ABTA have now released their report into the holiday habits of UK consumers for 2016 and it is a very interesting read.
Despite the ever increasing terrorist threats, UK consumers still want to travel – albeit sometimes to alternative locations – but they still greatly value their annual holidays which is good news for Travel and Tourism organisations.
The statistics that interest us most – and which you should pay careful attention to if you’re a travel company yourself – is the method people use to book their holiday. As many as 76% of people booked their holiday online in 2016 with the PC being the most popular choice. 23% booked using a tablet and 13% used their mobile phone. Out of the 13% who used a mobile for their booking – a whopping 56% said that the process was difficult compared to booking on a PC.
What does this mean for Travel Companies?
You need a strong web presence across all devices
If 76% of UK consumers are booking holidays online, you need to make sure that your web presence is strong and that customers can easily find you in the first place – you certainly can’t rely on the remaining 24% calling you or walking through your door.
You need a mobile-friendly website which can be used on all devices. 80% of internet users now own a smartphone and the average web activity is now 50.62% mobile. This means that mobile has over taken PC/desktop browsers across the board for the first time since the beginning of the internet and this trend will only continue. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile use, you are missing out on some serious business. You can check if your current site is mobile friendly here.
As well as a mobile friendly site, you will need to invest time in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as well as your marketing activities to make sure that you appear in relevant internet searches.
It is also worth checking to see where you appear in relevant searches. If you do not have access to Google Analytics, the best way of doing this is to use the incognito mode in Google Chrome (so that your previous browsing history and trends do not affect the results). You can do this by:
- In the top-right corner of the browser window, select the Menu (computer) or More (mobile).
- Select New Incognito Window(computer) or New incognito tab (mobile).
- A new window will open with the Incognito icon
Once you’re Incognito, carry out a few searches and see if and where you appear, and who your competition is.
Make sure the user experience (UX) is seamless
People hate websites that are difficult to use. If the website takes too long to load or the information they need isn’t easy to find, they won’t waste time trying to use your site.
- The average time a user will wait for a page to load is between 0.5 and 2 seconds.
- People will not return to a website that took more than 4 seconds to load
Amazon found every 100ms of page delay cost them 1% in sales. A broker could lose $4 million in revenues per millisecond if their electronic trading platform is 5 milliseconds behind the competition.
You must make sure that your website provides the best user experience (UX) possible to make booking with you a simple, enjoyable process.
Have you tried using your own site? Give it a go and see if you need to make any improvements.
Stay on the right side of Google
You should make sure that you have a valid SSL certificate on your website. If you’re not sure – just take a look at your URL. If it says Https you’re good to go – if it just says http then you need to get a certificate and have it installed by your web providers. 25% of SSL-enabled websites sit within the page-1 results on google.
You are penalised by google if your website doesn’t sit within their guidelines and in 2017 if you’re not on SSL it’ll be game over for your SEO.
Online Booking should be easy
This ties in with the user experience and sounds straight forward – but unfortunately it often is not. If booking a holiday ends up being stressful – it defeats the object of what the consumer is trying to achieve! Your website should have an easy-to-use booking engine that allows the customer to find, book and pay for the holiday of their choice.
The PC is still the most favourable choice of device for booking holidays online because people find it easier – but it is possible to allow your customers to book with you on their mobile – and to provide an enjoyable experience of this (which many holiday companies seem to fail on). To back this up, even further, Google have released their own report which shows that consumers carry out most of their research on their mobile device. On weekends, mobile queries related to travel outweigh those on desktops. They then tend to revert back to their desktop to make the actual booking though.
You can definitely use this statistic to your advantage – investing in a user-friendly mobile booking system could set you far ahead of the competition.
Another option to consider is adding an additional dimension to your website. If you can allow customers to virtually ‘walk through’ your resorts to really get a feel for the place they are thinking of booking and spending their hard-earned cash on – wouldn’t this increase your bookings?
Planning for 2017
Going forward in 2017, the trends show that accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are going to be huge for news/article websites and they will help to greatly improve SEO. There will also be more focus on interactive content, videos and illustrations, with the goal being to provide maximum amount of information in a short space of time. If your website contains reams of text – it’s time for a change.
All of these points need to be considered carefully so you can make sure you keep up with the holiday booking trends which are turning increasingly online, increasingly mobile and need to be delivered as quickly as possible to customers.
If you need any advice, please get in touch with our Travel Development team – we’d love to help you achieve your goals for 2017.