Call-based ad network Marchex has released an interesting travel study that captures data about the differences between PC and mobile users. Overall the study found that mobile users convert in much higher numbers than PC users in travel. (Marchex makes money by selling call-based advertising.)
Marchex’s report found that call-based conversions were “consistently over 25 percent for rental cars and over 20 percent for hotels.” The company presumably relied on industry data regarding online conversions for comparison. The total number of calls analyzed by Marchex for this study was 15,000.
The company added, however, that “62 percent of the calls we analyzed for this study were not destined for a sale. These calls were either intended for customer service – such as confirming reservations – or they were misdials and disconnects.”
Marchex confirmed what has previously been widely reported: mobile callers are ready to buy; their needs are immediate. That’s largely why conversions are so much higher.
Mobile users are more likely to contact hotels in the evenings than PC users (this makes sense). However with cars it’s the opposite: “more than 80 percent of mobile bookings for same-day rentals. However, mobile consumers call more often in the morning than their desktop counterparts, perhaps because callers are looking to drive that day.”
Men apparently make more calls in the morning hours than women:
Males consistently make most of their calls during the morning hours, which is in keeping with another Marchex Institute study from 2012. Between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., males accounted for 67 percent of calls. The gender distribution of calls is more evenly split in the hours after 6 p.m.
Stepping back there are some common sense explanations for why mobile calls convert much better than PC lookups in travel. One point is that mobile users are likely in travel mode, “on the go” and looking for rooms and cars. PC users are typically at home or work. In addition, as Marchex points out in its report, callers often have questions that aren’t readily answered by websites:
Our data found that more than a third of callers had questions about room locations, views, and nearby events, such as how far of a walk it was to President Obama’s inauguration.
We also found that callers could be broken down into three fairly consistent types: The Special Requestor (those interested in certain amenities); The Deal-Seeker; and The Techno-Phobe (those averse to booking online).
Finally PC users are often just starting their research or doing travel research very casually (e.g., fantasizing about vacations) and higher up in the funnel. The big takeaway is that mobile and PC strategies shouldn’t be seen as antagonistic but rather as complementary for travel companies.
However this research, supported by earlier data, conclusively shows travel companies that aren’t pouring energy and resources into mobile are potentially losing high value consumers who convert at very high rates.