers too – well for those that are properly funded and managed. Here is why:

  • Apps generate as much as 54% of mobile bookings for advertisers!

  • They also perform better than the mobile web at all points on the path to purchase

  • App users spend more per sale than both mobile and desktop bookers - a huge opportunity for travel brands.


But, and this is a very big but, with so many apps out there, the competition for real estate on a user’s smartphone is tough and its only getting more competitive.   

More and more firms are moving to mobile and more people are using mobile devices to book. From Criteo’s Travel Flash Report here are some things you may need to know:

  • Mobile accounts for most of the overall growth in travel bookings, as the share of mobile booking has doubled worldwide

  • The booking device of choice depends on many factors including time of day, day of the week, duration of stay and type of travel

  • Smartphones account for a remarkable 47% of same-day hotel bookings (58% if tablets are included)

  • Globally, South Korea leads the world, where 61% of transactions involve multiple devices prior to purchase followed by Brazil, Italy the UK and Japan. In the US the number is 37%!


Still work to do

Not every mobile opportunity has yet been tapped. For example, we have found that there is still some hesitancy on really large ticket items. 

People booking a package holiday and spending over $10,000, are still potentially less likely to complete that purchase on a mobile device. So package holidays are one of the few travel segments where we see a bigger share of bookings happening on tablet versus the smartphone.

Sometimes device maturity within a specific social group or country can also hold people back from booking via mobile. But that is changing rapidly with the rate at which devices are being released, not to mention the addition of technologies like Google Wallet and Apple Pay. These mean that purchasing travel on mobile devices is only getting easier and more intuitive.

As already mentioned, 54% of travel mobile bookings occur in an app. However, building an app that users want to use repeatedly is tough. So what we see today is that increasing numbers of travel brands are adding content to their apps or functionality like the option to check-in or open their room.

App users can be fickle, so having an app that has multiple uses is likely to retain that users attention and space on their device for longer.   

But apps are still only one piece of the puzzle. What is crucial is that users are recognised across the devices they are using and receive consistent, personalised messages regardless of their last interaction. Users don’t care that your business is organised by channels, they expect you to tell a consistent story to them across all touch points.

Jon Hudson is head of Sales for Mobile, Americas at Criteo, a sponsor of a recent EyeforTravel event. His post appears here as part of the sponsorship package

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