African consumers are turning to their mobiles for making purchases now more than ever—and it’s easy to understand why. Growing smartphone screen sizes, improved security, and apps for just about everything make it incredibly convenient to pay for anything from utilities to a plane ticket using the device that’s always within arm’s reach.
If you operate a travel business in Africa and you don’t already offer a mobile payment option, you’re missing out on an opportunity to seriously increase your number of bookings. Here are four reasons why.
1. Last-minute booking is easier on mobile
When a traveler suddenly realizes he has forgotten to take care of something important—like book a hotel for the impromptu business trip they are leaving for tomorrow morning—chances are they will reach for his smartphone to get it done quickly.
In the U.S., the highest amount of mobile bookings are done last-minute, according to O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing. 72% of mobile hotel bookings on an online travel agency’s site or app were made within one day of the stay.
Data from Criteo, an ad tech company, show the same trend. Their recent analysis finds that a whopping 58% of same-day travel-related bookings are done on smartphones and tablets.
Without a mobile payment option, you force on-the-go travelers to stray from your service in order to complete their last-minute bookings elsewhere. Imagine what these additional bookings could do for your business!
2. Mobile payments facilitate a complete booking experience
Considering that, in many places in Africa, smartphones are the only devices that are accessible to consumers, it’s no wonder more people are performing their travel research on their mobile devices. Nowadays, travelers “are rapidly embracing their mobile phones and tablet devices as a point of purchase,” according to TravelMarket. By offering a mobile payment option, you are ensuring a complete mobile experience—from research through to final booking.
Consider, too, these findings reported by Skift: Mobile bookings have gone up every single quarter for the past year and a half for all travel sectors. And it’s no wonder, considering all it takes is a tap or two to book. Offering a mobile payment option can significantly increase the number of bookings your travel business could receive – all of the travelers’ necessities to finalize their bookings, immediately, are conveniently packaged together on their mobile devices, facilitating greater ease and frequency of bookings.
3. With mobile payments, you meet all your customers’ needs
African travel service providers know that closing deals on supplemental services (like car rentals) is most effective via mobile. On-the-go travelers book these ancillary services to easily finalize every aspect of their trip as quickly as possible.
Check out this interesting chart from Skift that displays how car rentals are just behind hotel and apartment rental bookings on mobile—and they’re all displaying the most annual growth:
Most African travelers (and consumers, in general) with mobile money accounts already have their personal and payment details stored, digitally. Offering mobile payment options where details like these are already entered and verified helps you increase the number of bookings you receive thanks to the virtual effortlessness required to make an additional reservation. Incorporating mobile payment options into your travel business’ booking system enables you to help users seamlessly finalize all of the supplemental services they will need for their trip (and help you increase your number of bookings, at the same time!)
4. Mobile UX personalization coupled with a mobile payments system increases bookings
You provide your potential customers with the travel information they’re looking for on a well-designed, easy-to-use mobile site or app. But, effectively increasing the number of bookings via your mobile presence requires much more than just a beautiful and user-friendly design. Personalizing the user experience is a key method of getting more customers.
By understanding your customers’ needs and motivations based on analytics segmentation, their physical location (thanks to mobile GPS systems), and their past browsing activity or search inquiries, you can personalize their user experience on your mobile site by offering discounts or coupons on certain services that are catered to them. Combine this UX personalization with integrated mobile payment solutions, and you’re guaranteed to get more bookings.
After all, people have become more comfortable making travel-related purchases using their mobile devices. According to eMarketer, “in 2015, travel sales booked via PCs will be $115.91 billion—a decline of 1.8% from 2014.” And that decline is expected to continue for the next three years at least.
Look around—people aren’t only glued to their mobile devices for reading the news or checking Facebook anymore. They’re making use of the ease and convenience with which they can research vacations and finalize travel plans on their smartphones. If you want to attract a continuously increasing flow of customers, a mobile payments system should be an integral part of your travel business.
Eran Feinstein is the founder of 3G Direct Pay Group , a global e-commerce and online payments solutions provider for the travel and related industries. With over 14 years of experience leading technology, sales, marketing and operation teams, Eran is an authority in the East African e-commerce and payments arena. He’s also an avid marathon runner.