Back in the day, the traveller was a pioneer, an explorer, braving the uncharted unknowns.. He’d record his experiences in a journal to be shared months, even years later upon returning home, a rare grainy black and white photo giving credence to tales of adventure and wonder. Sure, that was a romantic time for travel but everything belongs in its own time. Now is the era of the mobile device and travellers, as consumers, are embracing it fully.
The big deal about mobile
So what? Why should you care who’s got the latest gadget and what it can do? Bad phone etiquette notwithstanding, have you seen us with our gadgets? In restaurants at the dinner table, in the subway or on the bus, waiting in line at the bank or at home in bed: we’re on our mobile devices all the time.
The jungle heaved with life today. The birdsong was #stupendous.
That birdy has ruffled feathers and spread its wings. The mobile device has graduated from being a luxury item of convenience (and occasional annoyance to polite company) to being an invaluable lifestyle management tool.
And that includes travel.
85% of international travellers have some kind of mobile device (iPad, tablet, smartphone) while on the road…
That’s your cue to prove you’re adaptable and ready to surf the mobile-friendly wave. You do that to position yourself in the market as a brand that offers clients unique benefits, convenience and service-oriented engagement. Ease, comfort, instant gratification and speedy information delivery are all wrapped up in this approach. In a nutshell, you want to empower travellers to make decisions about travel and take relevant action, in the process overhauling what traditionally cost a lot more time and hassle.
The definition of mobile in travel is the ability to access and take travel content anywhere, any time, in various formats.
Mobile in different stages of travel
Consider the stages of the travel journey and how you can engage clients on their mobile devices.
- Dream Stage Your traveller starts with an idea from a travel bucket list and goes about collecting info.
Research shows she’s likely using her smartphone to get travel inspiration before even planning anything. She searches online, visits social networking sites and travel websites; and reads online reviews posted by other travellers.
Hopefully your content website is optimised for mobile. It should be attractively, compellingly presented in a sleek, interactive format that displays well on any device. Incorporate well-researched SEO to boost your chances of being found.
Your brand visibility on Social Media (SM) must form part of a marketing strategy that capitalises on real-time engagement with the travelling public.
80% of agencies rated SM as somewhat or very successful at achieving important marketing objectives.
Among 10,000 travellers surveyed by YouGov, 75% were inspired by Facebook content and TV shows, 72% by Instagram, 65% by Snapchat, 63% by Twitter, 60% by Pinterest, and 62% by films. So it’s rather silly having zero presence.
After putting the requisite time, energy and love into cultivating relationships on your chosen platforms, when you hit that sweet spot, a gratifying shift from engagement to conversion follows.
- Planning and Booking Stages Now your traveller’s mind is made up and she goes about researching deals and packages. She compares different brands, pretty much judging a book by its cover given what info is available online: the more accurate and up-to-date, the greater her peace-of-mind.
77% Smartphone users say receiving points or rewards, exclusive content & special messages would have a positive impact on their brand loyalty.
Because she’s a busy girl, she wants a quick response to her enquiry, speedy service with a personal touch and an overall superior consumer experience. Why not? When she purchases nearly everything else online..
A Book Now button is the shortest distance between you and your client. Your client itineraries should offer a direct contact link to their consultant. Great service is being able to click on it immediately after viewing a mobile-responsive itinerary loaded with inspiring content. Superior service is having a direct messaging extension on a digital itinerary to settle related queries without moving off the page.
- Preparation and Travel Stages Now she needs her docs, maps and other relevant info all organised. She doesn’t expect to cart around wads of paper in this day and age. She starts thinking about all the sightseeing and activities she’ll do, restaurants to try out.. Once she hits the road, she’ll need contact details of your chosen suppliers. She’ll definitely share her trip experiences on WhatsApp and SM.
In the experience stage, 68% use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends & family while on vacation.
Are your travel docs portable? Travellers are increasingly concerned about maintaining a low carbon footprint. Hopefully you’ve investigated travel apps that make travel info an easy swipe away on her mobile device. Sometimes things go wrong during travel – a mobile messaging service is the easiest way to manage crises, because she can alert you as it happens.
Or heaven forbid: she posts on SM that she got lost on her self-drive trip because her map is outdated or the road signage was in unintelligible. Client engagement must continue throughout travel (and beyond) because that’s the kind of consumer experience she expects.
With an estimated 33% of travellers using their mobile devices on holiday to find things to do & source additional information, a travel app filled with useful features such as weather reports, destination guides, etc. would allow tour operators to create a platform from which to generate additional revenue streams.
Tourism Research Australia
- Post Travel Stage On her way home from a holiday that you tailored to her needs, she reflects: was your planning spot on? She’s on her phone again, browsing through holiday pics, recalling her favourite moments. Select, write caption, and post onto SM! She may be moved to write a review and make a recommendation. Or.. she has a complaint. Because stuff happens. People generally feel better after a good moan.
Hopefully you’re in a position to respond quickly to SM commentary: modify a product; provide additional info; mitigate the negative feedback.
As quickly as comments are published from a client’s mobile device for the world to see, just as readily you need to be plugged into that space to respond appropriately.
The manner and speed with which you engage and manage conversations will leave a lasting taste in the mouth.
Your clients are your brand ambassadors.
Nothing wrong with capitalising on favourable reviews by sharing them on your own SM platforms! And since people love being acknowledged, best thank her for the endorsement. It tells the traveller, existing or potential client: I value your time, your spending power, your views, and I value your experience.
The future of travel is about empowering consumers. Meet your clients halfway on the bridge that is their mobile device and address the demands of their travel experience. It’s how you nurture and nourish your client relationships and build brand loyalty. There’s no bucking consumer trends. Like earlier explorers wouldn’t be caught dead without a rifle in the jungle, modern travellers won’t be seen anywhere without their mobile devices.