Remember the good ol’ days when carving out a good portion of your Sunday to sit in front of your desktop computer was the only way to research, plan and book your vacation? All the while, you hoped for a simpler, more efficient way to take care of all of your travel needs. Then came smartphones and tablets with all of their advanced features and functionalities. As a result, we are no longer tethered to our homes or offices at a specific time of the day while planning our next holiday trip across Europe or spending time with the family over the winter holidays.
With smartphones and tablets becoming a must-have device for consumers worldwide, travel brands are now moving into a new era of connected travel that takes far less time and is much easier to research, plan and book travel. This also gives consumers the added benefit of taking care of all of their travel needs once conducted over long periods of time on their desktop computers – with greater ease, speed and convenience from their smarpthones and tablets.
PhocusWright’s consumer research analyst, Marcello Gasdia, aptly stated, “A smartphone outfitted with the latest travel apps is an indispensable tool for the road traveler. The ability to search, shop and book hotels on the fly can quickly lift travelers out of a bind caused by inclement weather, traffic or car trouble. Mobile devices also help the more spontaneous travelers hit the road with unprecedented freedom and flexibility to do more in-the-moment planning. Last-minute hotel bookings represent a significant opportunity for the road traveler segment, and mobile is the new battleground for capturing them.”
As consumers look to research flights, compare hotels and reserve car rentals last-minute and on-the-go, travel brands must adapt and shift their marketing accordingly. To stay competitive, travel brands will need to go back to the drawing board to understand the motivations behind how and why travelers use their mobile devices to browse, research, book and share their travel plans. Then comes the fun part of devising a holistic mobile optimization strategy from a 360-degree of the customer. Here are a few mobile optimization truths every travel brand needs to know before they can deploy an effective digital strategy.
We live in a digital driven world, where everything is rushed, urgent and must be done easily and quickly. Smartphones and tablets are no longer viewed as a ‘luxury’ tool for consumers as they once were. Nearly every week, we hear about new smartphone and tablet models with innovative technology, high-tech features and advanced functionalities built into them. In fact, Apple has already sold 9 million units of its latest iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C models over opening weekend. Clearly, mobile devices are only going to become more embedded into consumers’ everyday lives.
For that reason, travel brands need to look at their mobile presence as an important extension of their brand’s identity. It’s often the first point of interaction consumers will have with your brand. As most people in business will attest, you will only get one chance to make your first impression count. Don’t let your mobile experience turn off first-time visitors. Leverage your mobile experience to convert loyalists into brand advocates. The more time, resources and strategy you invest into your mobile strategy, the greater ROI returns you’ll see.
When you’re on a desktop or laptop computer, the types of activities you can perform are very different from mobile devices. Mobile devices have smaller screen sizes and the functionalities are quite unique to smartphones and tablets. For these reasons, it can sometimes be a challenge for brands to get their messaging, imagery and content in front of mobile consumers if their site is not optimized specifically to accommodate the different modes they are in when using mobile devices.
The overall experience of browsing, research, booking and even sharing the travel experience tends to lean more towards travel management than actual purchases. Understanding this is of utmost importance to travel brands. It will enable them to optimize the customer service arm of their mobile site to provide real-time feedback to their customers. We’ve all visited a travel website, and at some point in the process, we have needed to get in touch with an actual customer service representative to answer our specific needs. Instead of putting a generic link to your 1-800 customer service number on your website, wouldn’t it be more intuitive to have an automatic button or prompt within your mobile site/app directly so users can have their questions answers faster?
While most travel brands look to promote their primary product offering, they tend to overlook just how important the mobile channel can be in driving incremental revenue by promoting ancillary/secondary products. The mobile channel offers the greatest marketing opportunity for these additional travel products. Understand that and leverage it by optimizing your mobile experience to incorporate these secondary/ancillary products.