By Josephine Wawira
An analysis of the Q3 Customer Behavior and Online Trends released by Jumia Travel, a Kenyan online travel booking company, reveals insights into customer shopping habits and forecasts predictions for online hotel bookings.
The report indicates that while desktop bookings still take lead in the flight and hotel booking frontier, mobile devices continue to grow their following, giving a positive edge to retailers who invest on good apps and mobile experience. Mobile bookings increased from 41 per cent in Q2 to 44 per cent while desktop bookings saw a slight decline from 59 per cent to 56 per cent in the same period.
Cyrus Onyiego, Country Manager for Kenya predicts that the trend can only grow, as more shoppers and travelers embrace both mobile and cross-device shopping experience. Terming smartphones as the primary contact for ecommerce, the country manager expresses the need for suppliers to create a seamless purchase process as consumers transit from eCommerce to mCommerce, as well as adopt effective mobile-centric marketing strategies.
Payment module still a sensitive issue
Payments and money transactions continue to be a big deal in any eCommerce related business, with consumers still faced by the dilemma of paying at sight vs on site.
Compared to the first half of 2017, Q3 payment preferences took a new turn, with a steep rise in post pay (pay at hotel) transactions at 69 per cent, up from 52 per cent. On the other hand, pre- pay customers dropped from the previously recorded 48 per cent to end the quarter at 31 per cent.
Online transactions are still deemed “risky” by a good fraction of bookers: 73 per cent of customers prefer to book with hotels that provide pay-at-hotel option, while the remaining 27 per cent are okay with either. Fraudulent use of payment networks and data are leading causes to this effect.
Cancellation policy as a blocker
With no standard policy available to guide hotel practices in relation to this, most providers are left to their own means, sometimes to the detriment of the customer. While hotels implement this policy to shield themselves from customers who might cancel with the intention of securing cheaper rates, the unpredictability of travel throws does nothing to guide the cancellation time bracket and cost impact. 7 per cent, of the guests check the cancellation policy every time they book while 14 per cent say that they take attention of the same most of the time.
28 per cent of the customers said they “sometimes” check the policy before booking, with 20 per cent reporting that they are “never” bothered.
Majority of customers have not experienced any hotel with a cancellation booking.
Online reviews a major factor
Brands that invest in customer experience are highly rewarded through loyalty and unsolicited referrals by customers, thriving on consistency and good will, rather than a marketing budget. This automatically drives retention and conversion rates.
Hotels with excellent reviews get more bookings than their not-so-well rated counterparts. This is well illustrated by the fact that 89 per cent of the guests read reviews every time or most of the times before they book.
While 10 per cent read reviews “sometimes”, only 1 per cent revealed that they do not check on reviews to place a booking.
Leisure travel doubles business
Leisure trips have always taken the bigger share in domestic tourism. The trend continues to grow, thanks to marketing and awareness campaigns carried locally by stakeholders. In the Q3 survey, leisure travel made up 87.5 per cent of total bookings made on Jumia Travel, while business trips accounted for 44.1 per cent. The remaining percentile mostly covers family related visits and societal obligations.
Tech savvy Gen Y and the Millennials take lead online
Not surprising, the age bracket 25-35 years make the largest group with 47 per cent in online hotel and flight bookings. Having grown in a time of technological revolution, this group loves the on-the-go convenience that comes with online shopping; especially through mobile gadgetry. Making a wave too in online purchase chain are the equally savvy, but probably yet to achieve financial independence; 18-24 year olds.
A quick peek at the gender front points to male dominance in the tech-driven online travel industry; men account for 68 per cent of the bookings, while women take up 31 per cent. The unaccounted 1 per cent constitutes of customers unwilling to reveal their gender.
Josephine Wawira is a Maravi Post regular contributor.; she is Global PR Assistant for Jumia Travel