For those of you who read my last post on travel digital marketing trends back at the end of 2014, you might be surprised to know that, even in the space of a few years, how consumers research and book leisure travel continues to change. 60% of consumers claim that travel is their largest discretionary purchase of the year-trumping home improvements, financial investments or health-related products1. So this important decision is given lots of thought and online research. This isn’t another post dubbing mobile as “the next big thing”. Mobile is here already. This is a post exploring how mobile technology is fostering new consumer behaviours dominating the travel industry.


Travel digital marketing trend: Consumers switch devices from mobile to research across to desktop to book

60% of travel searches start on a mobile device2

Google describes the modern customer journey as being made up of “micro-moments” which are real time, intent driven opportunities for brands to become present and useful to consumers. Consumers don’t wait until they get home anymore they simply reach into their pocket and take action there and then on a mobile.

94% of leisure travellers switch between devices as they plan or book a trip3

It’s hardly surprising that customers tend to switch between devices given the extent of the research both in number of searches and period of time that this research is spread over typically. Below is research conducted by Google looking at one “typical” leisure travellers journey from research to purchase of a holiday – over 700 digital touchpoints in total!


Image source: Think with Google

Consumers are taking any spare moment at their disposal to research their next holiday. UK research from Hitwise shows that consumers rely more heavily on mobile for early stages of research with 83% of “best time to visit” searches happening on mobile6. Furthermore 68% of “flights from” searches take place on mobile devices4.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty of price comparison only 12% of travel searches around financial research topics happened on mobile5. The main concern for leisure travellers is that they haven’t found the best deal using solely mobile devices. 69% of leisure travellers worry that they’re not finding the best price or making the best decision1. The research very much indicates that laptops are used for “double checking” pre-researched information in more detail and then actually booking. This makes total sense when you consider the financial investment and personal risk from travelling to foreign climes.

Research from Deloitte indicated that 20% of consumers who researched holidays on their mobiles go on to book on their smartphones6. Whilst this number remains relatively low at the moment, this it would suggest that the budget research being of more personal importance to leisure travellers. Whatever the causes behind these percentages, as consumers become more confident with mobile technologies and brands continue to enhance the mobile experience this figure is certain to grow.

Travel digital marketing trend: The spontaneous traveller


Whilst a large amount of research takes place on consumers’ mobile devices before the holiday is booked, much research around places to eat and things to do on holiday, actually happens when people arrive on holiday.

  • 85% of leisure travellers decide on activities after having arrived at their destination7
  • 1 in 2 international travellers use smartphones to research things to do once they’ve arrived8

The growing percentage of spontaneous leisure travellers are highly susceptible to deals. With a growing consumer trend toward “experiences” use deals to encourage travellers to be spontaneous, try something new or upgrade.

Mobile has encouraged new last-minute booking behaviours

  • 30% would take a trip when they hadn’t planned to take9
  • 25% would go to a destination they’re not familiar with9
  • 25% would consider booking a last minute flight9
  • 32% would book a hotel they’re unfamiliar with9

Travel digital marketing trend: Trouble in paradise for the comparison engine

Driven to cater for a mobile audience, Google are launching Google Flights. Google Flights presents the searcher with everything from handy destination inspiration, to saving and tracking flights and when it’s time to book, users are taken directly to the flight operator’s website. 


Image source:

Unsurprisingly Google is taking a similar approach to hotel bookings where users can compare multiple hotels without leaving Google. The trend seems very clearly to be that Google is looking to provide users with an efficient end to end holiday booking experience without consumers feeling they need to leave their mobile on the side and check prices on a desktop.

Google isn’t stopping there, the search giant wants to be your go-to app for spontaneous mobile research whilst your on holiday with the app Google Trips.

For now, Google is taking this direct approach to connect consumer and airline so there are opportunities here for travel brands to be found in search more easily without the immense competition of the comparison engines.

Thanks for reading

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