The importance of developing a successful mobile strategy was high on the agenda at yesterday’s Travolution Question Time at Travel Technology Europe 2012.
The event, supported by Textlocal.com, discussed how travel companies should approach the integration of mobile into their business and what strategies they should adopt to develop a mobile campaign.
The Question Time panel, which included Joel Brandon Bravo of Travelzoo UK, Andrew Nicholson of Traveltainment, Jason Palgrave-Jones of Textlocal and Brian O’Farrell of Google, concluded that although the transfer to mobile can be difficult and the constraints and shifts are likely to change over the next 18 months, developing a mobile plan remains a prerequisite for long-term travel business success.
“We’re definitely striving to be a mobile-first company,” said Google’s Brian O’Farrell. “And you can certainly pick areas that we’re still trying to get there with. Success is going to be based on starting from the user base that you have, looking at your analytics, understanding what your users want to get out of the mobile site and trying to understand if the user’s going to be a new user, a current user, or whether it is more about loyalty.
“In terms of Google being mobile first, the recent products we’ve launched, especially Google Plus, are a great example of how we try to maintain those features. But we still have a little way to go until we get there.”
Joel Brandon Bravo, managing director at Travelzoo, said Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad has been instrumental in driving other vendors to deliver new products, and said conversion rates on mobile devices were rising.
“We found that the conversion rates on an iPad are nearly twice that of what they are on an iPhone. Yes, other tablets than the iPad do have a lower entry point, but what Apple has done is help early adopters to see how trustworthy these things can be, and then everyone else follows. You can just see how much quicker the rest of the world follows Apple now.”
Jason Palgrave Jones, business development and client services director at Textlocal, said the learnings on developing a mobile site were becoming much more apparent.
“For us at Textlocal, I think the learnings from that have been very clear. Keep it simple. Make sure it’s rich in content. But be aware of the constraints you’re operating under with regard to mobile phone technology.”
He added that in driving greater mobile opportunities in travel, there was an onus on travel suppliers, including hotels, to use the mobile channel to deliver additional value for the customer.
Andrew Nicholson, managing director of Traveltainment, pointed out that whether customers will buy from their mobile device depends somewhat on the product that people are looking to purchase and how easy you make the process.
“If it’s a very simple purchase transaction, then you want to keep it simple, because that’s what people want to in that journey – click that box and get off and get done. Whereas if they’re using the iPad, or a smart tablet device – and there’s going to be a proliferation of those – people still do want to research with rich content.
“So, keeping it simple is absolutely right for today because of the constraints with some technology and some of the purchase processes. But if you want to combine more than one component, then you do have to make it much richer and more available. People will use different devices at the right time to suit their lifestyle.”