The smartphone that practically every modern traveler owns is completely disrupting the marketing plans of travel operators everywhere. Smartphones, and the different view they enable of the world, mean that airlines through hotels and restaurants need to completely re-think their marketing strategy.
To jump into the very near future, think about Pokemon Go which – unless you’ve been living on the moon for the last few weeks – you’ll have read about more than once in your daily news digest.
Basically, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game where players hunt for digital items that have been overlaid onto the real world. So the player can walk down a street … look at the street view on their smartphone camera … and hunt for a little Pokemon character that virtually exists over there, behind the tree!
Augmented reality will have travel companies thinking about yet another way to promote their vacation. What if a resort town advertised that it had a hundred virtual tokens hidden around the town … and when you collected them all you’d get a prize. Suddenly kids around the world would be bugging their parent to visit that town and, horror or horrors, even insist on visiting the local museum as a virtual token was rumored to be hidden in the Oriental art section.
Travel marketeers around the world will be inspired by the news that Pokemon Go had around 7.5m downloads in the US in its first week, and was already earning the game developer about $1.6 million a day.
Thanks to developments like Samsung Gear, travelers can simply slot their smartphone into a headset and have 3D tours of resorts, hotels, airports, whatever.
Companies like Thomas Cook have harnessed virtual reality presentations as a way of getting travelers back into their stores … and increased sales to VR-promoted destinations by a reported 190%. But it won’t be long before destinations are providing their own virtual previews to entice travelers.
Airlines can leverage virtual reality for a wide variety of pre-flight and in-flight experiences. Like ‘how to find our check-in’ and ‘explore our new aircraft’ to ‘this is the hotel where you’ll be staying’. As devices like Samsung Gear become more widely used, it’ll be worth airlines posting virtual experiences on their website for VR smartphone users to download.
So as an airline or other travel marketeer you might have a vision for including augmented reality and virtual reality in your promotional armory … but the campaign isn’t won yet.
According to trip Advisor, 92% of travelers will reach for their smartphone or tablet again to see what kind of reviews a travel experience is getting. If airlines, hotels and other vendors don’t get good reviews – and don’t demonstrate that they respond to customer feedback – then they simply aren’t going to get the booking.
That social referral dimension extends to the traveler’s personal social network. In a recent research study, 80% of travelers said they are more likely to be influenced by a Facebook ‘like’ than a Facebook advert when choosing their next destination.
In another study by online company Tnooz, 95% of travelers said they spend 30 minutes reading an average of seven reviews before they book a holiday. So social referrals do count.
It has been said that inbound marketing and social marketing is a triumph of brains over budget. In the old days a marketeer could simply throw advertising dollars at the problem, but today’s airline marketers need a more nuanced, multi-faceted and data-driven approach.
In yet another survey, 83% of millennials interviewed said that they would allow a travel company to track their data in order to deliver more customized holiday. 85% of travelers across all age groups said they would look for some degree of customization in their holiday.
Big data and personal data can combine to give travelers the degree of customization they want. The big data insight that XX% of holiday makers preferred beach A to beach B will help drive the resort decision, and a list of restaurants tailored to the consumer’s individual taste will seal the deal.
Companies who find smart ways to manage data and deliver personalized holidays and business trips will be tomorrow’s winners.
All these external data sources – augmented reality, virtual reality, reviews, social marketing and customization – will eventually narrow the consumer’s choice down to one app. Hopefully the app that you or one of your resellers has created.
And at that final hurdle you need to be presenting accurate, timely, insightful data about your airline’s offer.
What are the deals? What flight times, upgrades, meal choices, check-in benefits, customizations and goodies do you offer.
All of which means that you need to unlock data that might be held in silos around your business … so app developers can grab the data that’s needed.
ConztanzONE is a data hub that helps airlines to achieve that commoditization of data. Even data held on legacy hardware, or on multiple silos created by years of mergers & acquisitions, can be gathered into a cohesive whole with the flexible ConztanzONE data hub.
To find out more about linking your current data with tomorrow’s smartphone inspired travelers, please leave your email address below.
Our acknowledgements to Smart Insights and Inc.com for their thought provoking articles.