Thoughts & Strategies for the Travel Industry’s Use of Mobile Devices
In today’s world, mobile devices are taking on new relevance to the travel industry. Certainly, the majority of people that travel for work or leisure have access to them. In fact, in 2010, worldwide mobile device penetration is on track to reach 4 billion, representing approximately 57% of the entire population. More than just allowing travelers to book a trip or rent a car, mobile devices can offer a unique, often untapped, opportunity for those on the go. They can bring real-time information to travelers at the touch of their fingertips — what are the best sites to see, where are the best events occurring, what restaurant do local residents recommend for the best burger in town? Conversely, they can broadcast real time information and opinions from travelers, creating a brand dialogue.
Experienced consumers are lusting after detailed information on where to get the best of the best, the cheapest of the cheapest, the first of the first, the healthiest of the healthiest, the coolest of the coolest, or on how to become the smartest of the smartest. Instant information gratification is upon us. — Trend Watching
Smart phones and other mobile devices offer hotels, motels, restaurants, destinations, landmarks and offices of tourism a limitless distribution channel to a captive audience of mobile users. These organizations can provide travelers with attractive location-based goods and services in the precise city or area of travel: tickets to cultural events, savings and packages at stores and restaurants, dinner reservations, and information on attractions. In addition, mobile devices encourage the brand communication to be interactive and relevant, with travelers rating/reviewing products and services in real time, thereby providing other travelers with current, customized information during their own travels.
While mobile devices are clearly important to the travel industry, big questions remain. What are the most successful and effective ways to use mobile devices to reach the target audience of travelers (and more importantly, your influencers)? Should travelers be encouraged to register with offices of tourism so that they can receive up-to-the-minute information on the state/country in which they are traveling? How should the information be sent to the traveler — as a text, as an email, as an upcode? Should brands focus on encouraging dialogue with customers, or should they focus on driving revenue? The answers to these questions will depend upon your customer’s behaviors and socialgraphics and can ultimately be heard in the ongoing brand dialogue that mobile devices encourage.
While a variety of unknowns exist in this space, one thing is for certain. Travelers are becoming more comfortable with using mobile devices at a variety of points in travel — from planning the trip, to delivering a boarding pass to a gate agent to reserving a tour guide for a private viewing of the Grand Canyon. And, as mobile devices become more relevant to and integrated with travel, it becomes imperative that websites be optimized for mobile viewing, navigating, and networking. As the travel industry continues to explore, experiment with and utilize wireless devices in the implementation of brand strategy and communication, it becomes increasingly clear that wireless is a vital part of the marketing mix for this industry.