I suppose there are isolated parts of the world where you can exist independently of technology. With a sharp machete, you can hack through the dense foliage, find that uninhabited spot of natural beauty, pitch your tent and sing camp fire songs to your heart’s content. Guess what? That spot has a GPS location, which is how you found it in the first place. There’s a cell phone tower within texting proximity and the locals in the nearby village know their LOL’s from their OMG’s. You can’t escape technology. But like any tool, it’s only as good as its usefulness and its user.

8 1If you’re in the business of supplying travel products, your prime objectives are probably to increase sales, create and build your brand, and generate loyalty among your clients and industry partners. If marketing and distribution are at the heart of these endeavours, then travel tech is the pacemaker. Let’s consider how travel tech turns your challenges into opportunities.

Expose yourself. It’s great getting your reps out to visit Agents and Operators to punt your travel products. That’s feet on the ground, cars on the road, good wholesome face-to-face contact. Now complement that with a comprehensive digital presence. If you have your product content available and visible to the Trade and travelling public 24/7 at the click of mouse, it means putting your product in the best position to be seen, used and sold/bought. That’s a no-brainer. It means your brand is out there, continuously represented and your content distributed. The correct digital tools can put you everywhere, any time.

Click on the giraffe’s tongue for in-your-face visibility.8 2

Supply that demand. You know you’re dealing with a tech savvier audience – they’re sensitive to green issues and frown upon your over-use of paper, even those lovely glossy coffee-table brochures. They value snappy response times and service delivery in general, and they spend a large amount of their research time online. So you really need to ensure you can be found easily, that you invest in real-time, dynamic marketing and that you offer a paperless option.

Decode UGC. User Generated (or Earned) Content is something that empowers you in 2 significant ways: by engaging with the public online (existing and potential clients alike), you’re cleverly using Social Media to accomplish brand awareness, reputation management and crisis management, all the while keeping track of traveller preferences. Also, studies and statistics continue to impress upon us how UGC has become the best source of marketing content as travellers place their trust ever more in other travellers’ experiences and reviews. The fact that you end up saving on the cost of creating content is just a huge bonus.

Evolving social trends are favouring a major travel-selfie revolution..

SKIFT

Travellers or guests used to sign their names in a Visitor’s Book. Now that book is out in cyberspace. Technology connects you to it.

Marketing Pains. Apparently people don’t like reading much any more 🙁 So the new strategy that is Content Marketing actually suits your audience perfectly – fewer words, more visuals. The power lies in the empathy you illustrate for the traveller/guest with your chosen images. There will doubtless soon be more exciting tech advances to benefit from, like virtual consumer experiences, but for now, video is marketing gold. The rate of digital video consumption increases yearly, especially on social media, more especially on Facebook and YouTube.

Not only are these fabulous for tracking consumer data, but they offer precisely the right kind of visual depth to portray empathetic content, like this work of art from our friends at Digital Shelf.

What you get is visually appealing, digital, inspirational and eventually ubiquitous.

65% of leisure and 70% of affluent travelers begin researching online before they have decided where or how to travel…

Frederic Gonzalo

This creates a golden opportunity to influence potential clients at the early stages with online video. I’ll say it again: Moving images move audiences!

You do know that Operators and Agents would really rather not spend their time searching for and managing your content, right? It’s got to be you doing that! Eliminate the risk of not being used. Eliminate the risk of being misrepresented by external content curators and online review sites. After all, your in-depth knowledge of your product is a super-valuable commodity. Now answer this question:

What’s the best way to easily update your content?

8 3So you’ve published and printed a new brochure, spent all that money making it pretty and getting it distributed.

But now you have some new specials to promote and oh, you’re breaking into the Russian travel market and need your content translated into Russian too..

Another thing, imagine you’ve printed 10,000 copies of your brochure – how many of those actually get read?

3 Headaches 1 Solution.

Life is just easier when you have a digital version of that same brochure – one that can be altered quickly and easily. Voilà! You have your content updated and ready for your Russian clients to purchase your latest special offer. What’s more is, you have the analytics to tell you who clicked on what part of your digital brochure, where, when, and how long they spent looking at a page. Imagine what you could do with all that information.

In short, it means you are better informed to manage your content and how to present your offerings. All in a fraction of the time it took you to do things manually, like a century ago..

If you only take away one thing from my tech rantings, let it be this: Optimise for Mobile!!8 4

You’ve simply got to have a mobile strategy – it’s about reaching the consumers where they live, which is pretty much on their mobile devices.

Capitalise on the prevalence of mobile usage via apps for personalised guest services/experiences. For one thing, your content definitely needs to be easily accessed by any device.

Then come the value adds: those inspired little flashes of ingenuity conjured up by talented travel tech nerd magicians most of us don’t understand but do admire. We’re talking direct messaging platforms (between you and your clients), convenient concierge services full of your precious content, and software as a service, which is fast becoming increasingly prevalent in travel.

Hotels with mobile apps like check-in and e-menus are a big plus when making decisions on where to stay.

Killarney Hotels Infographic (Hotel Trends for 2016)

The more these hacks are employed, the more you can improve upon it. Technology has a wonderful habit of leaving useful footprints in its wake. You’re able to collect and collate data from your clients to further develop those personalised offers, whenever they’ve booked on your website or clicked on a digital service you provide. Or not, as the case may be. It’s the data-centric perspective, which simply put means: you using consumer data via technology to engineer the best practices to satisfy more clients, retain their loyalty and generate more future business. Now that’s smart.

8 5

Technology isn’t scary.

It’s not even that complicated. It’s certainly not ugly.

It’s a cute, creative animal that makes your work load lighter.

As travel consumers evolve, we’ve got to adapt.

Stay ahead, stay current or get left in the dust.

Isn’t it ironic? Tourism is a very personal thing. I take it personally. How I travel, where I go, what I do, whom I do it with and where I rest my travel-weary body… it’s all profoundly personal. Yet as we hurtle along the 21st century, the power to revolutionise my experience as a traveller lies squarely within the realm of the impersonal machine. Who knew?

Technology is an artist. And the traveller is its muse.

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