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Common mistakes to avoid when building your mobile business

Mobile phones are taking over our lives. One study even found that the typical mobile user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.1 As a result, businesses are faced with a consumer engagement crisis. Getting your product or service in front of your audience, at the right time, in the right way is more challenging than ever.

So to develop a mobile strategy that will ensure your SMB can cut through the clutter, it’s important to first understand the most common mobile mistakes (and how to overcome them).

The most common pitfall SMBs make is underestimating the importance of mobile in today’s landscape. To put into context, mobile is expected to generate five per cent of GDP, or $4.6 trillion, by 2022.2

In the travel space, our Expedia Group data reveals that 1 in 3 booking transactions are made via mobile3 and over 50 per cent of traffic now arrives via mobile4. If you haven’t started tapping into this platform as a tool for your own customer acquisitions, make it front and centre - or risk being left behind.

That said, it’s important not to take the “build it and they will come” strategy. When it comes to mobile apps particularly, assuming your customers will automatically download it if it exists is a naïve approach. Today’s consumers are flooded with choice; 3.6 million apps available on Google Play and 2.1 million in the Apple Store.5 However, “the average number of apps used is holding steady at 27 apps per month,6 which means securing one of those 27 coveted spots is an uphill battle.

So, what attracts people to different apps? They need to be fast, useful, and have a multitude of features that give users a reason to continue engaging. Mobile users want apps that provide them with practical info - anywhere, anytime. Our Expedia mobile app, for example, comes with multiple in-trip features including hotel directions, flight alerts, checkout times and the ability to access your travel details offline. Plus it’s received 250+ million cumulative app downloads (as at end of 2017), compared to the typical hotel brand with less than 15+ million downloads. 7

The lesson for all SMBs then, is the importance of thinking about how consumers can benefit beyond primary functions. If you’re without the global budgets to invest in a dedicated app, focus instead on building a responsive mobile web and look to leverage third-party apps. Don’t fight what your customers are demanding, just find the most cost-effective way to deliver it.

It comes down to understanding usage behaviours. Another key mobile mistake. While many understand that mobile has limited real estate, navigating what does and doesn’t resonate means prioritising the correct content can be tricky. When it comes to booking a hotel, 30-35 images are typically viewed before a transaction occurs and photos generate more than half of the engagement. Given today’s mobile-dominant landscape, you should consider designing for the smaller screen size first. If you can get the information right on the small screen size then expand to desktop, you'll likely meet the needs of the vast majority of your consumer base.

You see, gone are the days when mobile was purely used for research. It is now a conversion tool - and that’s another key mistake many SMBs make - assuming a browse versus buy mentality. Across most parts of the world, mobile now accounts for more than half of online transactions, and in-app sales dominate.8

For SMB operators looking to increase revenue on mobile, there is big opportunity in mobile deals. We see from our data that in the travel space, 7 in 10 mobile hotel bookings come from deals. In Australia, 88% of travellers are looking for deals on mobile, 9while research released by PayPal shows the rise in impulse mobile buying (with 77% of mobile window shoppers actually impulse buying).

But most importantly, even if you nail all of the above, be mindful not to make the biggest mistake of all, which is adopting a ‘set and forget’ approach. Continually testing, learning and evolving is vital.

It might sound like more work, but instead, be savvy. In our industry, we’re seeing smart hoteliers really utilising the assets of their technology partners, like Expedia Group Partner Central mobile app that provides real-time insights and guest feedback on-the-go, to get big results for little input - something that other industries could look to replicate.

Let’s face it – SMBs are under the pump, and the constant innovations in technology that make things easy for consumers can sometimes actually put more of a squeeze on the company's resources. So, with ever-changing customer expectations the trick is to be creative, invest in the assets that bring the best value to your business and leverage the investment of others where you can.

2 Source: The Mobile Economy Global 2018, GSMA Intelligence

3 Based on Expedia Group transactions in 2017.

4 Mobile traffic stat based on Brand Expedia,, Orbitz, Wotif, CheapTickets, ebookers and HomeAway mobile traffic in Q4 2017


7 App Annie, estimate only. Accumulated downloads to-date: New downloads driven since January 2013

8 Criteo, Q1 2018.

9 Media Solutions Multi-National Travel Trends 2017, % of respondents who somewhat agree/strongly agree with the statement: I look for the best deals and most value for my dollar

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