Marketers: are you equipped to handle the heat in 2017?

Online accommodation booking concept. Smartphone and system  hotel reservations on the screen. 3d

Criteo’s Commercial Director, Pressy Sankaran shares insights on what marketers can expect in 2017 in this guest post.

At this time of the year, marketers need a solid understanding of the key trends in online bookings across all different platforms in order to keep up with demand and convert sales.

In an omnichannel world, the path to purchase is always changing. Having this understanding can put a brand in good stead for maximising sales and making the most of consumer behaviour, potentially putting them ahead of other competitors in the industry.

Here are a few things for marketers to consider during the upcoming summer travel season:

Smartphones take bookings to an all-new level

Globally, close to one-third of online travel bookings worldwide took place on mobile devices in Q2 2016, up from 24% one year before, according to a recent Criteo report. Australia tallied one-third of online bookings via mobile versus about a quarter last year.

As a result, smart online travel sites are continuing to optimise their websites and apps, making it easy for people to book wherever and whenever they want. However, travel brands need to keep investing and boosting efforts into smart-phone based platforms.

Mobile will continue to play an instrumental role in the future of the travel industry. Travellers are even beginning to book more expensive packages on smartphones in Australia, which provides a huge opportunity for travel brands to increase their revenue.

Those who prepare and adapt quickly will have the best chance of outstripping the competition and keeping customers.

Consumers are making late-night last-minute bookings

Not only are consumers increasingly booking across different platforms, but they’re also booking last-minute and later in the day according to Criteo research.

Globally, about half of all hotel bookings are made within 24 hours before check-in, and almost a third of next-day bookings are made via smartphone. ‘Smartphone travellers’ are utilising mobile sites and apps to book parts of their trip, while they’re already on holiday.

Gone are the days where travelers would book the ins and outs of their holiday a year in advance. Consumers want to be able to make travel bookings with a degree of spontaneity — nearly one in two smartphone travelers confirm that they made a booking while already traveling.

Travel brands need to be visible at all times and create a ready-to-book, seamless experience across all platforms, especially for last minute, on the spot bookings. It’s also important to showcase sophisticated payment security throughout the process but ensure that the transaction process is simple and quick in the end.

The path to purchase can be longer than you think

For bookings that take a longer decision process — like finding the right hotel — it’s likely that travellers will use several devices, and visit a site numerous times.

Brands need to master the path to booking by adopting a user-centric view of the customer journey whilst remaining visible throughout the selection and booking process. It’s important to make the most of each website visit with personalised offers and recommendations.

Marketers should accurately measure online activity and use cross-device attribution to make sure they’re effectively using different platforms and channels. The time to act is now if travel brands want to make use of the upcoming summer season!

Pressy Sankaran is Commercial Director of performance marketing company Criteo, which helps businesses increase ROI and drive conversions across devices.

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