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How will recent mobile ticketing innovations affect transportation industries?

The flurry of mobile ticketing innovations seen by marketers in a slew of industries suggests transportation companies will also begin investing more heavily in these solutions, due to the sheer convenience and last-minute purchasing ability they offer.

New insights from Juniper Research reveal that almost 23 billion event and transport tickets will be purchased via mobile devices by 2020, paving the way for marketers in those industries to capitalize on last-minute sales and provide additional convenience to commuters. The travel industry in particular is seeing the biggest growth potential, as evidenced by airline brands’ continued adoption of mobile boarding passes as well as hotel marketers’ digital key advancements.

“In 2015, Juniper observed that the airline industry witnessed the highest year-over-year growth, representing a 50 percent increase in mobile app ticketing users,” said Nitin Bhas, head of research at Juniper Research.

“Indeed, according to the latest data from SITA, mobile is becoming the favored platform among passengers, with check-in using an app (currently used by around 8 percent of passengers) expected to grow 90 percent in 2016. SITA also reported that mobile is the fastest growing check-in channel and is expected to go from 11 percent of passengers in 2015 to 20 percent in 2016.”

Trending toward transit
Although mobile ticketing is becoming more pervasive across a plethora of industries, the biggest challenges and opportunities are most apparent for the transportation sector. As mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay continue reaching more consumers and merchants, the ease of acquiring a paperless ticket grows.

Additionally, more transportation hubs can implement specific apps for ticket validation and delivery to make processes easier for on-site employees.

Southern California’s commuter rail service Metrolink recently boarded the mobile ticketing train, as the transportation industry as a whole moves towards untethered digital systems (see story).

Mobile ticketing enables consumers to eliminate their concerns about misplacing a paper ticket, a notion that could drive more impulse purchases among individuals who wait until the last minute to book a seat on a train or flight.

Per Juniper’s latest research, mobile ticketing within the airline sector is most established in regards to user adoption and deployment, a trend that will only continue to expand.

However, sales volume growth will likely be spurred by lower-value bus and metro tickets.

To maximize their potential sales outreach, transit companies should focus on offering a host of valuable services to each customer, which means that the user experience will need to match or surpass existing ticketing schemes.

This will allow new services to enjoy more successful pilots and snag a better chance at widespread deployments.

“Ticketing providers should also invest in consumer data analytics if they are to understand behavioral trends in order to develop new and relevant commercial opportunities; and also to extend existing customer relationships,” Mr. Bhas said.

Travel and entertainment
Other lucrative opportunities for smartphone-enabled ticketing abound in the travel and entertainment industries.

Regal Entertainment Group is the latest movie theater chain to adopt digital ticketing by teaming up with mobile app Atom Tickets, which enables consumers to send invitations to friends via social media, pre-order concessions and purchase advance tickets (see story).

Ticketing service Fandango has also made strides by eliminating the need for ticket scanning with a new format that asks moviegoers to swipe an unduplicatable ticket image on their phone to gain entrance to a film (see story).

Meanwhile, many major hotel chains continue to perfect their mobile check-in services, most of which offer consumers the ability to use their smartphone as a digital key. This enables guests to bypass the front desk and never have to worry about losing a physical key card.

“Within travel, I think there are big opportunities for growth within hotel and car rental,” said Ryan Williams, vice president of travel at Millward Brown Digital. “In the hotel space, we’ll see growth if brands can find ways to efficiently increase adoption of their mobile apps.

“The branded travel app is a loyalty play that should result in stronger customer retention and increased booking activity through mobile devices,” he said. “The other travel sector ripe for growth is the car rental space.

“Car rental might be the simplest travel item to book and commonly the most closely associated with last minute, on-the-go activity, which is mobile’s sweet spot. The big brands in car rental are actively working on improving their mobile Web and app experiences, so I suspect we’ll see strong 2016 growth in this space.”

The most important feat to master – for any brand seeking to invest in mobile ticketing options – is to optimize the user experience as much as possible. While mobile platforms may be most enticing for on-the-go consumers, desktop still generally provides the most easy-to-use checkout processes.

Therefore, digitally savvy marketers must ensure their products, apps or services provide the perfect marriage of optimal usability and round-the-clock convenience.

“While mobile ticketing is on the rise, headwinds continue to keep conversion down on mobile devices,” Mr. Williams said. “These headwinds include poorly executed mobile Web sites, slow adoption of branded travel apps, the complexity and high price point of booking travel, and consumers’ general familiarity with researching and booking via desktop or laptop.”