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Travel industry is a ‘Game of Phones’ according to Google

November 4, 2014

Almost half of daily media consumption is on a mobile device nowadays, according to Google research announced at ITB Asia.

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“Any company without a strong mobile presence is operating in the same manner as shutting down their website for half a day every day,” said Ayesha d’Souza, account manager at Google Singapore, “We check our phones 150 times a day.”

On average, 35% of all search queries for hotels in the Asia Pacific region are from mobile devices as of July 2014. By mid-2015, this average figure will reach 50% – but for Japan and Indonesia, it is already there.

Fifty percent of smartphone users use their mobile for planning trips, by using metasearch and browsing blogs or social media, but booking via mobile is much less popular. Approximately 30% of people in the region still call to complete a reservation.

“Forty four percent of travellers share their experiences online and 73% are inspired by what others share when it comes to travel,” continued d’Souza. “Therefore, not being present means you are cutting yourself out of 73% of people potentially considering your product.”

d’Souza’s top recommendations for mobile development are “make it fast, usable and beautiful” and goes on to explain that publishers have a maximum of four seconds for content to load before the average user gives up.

Usability considerations include the number of fields a user must fill in – again, four is the maximum and any data that can be pre-populated should be – and flexibility, such as debit card payments or even offline payments at a local shop. As for ‘being beautiful’, content should be clutter-free to simplify the user interface.

The most popular apps for travel are those that offer useful, relevant and local content, search as exchange rate information and maps. Local content is what keeps users engaged, and hotel owners are in a unique position because they know all about their city.

A mobile app should not feature all the same information as a mobile website. “Mobile sites are for the masses where your mobile app should serve your loyal customers,” explained d’Souza.

“As such, a hotel app should have services that your visitors need – including mobile check-in and check-out, a room service function, and anything to make the visitor’s stay as easy as possible when they actually arrive at the property.”

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