Each year as technology evolves, so does the way that travelers interact with the internet. Because of this, it is important for travel companies and tour operators to pay attention to the latest travel industry, mobile, and online travel trends.
Keeping a grip on the latest trends shaping the industry helps your travel brand to stay on top of what is on demand. Not only will you know how travelers are booking and what they are searching for, but you will also be able to use that knowledge to shape your offering to meet the needs of your target market.
We have collated some interesting trends and statistics from various authoritative sources in the industry so that you have an idea of the latest online travel trends shaping the marketplace in 2018.
Online Travel Trends
Booking Experiences Online
Skift put together research on some of the major digital bookings sites and found that Online Travel Marketplaces only make up 4% of tours and experiences reservations worldwide. They found the majority of these types of sales are in fact made offline or by direct website sales.
That being said, for those interested in utilizing online travel agencies (OTA’s), their research analysis found that Viator to be the dominant OTA. Not only do they have the greatest number of listings, but also as the greatest number of listings in the top one hundred travel destinations.
People Trust Reviews
Think about the last time you booked a hotel online – you probably read the reviews on it to determine whether or not to go ahead with the booking.
A survey conducted by Trust You, a hotel guest feedback platform, affirms this. Their research into online travel trends showed that reviews influence 95% of booking decisions. Additionally, a study conducted by PhoCus Wright for TripAdvisor found that 53% of travelers will only commit to a booking once they have read reviews.
It goes without saying then that it is now more important than ever for travel companies to grow a stellar review profile, as this in turn builds trust with travelers.
Travelers Are More Open To Using AI
Although you need to be careful not to overuse Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example chatbots, studies have shown that travelers are more open to interacting with the technology now.
TechRadar reports that 80% of travelers using Booking.com do so on a self-serve basis. So travelers want to be in charge of making their booking, but as the travel company, you need to maintain a level of personalization too.
Therefore, the ideal meeting point of the two is found somewhere between efficient AI automation and human interaction.
Mobile Travel Trends
Bookings On Mobile
More and more people are getting comfortable using their phones to make travel bookings. Consumer insights with Google report that mobile phones are being used throughout the whole travel process.
The report shows that not only are travelers using mobile to research destinations, hotels, and experiences but also to book, as well as plan, while at their destination. 70% of the U.S. respondents admitted to using their phone for all booking and planning functions when traveling, a figure that is up 41% from 2015.
It is therefore important for travel companies and tour operators to use website templates that are compatible across desktop, mobile, and tablet platforms for travelers to access from any device.
Travelport Digital put together some extensive research and found that 18% of the travel brands they analyzed make use of a Progressive Web App (PWA). For those that didn’t have one, 28% of them planned to invest in building one in 2018.
They also discovered that 60% of their respondents perform all searches on mobile. Additionally, a hefty 85% of time spent on mobile was using an app. With the way that technology is progressing, it seems clear that using mobile apps will feature even more prominently in online travel trends.
Using Voice Over Touch
Using voice to command search on mobile may soon become more prominent than using touch to navigate according to another insight from Travelport Digital. 40% of their respondents reported using voice search once a day.
Google insights reiterate that nearly 70% of voice requests using Google Assistant are using natural language. Essentially this means people are getting more comfortable with the idea of talking to a machine.
Travel Industry Trends
Last Minute Bookings Are On The Rise
As travel websites have become more efficient and booking processes more streamlined, travelers tend to make more last-minute bookings than they did over previous years. Websites that use online payments will benefit the most from this, as their ability to offer real-time reservations secures the deal.
Trekksoft took a look at an unpublished report by PhoCus Wright which revealed that 38% of bookings were made on the same day or two days prior to taking a trip. Secondly, 53% of trip bookings were made within a week of the trip date. Finally, only 19% of bookings were made a month in advance.
Evidently, travelers are picking up on last minute hotel, flight or accommodation deals when they see them. With this in mind, making your offering available to last minute or impulse buyers will benefit your ability to generate revenue for your company.
Solo Travel Is An Increasingly Prominent Trend
If you are using travel industry trends to focus your travel offering, then it would be disadvantageous to ignore solo travel trends.
Solo Traveler World reports that Google searches for the terms solo travel and travel alone hit an all-time high at the beginning of this year. Searches were up 25% from the same time in 2017.
It’s not just domestic travel either, the same report highlights popular solo travel destinations in the UK, the US, Europe, Thailand, as well as Africa. Travelers are not letting their solo status stop them from visiting their bucket list spots all over the world.
While this is not a comprehensive list of the latest travel trends, we have touched on a couple of the more prominent ones in this article.
As a key takeaway, it is important to note that mobile and online travel trends highlight a rise in the use of mobile when booking, as well as indicate that an increasing number of last-minute bookings now take place.
Ultimately, to get in on these industry trends and shape your travel business for the future, your travel offering needs to meet travelers demands needs and fulfill the desired outcomes.