As a small tourism owner and operator, you’ll know how important it is to meet your customers where they are in how they choose to browse, research and purchase tours or excursions. As someone who’s in the business of providing experiences to curious and engaged tourists, you’re looking to get more bookings and run your tours more effectively in the process.
Mobile booking in tourism allows you to do this and more, meeting your potential customers’ tour and activity needs no matter their location, while promoting a user-friendly experience and enhancing mobile SEO for your website.
Today, we’ll be addressing the popularity and benefits of targeting mobile bookings, as well as mobile booking trends in tourism you might expect to see in 2023.
How popular are mobile bookings for tours and activities today?
As social media users expand their travel in 2023, more and more guests will be turning to their smartphones for travel research and by extension, mobile travel bookings.
The global market for mobile travel bookings is expected to increase by 12.2% during the period of 2021 to 2029. The continued growth in the number of smartphone users by way of increased disposable income, in tandem with the launch of new and improved mobile devices, are a couple reasons for the significant growth in mobile travel bookings.
What are the benefits of targeting mobile bookings?
There are many benefits to targeting mobile travel bookings in particular. In a smartphone connected world, mobile bookings can enhance your small tourism business and help you stand out in a sea of experiential tour operators.
Let’s explore a few other benefits of targeting mobile bookings.
Mobile bookings personalize your guest experience
From the moment your customers begin browsing on their smartphone to the time they checkout with their chosen tour or excursion, the mobile version of your website and subsequent mobile bookings, are prime opportunities for you to personalize and engage with potential guests.
When you deliver guests a seamless and succinct mobile interface to book their chosen activity, alongside a diverse range of payment options, you’re meeting customers where they are, catering to their needs and personalizing their experience.
By targeting mobile bookings, you’re also increasing guest loyalty. From start to finish, the entire lifespan of the user journey is about creating a beautiful mobile booking experience. This ensures your guests feel well taken care of and that they made the right choice in selecting you as their tour operator. As a result, they feel more inclined to book with you again, as well as refer their friends and family to you.
Mobile bookings adapt to the mindset of potential guests
Recent insights from Booking.com concluded that mobile searcher intent saw last-minute travel terminologies like “tonight” and “today” increase by 150% over a two-year span. While many of us tend to take our time in researching and pondering our tour options, there is another segment of tour-seekers who book impulsively either by nature or due to time constraints, seeking a need to take immediate action in the process.
Your potential guests want fast, accurate and detailed information but they don’t want to go hunting for it. That’s where mobile bookings (and your ability to tap into them!) come in.
The immediate nature and delivery of information via our smartphones adapts to the mindset and impulsivity of your potential tour-goers. Once again, your mobile bookings allow you to meet your guests where they are in their buyer journey, delivering the accurate information they need at the speed they want.
What are the risks of ignoring mobile bookings?
Meeting your customers where they are is about keeping informed of trends and updates related not only to mobile bookings, but to online bookings as a whole and other crucial pieces of data that can help you run your small business like clockwork.
But what happens when you don’t take mobile bookings into account?
While the idea of mobile bookings can be daunting, especially if you haven’t fully optimized your website for mobile users or aren’t what many would consider “tech-savvy”, ignoring mobile bookings can do more harm than good to your business.
GlobalNewsWire reported the number of smartphones globally increased from 1.57 billion in 2014, to 2.53 billion in 2018. While it can be intimidating or tedious to begin implementing mobile bookings as part of your routine or to optimize your existing set-up, it can really make a difference in reaching new customers who are continuing to join the realm of smartphone users.
And your booking system can help. The best online booking systems offer pre-built, mobile-friendly booking websites, so you can focus on providing the best tours and activities you can.
There’s also potential risk in focusing strictly on one part of your customer’s mobile booking journey while disregarding others. 54% of surveyed users switched to mobile search offerings as a means to survey tour and activity options upon arrival at their destination.
In other words, you might miss out on a significant number of mobile bookings if you strictly focus your attention on the pre-arrival stage of research and reservations while ignoring the post-arrival.
Not only is it about adapting your selling strategies depending on if your customers are shopping via their desktop or mobile devices. It’s also about shifting your focus to consider where your customers are located at the time of their booking.
How to capture more mobile business
With all this talk about mobile bookings and the potential risks of letting your own mobile bookings fall by the wayside, how do you go about capturing more mobile business?
Here are a few ways you can increase mobile booking traffic to your website while keeping in mind the importance of creating a beautiful and seamless guest experience.
Market to consumers in your immediate vicinity
While out-of-town visitors might make up a huge component of your customer base, there is untapped potential in marketing and promoting to residents of your city or region.
Mobile searches for “things to do/activities near me” saw a 6 time increase within the last two years. Widening your scope to those travelers in your immediate area is a great way to boost your bottom line, especially in the shoulder season or off season.
Review your current mobile set-up
Capturing more mobile bookings might also look like turning inwards to review your website’s mobile booking capabilities, and making your website mobile friendly. The good news is there are a few tweaks you can apply to make your tourism booking website work for you and your mobile visitors.
For one, optimize your search capabilities by placing a search box above the fold on your homepage and auto-correcting typos that commonly appear on mobile.
Alternatively, enabling your browsing and check-out processes to fit a mobile screen tailored to mobile form design strategies, can also improve your travel booking process for smartphone users. If you want to take it further, performing A/B testing for optimizing your website and engaging best web practices are great ways to ensure your website meets mobile booking standards.
Optimize your payment options and check-out process
One final way to capture more mobile business is by shortening and speeding up the check out process. As we touched upon, potential mobile visitors to your website can be impulsive in their buying decisions. Quickening the pace at which customers can browse, select and purchase your tour packages can enhance your mobile business. When choosing a booking system, consider those that reduce the number of steps your customers need to take to check out.
Lastly, highlight prior purchasing information of returning customers, and work with systems and payment gateways that offer handy mobile payment options, like PayPal or Apple Pay. The less energy (and the less taps!) it takes for your customer to proceed throughout the entirety of their mobile journey with you, the better.
Up-and-coming mobile booking trends
If you want to stay in the know about up-and-coming mobile travel booking trends, we have two that you should keep an eye on. While tourism technology trends may come and go, a brilliant user experience for mobile bookings and smartphone users never goes out of style.
We’ve touched upon the importance of offering diverse and mobile payment options throughout this article, so it’s no surprise that mobile payments will continue to be a trend we see in 2023.
Simply put, mobile or digital payment options provide your tour-goers a safer purchasing experience. Your potential customers need less effort to purchase their tour or excursion via their smartphone, once again emphasizing your seamless user journey.
Mobile pay services especially benefit small business owners like independent tour guides and small experience operators since they often have low transaction fees. Plus, you have more control over data tracking related to your customer’s purchase and your overall mobile performance.
Travel through social media
Whether it’s for the purpose of seeking out inspiration, conducting research or making actual bookings, travel inspired by social media will continue to be on the rise in 2023.
On average, 52% of travelers decided to book a particular tour or excursion after seeing an image or video on Instagram shared by a friend or family member. This highlights the importance of social sharing and mobile marketing for small tour operators now and in the future.
Repurposing existing content towards future content strategies and campaigns will pay it forward, continuing to inspire and engage your customers. Invite current tour-goers to join in the conversation by asking them to tag your tour company on their social channels, in turn generating even more content that pays its own way.