Just before the turn of the millennium, some friends and I spent four nights at a B&B, booked through the local tourism bureau in our area.
With zero mobile phones among us, we had to wait until we returned home a week later to complain about our bad experience there. By then it was too late – our errant host got away with hospitality murder.
Life before mobile
Based on its listing with the tourism bureau, the B&B had a 3-star grading. We wanted a triple room, and the price was right. One phone call later, it was booked and that was the extent of our research. That would never happen today.
We couldn’t find any pictures, brochures or printed flyers of the B&B. Alarm bells should’ve gone off. Yet, we continued with our plans, undeterred. Never happen today either.
We lugged our luggage around for an hour after disembarking the train. Bad directions, you see, despite the B&B being located ten minutes from the station. Tired and hungry, we ran out for a bite first, then returned to our room, desperate for a shower. There was no hot water. It was a Friday night just after 9pm. At that stage we were told that the geyser got switched off daily from 7pm to 7am to conserve energy. Important to know prior to booking, wouldn’t you say? One quick cold douche later, we hit the sack, flipped for the cot (the supposed third ‘single bed’) and settled down. My friend in the cot complained all night about the dip in her mattress. A poor choice based on poor information.
Technology being what it is today, that establishment probably wouldn’t have seen me, because I would’ve done all my research online on my phone.
31% of consumers will research their next trip from a mobile device.
Mobile enters the travel fray
Now I own a mobile phone tablet capable of a zillion functions I don’t know how to use. But it’s attached to me like an appendage. Just like the rest of the world, I tweet, Facebook and Instagram on it, Whatsapp friends in faraway places as regularly as I speak to the people I live with.
1,700% growth in mobile travel between 2011 and 2015
That’s a significant proportion of travellers who are connected to the world outside their immediate environment and plugged into their mobile devices as they travel. They research travel on mobile; then they celebrate on social media when they’re impressed and castigate when they’re unimpressed.
What you need is a mobile strategy:
- to make your content accessible and mobile-responsive; and
- to represent and market your brand where your target markets live.
Strategising with mobile
Three things to consider: who is your target market, what are their expectations of the customer journey, and how do manage the content to service them?
Millennials are the dominant hotel consumers of 2017. They crave instant gratification and convenience. Several studies have found that apps like check-in and e-menu are big motivators when deciding where to stay.
With 75% of search and 51% of revenues expected to come from mobile devices in 2016 hotels targeting business travellers, millennials and connected travellers ought to have a proper mobile strategy in place.
What’s your share of that search time? If you’re putting all your eggs in the OTA basket, do it with the understanding that you’re sacrificing some control in the process. You could be managing and controlling your bookings, rates and inventory independently, with less revenue lost in commissions. But that’s up to you. If you hope to compete effectively with the online booking monster, you need a strong online presence.
Your audience wants good content and it want it now, available to them on their mobile devices.
The power of compelling images and words conveyed on a digital device cannot be exaggerated. It’s a convenient and portable format with recurring impact. If you can empower your audience to choose which parts of your content they engage with, and if you can provide live, immediate feedback to their queries and enquiries, and enable them to book directly with you, all done on mobile, then you’re off to a great, competitive start.
Good quality content in real time across a healthy mix of online marketing channels must be optimised for mobile, for convenience.
Having your product content in the cloud where it’s easy to manage and distribute online is a cost-effective option for hospitality brands. In Wetu, you have that safe, centralised space to store your product information and create marketing assets. You also have your content in a format that’s easy to share and incorporate across different platforms.
Harnessing the power of social
An estimated 50% of consumers worldwide make travel purchases based on online recommendations – social media drives that. You should leverage its power by providing travellers with multiple options to engage with and share your content.
Start by identifying the formats and platforms of engagement favoured by your target market. The most commonly used platforms among travellers in order of popularity include:
Seek out that #love: tag existing clients, influential personalities or industry peers; get them to spread your love and take your brand further. Engage with bloggers, quote and tag them, and get them quoting and talking about you.
Invite your satisfied clients to review your products on social media because nothing influences other travellers like a good word posted by peers.
If I could go back in time, I would search Content Central for a nice place to stay; then I would time travel and show my past self and my friends the iBrochure showcasing that property on my futuristic mobile phone. It would’ve saved my friend from a pain in the back, and elsewhere…