Mobile Travelers: 4 Ways Mobile Search is Used in Vacation Planning

March 26th, 2018 by Paula Keller French

We’ve come a long way from lugging around heavy guidebooks and drawing out routes on paper maps. In fact, we’ve even come a long way from planning vacations on desktop computers. Google shares that a growing number of travelers are planning vacations on their mobile devices, with mobile’s share of travel visits growing 48 percent in 2016, and mobile web conversions for travel sites growing 88 percent that same year. As a result, it’s increasingly important for businesses in the tourism and travel industries to optimize their websites for mobile and make researching and booking trips easy for mobile customers. Here’s how!

Take me away - Search Influence


According to the same source from Google, the key to a successful mobile travel site is leveraging micro-moments. These are moments of intent when someone acts on a need—for example, looking for a hotel once they’ve booked a flight to that city. Google names the core four micro-moments of planning a trip as I-want-to-get-away, Time-to-make-a-plan, Let’s-book-it, and Can’t-wait-to-explore. Different businesses in the travel industry will prioritize different micro-moments—for example, an influencer on Instagram might focus on I-want-to-get-away while a local tourism bureau might concentrate on Can’t-wait-to-explore. But, catering to customers across all four micro-moments certainly can’t hurt!

1. I-want-to-get-away

Also called Dreaming Moments, these are the times when people start thinking about their next vacations—and Dreaming Moments happen often. Again, according to Google, 37 percent of U.S. travelers think about planning vacations once a month, and 17 percent think about it once a week or more. In 2015, 38 percent of non-branded travel searches came from mobile devices. Today, that number is only increasing. So, how can travel and tourism businesses cater to this growing audience?

One option is using SEO services to help your website rank higher in search engine results for questions like, “What to do in [destination]?” and, “Where is [destination]?” These are two of the top travel questions people ask Google. Another great resource is YouTube. Google estimates that roughly 106 million of YouTube’s monthly unique visitors are travelers, and 64 percent of people who watched travel-related videos did so during Dreaming Moments. This means that learning to attract customers on YouTube is a must for businesses catering to I-want-to-get-away micro-moments.

Animation of a plane flying - Search Influence

2. Time-to-make-a-plan

Also called Organizing Moments, these are the times when travelers have decided to take a trip but are still considering different hotels and airlines with an open mind. During these moments, travelers are figuring out the logistical details of their journey—like how long flights will take or how much hotels will cost. And, they’re figuring out these logistical details on mobile. On Google, mobile flight-related searches are up 33 percent year over year, and mobile hotel searches are up 49 percent.

To reach customers during Time-to-make-a-plan Moments, consider online advertising campaigns, or Google services such as Hotel Ads and Google Flights. And, of course, make sure that your website is fully optimized for mobile!

3. Let’s-book-it

Booking Moments are incredibly important—not only because they’re the times when travelers start spending money, but also because these moments may have the most room for newcomers to make an impact. Going back to data from Google, 46 percent of travelers who do mobile travel research made their final booking decisions on mobile but did the actual booking itself on a desktop or laptop computer. This means that customers are likely not getting everything they need from mobile during Booking Moments. Businesses that improve their mobile booking have an opportunity to rise above the competition.

Google recommends Book on Google as a way to increase conversion rates for mobile Booking Moments. But, other ways to improve customers’ mobile booking experience include streamlining the check-out process to remove any unnecessary steps and making sure your site is secure. Customers will be more likely to book on-the-go if they trust that their information is safe and secure.

4. Can’t-wait-to-explore

Also called Experiencing Moments, data from Google proves that these are also areas of huge potential. Travelers are increasingly planning their vacation activities while they’re on the trip, with 85 percent of 2016 leisure travelers deciding on activities after arriving at their destinations. Here again, travelers are making these plans on mobile. In fact, mobile searches from hotels increased 30 percent in 2016. Companies who aren’t catering to this growing audience are missing out on potential business.

So, how can a travel industry business appeal to customers in Experiencing Moments? Provide travelers with information! The same source from Google found that 53 percent of leisure travelers are interested in visiting new places, compared to just 18 percent who want to return to previous destinations. This means that the majority of vacationers are somewhere they’ve never been before. Offer recommendations for restaurants or attractions, and make these recommendations location-aware—Google searches for “places to eat near me” more than doubled in 2016.

Two planes making a heart shape in the sky - Search Influence

Travel is increasingly becoming a mobile-centric industry, and businesses have a lot to gain by targeting customers in these core travel micro-moments. Whether it’s improving YouTube reach to grab viewers during I-want-to-get-away Moments, or making sure a site is hosted on a secure server for Let’s-book-it Moments, Search Influence is here to help. Bon Voyage!


Take Me Away

Want to Get Away

Bon Voyage