Is Cruise Set to Ride the Mobile Wave?

Photo credit: flavijus, flickr.


With Apple 4s sales off to a strong start in the wake of the Steve Jobs era, use of mobile will only grow.  The travel industry, like every other, needs to understand how mobile use can best drive interest and purchases.  Within travel the cruise segment has arguably had the least success in leveraging the internet; maybe it can leapfrog other segments into mobile.

To inform that potential and in honor of National Cruise Vacation Week, Compete compared mobile and traditional computer behavior on select cruise sites in June 2011—generally part of cruise’s “mini wave” season.  Compete focused on average sessions and page views, using its patented ability to identify unique consumers and normalize to create market-representative results.  “Unique” means no false negatives from attributing one person’s activity to more than one person (which would lower averages).   Mobile data are from Compete partner Mobile Intelligence Solutions and exclude traffic from apps.

More Sessions: Mobile

All three included brands (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian) show higher average sessions among mobile users than among users of traditional computers.  Carnival led on both measures. (3.1 sessions per user to the Carnival site using mobile devices, and 2.2 per user via traditional).  Royal had the biggest difference—with mobile users having nearly 50% more sessions per user than traditional.

RCCL’s higher average mobile sessions also helped close the gap to Carnival:  Carnival had 20% more sessions per user for traditional computer use, but only 13% for mobile.  But the results do not show whether more sessions for mobile equates with a better consumer mobile experience.

More Page Views: Traditional

In contrast to average sessions, page views per person were much lower for mobile for all three brands.  Similar to average sessions, Carnival led on all measures, but here the gap between Royal and Carnival was bigger for mobile.  Average page views to the Carnival site from mobile devices was 9% higher than Royal’s vs. only 3% higher for traditional users.

One might expect fewer pages per user on mobile devices because mobile versions of sites tend to offer streamlined versions (so fewer total pages available).  But the results do not show whether fewer page views for mobile is making for a better mobile consumer experience (i.e., are cruise mobile sites including the right pages?)

The Captain’s Table

For the cruise industry, activity on mobile and traditional devices shows clear differences.  Mobile leads in average sessions while traditional leads on page views.  But how much of the differences are driven by user choices vs. content or technology shortfalls?  For cruise to successfully ride the mobile wave, it will need to know the following, which can be gathered through a combination of clickstream analyses and behaviorally-targeted surveys:

  • Where in the cruise digital purchase funnel is mobile used?  For example, is it used more to check deals just before booking or used after booking, such as to plan activities while on board?
  • To what extent are mobile’s higher average sessions the result of more fragmented research in general vs. technological limitations—such as dropped signals?
  • What cruise information are consumers looking for on mobile devices?  Cruise researchers rely heavily on visuals in cruise research, for example, yet visuals can tax available bandwidth.
  • To what extent do consumers research cruises solely on mobile devices?  If cruise consumers often use mobile and traditional, cruise companies can be more selective in choosing and managing their mobile pages.
  • Are cruise researchers more or less likely to install brand-specific applications, and how satisfied are they with those?

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About Lincoln Merrihew:
Lincoln Merrihew is the Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.