The competition in the travel industry is heating up. Today’s connected travelers expect companies to seamlessly engage with them across distribution channels as they search, book and communicate pre- and post-experience. Moreover, they expect the same experience from the travel company no matter which channel they use. With one in four travelers booking their trips via smartphone, and with smartphone- and tablet-based searches for hotel rooms and airline tickets growing in the double and triple digits, that means the battle to out-innovate the competition is focused on mobile.
Earlier this year, Vice President of Enterprise and Intelligence Solutions at Syniverse, Alastair Hanlon, shared three ways that mobile will enrich the travel experience. In this post, I would like to build on some of those points with some insights I just gained at the EyeforTravel Travel Distribution Summit in London. The event brought together approximately 500 online travel strategists and technologists, and their views offer some critical directions to consider for the role that mobile will play in travel brands’ strategies:
- Hotels and airlines are working on their direct-to-consumer strategies to wrestle back margin from the online travel agents. In order to do be effective, they are focusing on integrating their social media and mobile strategies to create rich, highly engaging digital experiences for travelers. A great example of this is being done by Generator – a hostel company that has turned its website into a social hub. It works by integrating the Generator messages and visuals of its properties with user-generated content from social media streams, including photos, events, and recommendations to create a rich, highly engaging experience that the users feel a part of and therefore are encouraged to book directly through.
- The cross-selling and up-selling of goods and services is an important additional revenue stream for travel and hospitality companies. And a connected consumer provides even more opportunity to promote these add-ons. Travel and hospitality companies need to make their offers and promotions timely, relevant and convenient, and mobile is key. Why? Because consumers tend to keep their mobiles within arm’s reach, at home or when travelling. And mobile intelligence can be used to tailor the promotion or message based on personalized points of reference including location. So a tailored message sent to a device that is being looked at up to 150 times a day increases relevance, and a more relevant message yields a higher rate of redemption – in this case, those elusive additional revenues.
- Travel and hospitality companies looking to increase loyalty are investing in campaign and interaction management tools that engage travelers across multiple distribution channels and provide hyperpersonalized content and messaging through each.This allows companies to view each customer as a “market of one” to tailor content and messages according to individual desires, motivations and travel behaviors across all channels of communication anytime, anywhere. And as I said before, the more relevant the message, the higher the return.
While a comprehensive mobile strategy is critical to staying ahead of the competition, mobile needs to be considered as part of a holistic, integrated, omni-channel customer engagement strategy to optimize results. Travel and hospitality companies that can break down digital divides and integrate their distribution channels to create a seamless customer experience that transcends desktop, tablet and mobile channels to deliver the right messages, to the right people, at the right time, are the ones that will come out on top.