Back in the day, a traveller was a pioneer, an explorer, braving the uncharted unknowns, recording experiences in a travel journal to be shared months or even years later upon returning home. A grainy black and white photo gave credence to tales of adventure and wonder.
The jungle heaved with life today. The birdsong was stupendous.
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. So what? Why should you care who’s got the latest gadget and what it can do? Bad phone etiquette aside, seriously? 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 mobile device has graduated from being a luxury item of convenience (and occasional annoyance to polite company) to being an invaluable tool for managing our lives. 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 because you want to position yourself in the market as offering unique benefits to your clients, speedy service and flexibility in how you engage travellers.
The definition of mobile in travel is the ability to access and take travel content anywhere, any time, in various formats.
It spells convenience, ease and comfort, instant gratification and speedy delivery of information.
In a nutshell, it empowers a traveller to make immediate decisions about travel and to express an opinion in the instant that it is relevant, to counter a process that traditionally took many trips to the travel consultant.
Consider the travel journey in its respective stages and how you can engage your clients on their mobile devices.
- Dream Stage Your traveller starts with an idea from a travel bucket list and goes about collecting information. Research shows she’s most likely using her smartphone to get travel inspiration before she’s planned anything. She does quick searches online, visits social networking sites and travel websites. She’s definitely reading online reviews posted by other travellers.
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 (Tnooz). Plenty of proof it’d be rather silly not having a Social Media (SM) presence.
Hopefully your website is optimised for mobile. Or you have mobile apps that can be used to access your travel content. Hopefully you have your content attractively and compellingly presented in a sleek, interactive format that looks fabulous on any device. With some well-researched SEO to boost your chances of being found quickly during searches. Hopefully you’re visible on SM with a carefully considered SM 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.
Once you’ve hit that sweet spot, after you’ve put in the requisite time, energy and love into cultivating your relationships via your chosen SM platforms, there follows a gratifying shift from engagement to conversion.
- Planning and Booking Stages Now your traveller has her mind made up and she goes about researching deals and packages. She also compares different brands, pretty much judging a book by its cover based on what information is available online. She’s after vital travel information for peace of mind, which is both accurate and up-to-date. Because she’s doing ten different things at once, she tries to access her chosen Operator’s online reservations portal. She wants instant confirmation of her bookings, speedy service with a personal touch and an overall superior consumer experience. Why not? When she can purchase almost everything else she needs online..
77% Smartphone users say receiving points or rewards, exclusive content and special messages would have a positive impact on their brand loyalty.
Hopefully your fabulous digital itineraries have a ‘Book Now‘ button or direct contact option that can be clicked on immediately after being viewed optimally on any device. Hopefully your content is comprehensive and current. And hopefully you’ve incorporated a couple of innovative apps as value adds that make you stand out from the competition and potentially earn you a bit extra.
Click on ‘Book Now’ below.
- Preparation and Travel Stages Getting herself organised, your traveller needs her travel documents, relevant travel information, maps and so on, all in order. And she doesn’t expect to cart around a pile of papers in this day and age. She starts thinking about the sightseeing she’ll do on her trip, activities she’s interested in, restaurants she wants to visit. Once she hits the road, she wants to have emergency contact details of your chosen suppliers within digital reach in case something goes wrong. And trust me, she can’t wait to share her experiences along the way on WhatsApp and SM.
In the experience stage, 68% use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family while on vacation.
Hopefully you’re able to provide all travel documents in an easily portable format. Hopefully you care about such things as low carbon footprints. Hopefully you’ve invested in useful apps that put the desired travel information at your traveller’s fingertips, literally just to swipe for access on her mobile device. Hopefully you’re able to do some crisis management if things go wrong because she’s alerted you immediately via a messaging platform. Or heaven forbid: she’s posted on SM that she got lost on her self-drive trip because her map is outdated or the signage en route was in a foreign language. Hopefully you know your client engagement needs to continue right throughout travel (and beyond) because that’s the kind of consumer experience she wants.
With an estimated 33% of travellers using their mobile devices on holiday to find things to do and 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 She’s on her way home from a holiday that you’ve tailor-designed to match her needs. Did your planning hit the mark? She’s on her phone, looking through her pictures, recalling her favourite moments. Select, click, write caption, send and off go her pictures onto Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, to name just a few SM platforms travellers frequent. She may be moved to write a review and mention whom she booked her trip with. Or… She has a complaint! Because stuff happens. People generally feel better after a good moan.
Hopefully you’re in a position to respond immediately to SM commentary either by modifying a product, providing additional information where needed, or mitigating the effect of negative feedback.
As quickly as your traveller posts her displeasure on her mobile device for the world to see, as readily you need to be plugged into what’s being published by your clients.
They are your brand ambassadors.
And hopefully you can capitalise on a favourable review from a satisfied client by sharing her review on your SM platforms, and thank her for the endorsement. People love being acknowledged.
The future of travel is about enabling and empowering consumers. There is a greater desire for transparency and accessibility. More customisation, personalisation and more flexible experiences are key. Meeting your clients halfway on the bridge that is their mobile device, goes a long way to addressing the demands of the modern consumer experience. It’s the way to nurture and nourish your relationship with your client and build brand loyalty.
It’s you telling the traveller, whether existing or potential client:
I value your time. I value your spending power. I value your views. I value your experience.
You can’t argue with the statistics. Like the old explorer in the black and white photo wouldn’t be caught dead without his rifle in the jungle, the modern traveller won’t be seen anywhere without her mobile device.