We managed to grab some time recently with Ali Yilmaz, travel head for South East Asia at Google.
Here follows a Q&A with Yilmaz about various issues including consumer buying patterns and changes, social media and innovation around the travel industry.
What are the most significant shift in travel consumers’ demands and online behaviour? How should travel companies react?
Travel consumers’ demands and online behaviours started to change long before the downturn. The internet was itself a very significant turning point in the travel industry; it was a traveller’s ‘dream’ come true on the computer screen. What we have seen in the recent years is a faster shift towards online and a variety of technologies emerging within.
Travellers’s online behaviours are changing every other day; 20% of all searches in the first 90 days of 2010 were never seen on Google before. Billions of searches were done and still, people find new ways of searching. On the other hand, consumers are adapting mobile technologies rapidly. In 2010, one in four internet minutes were on mobile. In two years, mobile internet users are expected to surpass desktop internet users and in four years time mobile searches are expected to surpass desktop searches.
Travel companies should closely monitor these changes in technology and consumer behaviour, and act quickly. There used to be a time when we were reluctant with new technology and therefore some preferred the “lets wait and see” strategy. Unfortunately we don’t have the time to “wait and see” anymore, it is time to adapt “as quick as possible”.