The travel industry is seeing growth in sales coming from mobile devices. What does this mean for affiliate marketers?

Mobile devices have been impacting the way shoppers find, research, and buy new products for awhile now. The changes have ranged from the impact that mobile has had on verticals, to the effect smartphones have had on seasonal shopping, and even the way consumers behave during the buying process (such as showrooming and webrooming).

A new report by eMarketer shows the continued effect that mobile devices are having on the marketing landscape. Notably, eMarketer found that mobile devices were driving the growth of online travel bookings.

The above chart shows the comparison between mobile device travel booking sales in billions and compares it to desktop/laptop sales. This year specifically, mobile devices will account for 40% of all travel sales. The travel industry as a whole, according to eMarketer, is up 16.7% from last year. eMarketer predicts that “by 2021, mobile will represent nearly half of all digital travel sales.”

Additionally, because eMarketer defines “mobile” as both smartphones and tablets, the article broke down consumer behavior even further.

The graph shows that by 2021 77.6% of mobile device users will use a smartphone at least once to book travel, and 51.8% will use a tablet. What’s significant is that this isn’t just the preference of mobile bookers – it’s a huge majority of travelers. The growth in travel will help fuel this trend, as eMarketer predicts that by 2020 we will see the travel industry see $200 billion dollars in sales for the calendar year, and half of that ($100 billion) will come from mobile.

The article also notes that “US adults are not just booking trips via mobile, but they are increasingly researching trips as well.”

Travel, Mobile, and the Affiliate Marketing Channel

This trend is exciting for consumers and marketers, but not a surprise. In fact, it’s already being recognized in the affiliate channel.

Tucker Erickson, an Account Manager at the Rakuten Affiliate Network, works with some big travel clients. When asked about these trends, he said they were definitely being seen.

Erickson noted that one prominent client saw a 160% increase in mobile traffic and 22% growth in mobile bookings. Additionally, loyalty programs offered by the advertiser has seen growth through their mobile app as well.

“The leadership team [of the client] has put a very strong emphasis on mobile/apps this year,” Erickson said. One client, a hotel client, was noted for their expansion in using mobile devices to create more convenience for their customers. This ranged from using the mobile device to order services (such as room service) or buying a movie, to even using the phone as a key to access the room.

These advancements in mobile creates a huge opportunity in affiliate for both travel advertisers and publishers. Advertisers in travel industries will need to be mobile conscious. This ranges from having a functional app (if necessary) to ensuring a seamless booking experience on a range of devices. Advertisers should also consider attribution tools for greater customer insights.

For publishers, the focus should be making sure mobile accessibility is in place. Travel bloggers should have their content optimized for a mobile device, for example, so that images and videos render nicely in their content without jarring the written content. Additionally, programs (such as loyalty and rewards, or cashback) will need to take the buying process of a mobile traveler into account. Seamlessness experiences are critical, and if you have omnichannel capabilities all the better.

The growth of mobile devices in the travel industry is promising, and we’ll continue to track and explore this trend. If you want more information on the travel vertical in affiliate marketing, be sure to check out our blog post exploring the relationship between the travel industry and content publishers by clicking here.