Location-Based Services: The Travel Industry's Secret Weapon
By Mark Simpson President & Founder, Maxymiser | January 08, 2012
Smart phones are well on their way to ubiquity and, as a result, mobile commerce is on the rise. If you want to know who's leading the way, look no further than those who travel. A recent TripAdvisor survey found that over 40% of travelers use their smart phones to plan a trip and over 46% use their smart phones to enhance their trip while traveling. While I could go into lengthy analysis on "why?" the question travel-industry marketing executives should be asking themselves is "how?" How can I ensure that my company is not only keeping up with the shift toward mobile, but actually leading the way?
Mobile-optimized-or even mobile-specific-digital assets are certainly must-haves, but for the travel industry especially, it doesn't end there. Even more important are mobile sites and applications that take advantage of the explosion of location-based technology. With easy-to-integrate GPS functionality and built-in cameras on most mobile devices, travel marketers can make use of mobile-specific functionality to offer an experience that engages with the way consumers travel and interact with content.
In order to make the most of the mobile experience, it's important to build on existing consumer data: Who's your audience? How and when do they interact online? What's the right approach for your brand? With so many user-specific possibilities that lend themselves to personalization and targeting in mobile technology, a one-size-fits-all approach to a strategy just won't work here.
Certainly, the use of location-based tie-ins and personalization isn't unique to the travel industry. Mobile-specific applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla offer a model for connecting users and marketers via position, photography, and targeted geo-location marketing. But with so many travelers relying on their smart phones when they're on the road, taking advantage of mobile is rapidly becoming a must for travel sites and retailers. Consider the new Hotel Tonight app, which is based entirely on location, allowing users to find real-time, short-notice hotel deals in their current location.
As mobile-rich sites and apps increasingly serve travelers better, faster, and in new, creative ways, consumers are more frequently willing give brands and their sites access to their information-as well as to share their locations, check-ins, pictures and activities. It also means that consumers are coming to expect an enhanced, personalized mobile experience, and the brands that keep pace with this changing landscape will dominate.
Mobile in the Marketing Big Picture