Mobile Travel Bookings Continue to Surge: 3 Ways Tour Operators Can Adapt

Mobile Travel Bookings Continue to Surge: 3 Ways Tour Operators Can Adapt

Mobile usage is increasing exponentially, both on smartphones and tablets.

While this comes as no surprise, it is particularly important for those in the tourism industry to note that online bookings in particularly are one of the many activities that are now mainly made through these mobile devices.

Recent research undertaken by PhoCusWright found that the number of Americans who book travel online and on tablets increased by 40% than last year. They also found that those using tablets were 20% more likely to make a booking than those using smartphones.

PhoCusWright predicts that:

  • US sales of travel bookings via mobile devices will go from $6.15B in 2012 to $39.5B in 2015.
  • People will use OTAs and travel review sites like TripAdvisor more, and use general search engines (like Google) and deal focused sites (like Groupon) less.

While the stats above are about the US, this trend extends across the globe, including the lucrative Chinese market.

In fact, Qunar and Ctrip shared their earnings report with interesting facts on bookings made via mobile:

  • Ctrip said that over 70% of total transactions were booked through online and mobile channels, up by over 400% compared to the previous year.
  • Qunar’s mobile bookings increased 415% year on year, representing 32% of total revenues.

This lines up with the trend to travel “DIY” instead of going with a group and having your itinerary arranged for you. Travelers want to convenience – book from anywhere, and at any time.

So what can tour operators do to be prepared?

1. Have a mobile booking site, that is visually appealing

Tablets and smart phones are designed to give the end-user an excellent visual experience. Make sure that your mobile site includes high-resolution photographs and interesting videos to help keep the customer interested in what you have to offer.

On smart phones, speed is a priority. More than 60% of United States users want a smart phone site to load and work properly within 3 seconds or less. Tablet users are more leisurely, and want to enjoy video content on the mobile site.

The most prominent item on the screen should be the “Book Now” button, whether you are designing a mobile app or a mobile site for a tablet. The customer will want to be able to quickly and easily make the transaction  and reservation.

Users who are going to book on a mobile device are  ready to make their purchase — their decision has  already been made. Make it easy for them to create a  reservation with your company.

Remember the interface that the user will be using, and keep in mind the size of the user’s screen. For your mobile site on a smart phone, keep it as clean and simple as possible.

Users are dealing with a four-inch or smaller screen, and won’t want to deal with a cumbersome site. Add larger visuals, more options and extra buttons to  your tablet mobile site to help enhance the experience for the tablet user, who is more likely to spend more money with your company.

2. Give special offers to mobile bookings

Promotional items such as a free snack, drink ticket or complimentary parking will reward users for taking  advantage of your mobile site. This will help aid to your already favorable reputation as a tour and activity operator in the area.

It’s also worthwhile to work with daily deals sites to capture those users who are buying digital coupons online. Have a look at this infographic from VoucherCloud to see just how often they are being used by price-sensitive consumers:


When they’re on their mobiles and have bought a coupon, your customers should be able to instantly head to your site and make a booking.

First, your online booking software should allow for coupon management, so you can direct coupon-buyers to your product’s booking page. Then, your customers can self-serve and neither of you have the administrative hassle of booking them in.

3. SMS confirmation, reminders, follow ups

While it seems like such a simple tip, it’s not something that should be forgotten. The mobile phone is the #1 item brought on holiday. A lot of the time your customers will not having access to the internet via their phone, and they may be out and about.

Sending them texts to confirm a booking, remind them leading up to the big day, and ask for feedback following your tour is a smart way to make sure they see your message. After all, they probably have a lot emails already cluttering their inbox. Your online booking software provider should support this (Rezdy does).

Want more tips to inform your mobile strategy? Download our free ebook:

going mobile for tour operators ebook

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