The way we travel is changing. From researching a trip, to deciding on a destination, a date and exploring what to do when we have arrived – mobile has altered every aspect of the travel experience. And yet, many travel marketers are still struggling to keep pace with the mobile revolution, to their own detriment.
Mobile has come to define consumer behaviour in the industry: 60% of research on destinations and one in three bookings are made on smartphones. More pertinently, 90% of in-trip information is accessed via mobile devices.
Travellers now expect a bespoke, personalised experience, irrespective of whether they are travelling independently or have booked through a tour operator. The modern traveller is discerning and wants relevant, accessible, shareable content on the go. Mobile is integral to achieving this.
But some traditional publishers have struggled to adjust to the digital age and develop their content accordingly, opening a gap in the market, which has been filled by large crowd wisdom sites, such as TripAdvisor. But as the crowd wisdom market has exploded, trust has become an issue; these sites carry hundreds of millions of reviews but fewer than 1% of users write comments or reviews and up to 30% of reviews on some major online platforms are either fake or biased.
As some review sites evolve towards a business model which encourages users to make direct bookings, at some point this could lead to intervention by the regulatory authorities.
So, how should travel marketers respond to the challenge – and opportunities – presented by mobile?
The key is to provide mobile content which talks directly to customers in their own language. Travel guides are the perfect way of doing this, but too many publishers and travel companies produce ‘flat’ content – hosted on an external site or webpage – which is a missed opportunity. Travellers do not want to waste time being redirected to external sites, they expect an immediate and convenient solution. Worse still, taking the customer away from your site means you are missing an opportunity to deepen customer engagement.
It’s the best form of marketing: providing customers with useful information that has real value but also promotes your brand. It’s authentic content that works across multiple media channels – essential in the mobile age.
By James O’Day, COO of Pearlshare
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