Earn more of your share of tourism dollars by understanding “digital micro-moments” of the travel customer journey

 
Hero Image
 

Digital Micro-Moments Are Reshaping the Travel Customer Journey

Today’s traveler researches a variety of resources online before booking a trip.  We call each of these digital “micro-moments” – and they refer to all of the different points on a traveler’s journey toward making their decision to spend money on a trip.

In fact, a trip was the largest discretionary purchase last year according to nearly 60% of leisure travelers.  And over 40% of travelers say they bounce back and forth between dreaming about and planning their next trip.  

The truth is, travelers will tell you that dreaming about their next big excursion is half the fun!  They will typically zoom in on the details for one destination and then zoom out to reconsider all of their options once again, tantalizing themselves with decisions like “do I want to go to the beach or to the mountains?”  “Do I want East Coast chic and glamour, or West Coast hippie outdoors?”

A fact you might not know however is that as of Q1 2016, 40% of U.S. travel site visits came from mobile.  What this teaches us is that travelers are increasingly turning to mobile in shorter spurts to make informed decisions faster than ever before.

For marketers, this has huge implications for the entire travel customer journey across devices and channels.

Travel Moments That Matter

Travel Moments That Matter

We like to say that there are four major moments in a traveler’s booking journey that really define the types of information they’re looking for on the internet.  We classify those as follows:

  • I Want To Get Away Moments (Dreaming Moments)
  • Time To Make A Plan Moments (Planning Moments)
  • Let’s Book It Moments (Booking Moments)
  • Can’t Wait To Explore Moments (Experiencing Moments)

So, in order to win in the leisure travel space, you’ve got to show up online when each of these different micro-moments happen.  You clearly can’t win their business if you’re not in the game. In order to do that, you must be providing relevant information to the traveler’s need in the micro-moments that shape the new travel customer journey.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these micro-moments, and look at real-world examples of consumer behavior at each moment.    

#1:  I-Want-To-Get-Away: Dreaming Moments

As we’ve said before, isn’t half the fun in traveling the process of dreaming up the destination?

Dreaming moments in the travel journey

New clickstream data from Luth Research opt-in panel (illustrating the pages a user visited, and in which order) provides a snapshot of what a real traveler’s I-want-to-get-away moments actually looked like.

So, to further illustrate a snapshot of a real traveler’s decision-making journey, meet Liam. Liam is 30 years old, and he’s not just planning one trip, but three: a vacation to Miami, a trip for his friends’ wedding in the Northeast U.S., and his own destination wedding in the Dominican Republic.

Travel planning moments

So it’s important that you know that video, mobile, and content play a BIG role in the Dreaming Moments:

    • 60% of destination searches happen on mobile devices
    • Monthly over 100 Million of YouTube’s unique visitors are travelers
    • 64% of people watch travel-related videos when thinking about a trip
    • 3 out of 5 travelers what online video to narrow down their destination or brand choice – about ⅔’s of the watch time is on a mobile device

#2:  Time-To-Make-A-Plan: Planning Moments

So here’s another snapshot of a real traveler’s decision-making journey.  Meet Gina. Gina is a middle-aged woman from Nevada, traveling to San Diego for a mothers’ conference. Her visit is both business and pleasure, and she’s looking for fun things to do with her child while in Southern California.

So in Gina’s situation, it’s critical that you show up when she researches specifics for a destination.  Certainly Search is the most common way travelers find the brand they will ultimately book with.

At this stage, Gina’s common searches will include hotels or accommodations at her destination, things to do, and flights in and out of her destination.

#3:  Let’s-Book-It: Booking Moments

Ultimately, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.  This Planning Moment is HUGE. People are now at a stage where they’re actually going to put their dollars behind all of the decisions they’ve been contemplating.

Once again, Search is what the traveler often turns to in this micro-moment.  And changing consumer behavior in these moments are shaping the U.S. travel industry.  

For example, 94% of leisure travelers switch between devices when planning/booking a trip.  This means that the “transaction” of booking the trip happens over time instead of all at once.  So because this process is often broken up, it’s critical that you do things like:

  • Simplify mobile booking with 1-click actions
  • Help consumers fill out forms by auto-filling as much as you can
  • Provide alternatives to completing the transaction online (click-to-call), in case the consumer becomes overwhelmed, or needs more information before completing the purchase.
  • Ensure that your mobile site and booking apps load fast, so that the user has the best experience possible and doesn’t “drop off” the booking process prematurely.  

Here’s yet another real traveler’s decision-making journey.  So meet Amy. Amy is planning a trip to Disney World, for one person during the Holiday season.  In her quest to plan this trip, Amy had 419 digital moments in just two months. She made 34 searches, watched 5 videos, and made 380 web page visits. And 87% of these moments happened on mobile.


#4:  Can’t-Wait-To-Explore: Experiencing Moments

Our final example of a real-live leisure traveler’s decision-making journey.  Meet Brooke. Brooke is a 35-year-old mom who recently traveled from Tennessee to her alma mater in Baton Rouge with her family for a marathon.

Take a look at Brooke’s travel micro-moments over the course of two weeks leading up to and during her three-day trip.

So you’ve really got to “be there” for mobile travelers while they’re on their trip.  It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 travelers expect their travel provider to share relevant information WHILE they’re on their trip.  In fact, most leisure travelers (85%) don’t decide on what activities they’re going to participate in on their trip until they’ve actually arrived!

So encourage customers to download your app, and make sure that you have lots of relevant content for them to use to make decisions on what they want to do next.  A lot of this information should also be regularly shared on on your social media sites, as a lot of travelers will look there as well. This is a place where experiential-type content – literally walking the traveler through the experience or the destination – will be consumed.   

Bell Media is a leading digital marketing agency that is focused on delivering desired business outcomes for clients. We are a Google Premier Partner, and a 3X Inc 5000 Company, with offices in Montgomery, Birmingham, Nashville, and Houston. We consult with businesses to determine where they want to go with their businesses, and then recommend the best product mix to help them achieve their goals. Check out more of our thought leadership in the Blog section of our website.