As winter turns to spring, millions of Americans begin thinking about escaping their jobs and spending a week or two sitting on a beach, camping, touring wine country, taking a cruise, or perhaps simply driving. But while their destinations vary, these would-be travelers all have one thing in common: more and more of them are relying on their mobile devices to tell them where to go, how to get there and what to do once they arrive.
For marketers in the travel and hospitality sector, mobile technology now offers a direct conduit to vacationers whether they’re in the planning stages or traveling. According to Hotels.com, smartphones are now used for travel research and purchases more than anything else – even entertainment. A full 61% of leisure travelers and 71% of business travelers research and/or book their trips on a mobile device. And once they take to the road, a whopping 98% of vacationers bring along their smartphone as a travel companion.
Data also shows that social media is playing a bigger role in travel decisions. According to research cited by MDGadvertising on Pinterest, more than half of vacationers report using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to get inspiration for trips, while three-quarters continue to use log on, update their statuses and check-in while on the road.
However, according to the Digital Tourism Think Tank, which develops mobile strategies for the tourism industry: “Many companies ‘go mobile’ too quickly by releasing a mobile app or a mobile website, before considering how mobile fits within their overall strategy, goals or objectives. This ultimately leads to failure irrespective of the invested (and often significant) resources, time and money.”
Getting it right means using appropriate technology as well as determining the correct strategy to fit your target demographic. The Digital Tourism Think Tank identifies five steps to developing a successful mobile marketing campaign.
Start by setting your goals. What kind of engagement are you looking for and what level of complexity are you planning to bring to the campaign? Whether you are looking simply to communicate with potential customers, generate leads or push geo-located offers all determine what kind of upfront technology investment is required.
Understand your demographic. Is your campaign targeting families going to Disney World or couples honeymooning in Cancun?
Develop your content. Start by identifying the type of content and functionality you’re looking for, and follow up by consulting creative and mobile specialists.
Implement and deliver your marketing campaign. To put your content to work you need to first determine the right package. Depending upon the nature of your messaging you may decide to develop a mobile website or a dedicated hybrid app. The most sophisticated campaigns use location-based technology to target potential customers in real time.
Use analytics to track and assess your campaign. Mobile analytics will provide feedback on whether your strategy is working. Use the intelligence you gather to periodically revisit your goals and for planning.
As more people rely on the technology in their pockets for travel — two-thirds of all same-day hotel bookings are made from a smartphone — having a dedicated and responsive mobile strategy, preferably one that can leverage geo-locating data, is an absolute must for travel and hospitality firms.