By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso
Gone are the days of Mapsco and printed city attraction lists. Nowadays when any consumer leaves their house, the chances that they have their smartphone on them is practically a guarantee, especially when traveling to a new city. Our smartphones have become a necessity and act as a sacred lifeline between us and the happenings of the lively city, cool restaurants nearby or the best shops in town to peruse.
In fact, according to TripAdivsor’s TripBarometer Connected Traveler report, 42 percent of travelers worldwide use smartphones to plan or book their trips. This leaves a major opportunity for businesses in the travel and tourism industry to engage consumers on their smartphones and provide much sought-after information such as hotel reviews, restaurant locations, excursion details and prices, etc.
Tourism companies of all types, such as hotel chains, airlines and city attraction groups, should explore ways to engage and interact with consumers, rather than only marketing to them. Consider deploying the following mobile marketing tactics in your summer promotional campaigns.
Mobile apps can provide detailed information about the company, its tourism offerings and serve as a place for consumers to learn more and interact with the brand. A great example of a branded app that serves as a resource for travelers is the “I Love NY” app. As the official tourism app for the state of New York, it displays thousands of attractions, events, hotels, parks, restaurants and more that allow consumers to plan the perfect travel itinerary – all from the convenience of their mobile device. Additionally, it helps travelers navigate the city with its maps, stay informed with location-based alerts and share activities with friends and family via social media channels. This platform shows the power that a branded app can have on becoming an invaluable source of information for travelers. Brands can also become part of a multi-branded app program if they do not want to invest in an individually-branded one. These apps can provide the same benefits to company, but allow the consumer to have one app as opposed to multiple for each brand they interact with.
If a tourism organization does not have the resources or desire for a branded app, then it should at least ensure its information is available and consistently up-to-date on aggregator apps. These apps collect basic information and provide all of the data in one place. For example, Expedia and Priceline gather flight and booking information, and display it in one place for consumers. It is also important to remember consumers typically turn to aggregator apps to write reviews for city attractions or restaurants. Therefore, executives should regularly monitor the information posted about their organization and be aware of customer feedback.
In today’s digital age, it is also necessary for brands to engage travelers via social media channels, especially since most users access these platforms via mobile. Many times, consumers will turn to social media as a resource to gain information in lieu of websites or when they want to interact directly with a brand. This occurs regularly with airlines where travelers will reach out via social media to see why their plane is delayed or to complain about poor customer service. Consider regularly posting helpful information for those traveling and monitor the conversations that are taking place. Being transparent and utilizing social media as a customer service tool, like Southwest, will help brands build a positive reputation among the traveling community.
SMS Short Codes
Texting is the most popular and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans sending a text at least once a day. Not only is texting highly ubiquitous, but it can be a fun and highly effective marketing tactic. SMS text programs involve a keyword and a 5-6 digit phone number or “short code” to engage individuals and invite them to opt in to receive future messages. To do this, brands should offer some kind of incentive for customers to send the initial text message with the specific keyword to the designated “short code,” such as “HOTEL” to 55555. Once the text is delivered, the user will receive a message inviting them to opt-in to receive a link to the microsite, which contains the incentive. Consider using this method to offer travelers a discount on a city attraction or hotel night rate when they line up at the front desk. Consumers are more likely to interact with a brand if they can gain a reward quickly and do not have to do more than text to redeem the offer.
Regardless of what mobile marketing tactics you choose to deploy, remember the organization’s main website should be responsive and mobile-friendly in case customers search via their smartphone browsers first.
As the lifeline of consumers, tourism brands have a real opportunity to reach travelers and visitors via their mobile devices. Take some time this summer to explore what mobile marketing tactics will reach your target audience most effectively. By engaging via smartphones, brands can improve and greatly impact the decisions of consumers and become the go-to resource for tourism-related information.