Travel firms needs to pump resources into mobile to tap in to the continuing rise in business through smart phones and apps, the Travolution Summit heard.
A debate on summer trading, chaired by Criteo’s commercial director Jon Lord, led on to how 26% of travel bookings are now done through mobile phones and on apps.
To maximise incremental revenue, Holiday Pirates’ Tony Rosa suggested all firms that haven’t already looked into the mobile market should do.
“For us it [mobile] is hugely important,” Rosa said. “To give you all an idea, 65% of our traffic is on mobile, 10% on tablet and 25% desktop.
“But what we are finding is that a lot of websites in the travel industry are not mobile-optimised and people here [The Travolution Summit] should look at that if they haven’t already.”
He added that the Holiday Pirates app has had 850,000 downloads with 200,000 active users each month.
“It’s hugely important,” he continued. “And where we are going to focus a lot of our efforts for 2017.”
Dave Cruickshank, chief executive of reservation and e-commerce platform ATCORE, agreed, saying that 44% of in-trip bookings are made on a mobile device.
But he said customers across the world are different.
“You should have all the channels,” he said. “The UK, Germany, Scandinavia, they all have different habits.
Rosa pointed out that Thomson has created an in-destination app and Cruickshank said airlines are looking at in-flight sales on mobile.
Instant messenger programmes are also beginning to factor into customer relations, the panellists said.
Rosa said Facebook and Whatsapp are being used by Holiday Pirates to speak to their readers and that big retail is already doing the same.
Cruickshank said Chinese chat programme We Chat is worth exploring too, but security is a big issue and any travel company using new tech to interact with customers “can’t take their eye off that”.