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Secrets Revealed - Growing airline and travel revenue through mobile

There’s little doubt that the shift to mobile has happened and is set to accelerate. According to recent statistics, 51% of US travellers now prefer to book on a mobile device. This poses a challenge to travel businesses whose mobile strategy could be best characterised as ad hoc and slow-moving.

To unlock all the possibilities of mobile travel, brands need to do more than just ‘have an app’ and hope for adoption - and if they are to optimize revenue they must actively work to drive more engagement and improve conversion rates. 

With a clear mobile strategy there is potential for mobile revenue to overtake desktop as consumer behaviour evolves. However, mobile is a different animal to desktop eCommerce and should be treated as such. While there are some similarities, ultimately the differences are crucial to understand. 

Travel businesses that want to leverage mobile to its full potential must gain an understanding of a new set of strategies, tactics, analytics and data points that underpin it. We talked to Travelport Digital’s Digital Consultant Brendan Bourke about unleashing the full potential of mobile revenues, the core human behaviors that are driving adoption, and the importance of choosing the right mobile partner.

Q. Why is mobile commerce so important to airlines and travel brands?
Today more than ever airlines have a laser focus on driving incremental revenue streams, whether that’s via mobile or any other platform. Mobile however offers the potential to drive revenue in ways that are not possible via other channels. 

Q: What are some of the differences and similarities between desktop commerce and mobile commerce?
There are, of course, some similarities between both. For example, on both desktop and mobile airlines will seek to sell as many relevant ancillaries as they possibly can.

People with a web or eCommerce background might not know as much about app
specific driven revenues

On mobile however there are tactical possibilities that don’t exist on desktop. The fact that in most cases a traveller will always have their mobile with them post-booking means that their mobile device offers the route to timely and relevant communication in the run-up to and during their trip.

For example, on the day of travel, if there’s a premium economy seat available, a push notification could be sent to a passenger offering them a last minute upgrade. Similarly, offers can be made at the airport for fast-pass security and lounges. Another great area of opportunity is “in destination” where ancillary offers can be presented for ground transport, events or things to do. These are things that just cannot be done on on desktop.

Q: Why is removing friction so important in mobile travel and ancillary revenue sales?
Form filling and completing actions on mobile can be a little more challenging and users generally have a lower tolerance when booking on their mobile devices. It goes without saying then that travel businesses need to make the process as simple and as fast as possible. Credit card scanning and saved profiles are great examples of mobile friction removers.

Emerging technologies around voice and bots are also very much geared towards mobile-first usage and as they develop will act as further friction-removers.

Q: There are huge opportunities via mobile to sell more ancillaries, which comes with more responsibilities for any travel brand. What are the typical challenges that you help them overcome?
With mobile comes a smaller screen size and so this presents challenges for the flow and presentation of ancillaries. Simply presenting ancillaries in the same way as it’s done on desktop is not going to work. The danger of overloading a mobile booking flow with ancillary options is that the booking itself could be lost.

Presenting a whole lot of ancillary options exactly the way you do on web is not going to work - you’ve got to look at things a bit more cleverly

Travelport Digital has conducted a wealth of research into user behaviour on mobile in a travel context. We have UX and UI professionals who are 100% focussed on screen design, flows and driving conversions via mobile. We also have strategists who have a deep knowledge of the latest opportunities available on mobile operating systems and how they can be effectively applied.

Q: What are the other mistakes travel brands need to avoid when targeting revenue growth through mobile?
I think you have to be keep in mind the nature of mobile and the role it plays in a user’s life over and above everything else -  not just the fact that you’re trying to sell them something. Getting the timing and context right is important. Because of the personal nature of mobile, you’re going to cross the line of what’s acceptable much more easily than you would with more traditional web communication.

Airlines need to look at every opportunity to drive more revenue; for many of our customers driving revenue via mobile is one of the key objectives of their app. But they seek to achieve this objective while appreciating the personal nature of mobile engagement. Using the Travelport Digital Engage tool - a push messaging platform that sends contextual and personalised updates - one of our clients saw a spike of 300% more bookings in conjunction with a campaign.

Q: What do you think makes Travelport Digital a good partner to build a mobile revenue strategy?
Choosing a partner who innately understands mobile is key. Travelport Digital does not just build apps and mobile platforms. Beyond the technical aspects, we work with all our clients to help ensure their mobile strategy is a commercial success. The thought leadership and knowledge we bring to the table is based on that on fact we’ve driven over 33 million downloads of apps to date. We look to ensure that anyone who partners with us is a success story as well.

We structure our whole business around the four pillars approach: Acquisition, Engagement, Insights, and Monetization. The way in which we get people to become aware of the app, install the app, engage with the app, drive revenue with the app, is different. Through strong UX and app marketing best practice we help travel brands acquire users. We keep our clients’ users engaged with rich experiences and contextual messages. We provide deep insights into mobile behaviour so conversions and adoption can be enhanced. And finally, as we map out in this new guide, we help drive new revenue and ROI for our clients through powerful features and expertise in this critical area.

To summarise, a. We have the platform to do it; b. We have the tools to do it; c. We have the knowledge and understanding; d. If you want more valuable relationships with your customers you ought to talk to us.

Download the eBook "Secrets Revealed: Growing airline and travel revenues through mobile" to uncover strategies and tips to optimize on potential revenue. 

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Brendan Bourke - Digital Consultant

Brendan has over 18 years digital and mobile experience working on both the client and agency side. Prior to joining Travelport Digital, Brendan worked at both Aer Lingus and Emirates. At Travelport Digital Brendan works with customers on their mobile strategies with a specific focus on mobile marketing and engagement.

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