The Importance of Mobile in Tourism Marketing

Importance of Mobile in Tourism Marketing_header

Earlier this year, I wrote about 4 tourism marketing trends to look out for in 2016. And in that post, I briefly touched on mobile and how important it is for destination marketers to embrace and expand on this platform. Here is what I had to say:

In the past year, conversion rates have increased to 88 percent on mobile travel sites. What used to take us hours, can now be completed in minutes with a mobile device. Not only is mobile search up, but more consumers are using their mobile device to watch and share travel-related content on video channels like YouTube and Vimeo. And with mobile, it’s personal. Think about how often you interact with your mobile device on a daily basis. The amount of information at our fingertips is astounding. As marketers, we need to realize that while the traditional approach of mass communication still works, we need to shift and embrace the mobile-savvy traveler. Our travel brands have to be accessible via a mobile device. Now, it’s up to you and your organization to debate “Mobile App vs. Mobile Site”, and to be honest, you may need both. While mobile search is up, mobile conversion is still relatively low, which is the perfect opportunity to test out new ideas and disrupt the traditional mass communication plans of destination marketing organizations.

We often refer to the mobile traveler as a “silent traveler.” One whom conducts their searches and bookings quietly on a mobile device or tablet. They don’t feel the need to call travel agents or destination specialists, because they are confident in the ability of their mobile device or tablet to give them all the information they need. They’ll book reservations for attractions and restaurants all through various mobile apps across their devices. If they choose to have a conversation with anyone about their trip, they will only consult their close circle of family and friends. The only time you get to see them is when they are actually in your destination, and their post pops up in your social media newsfeed.

We’ve been having this conversation about how important mobile is to travel for several years now, and while we still have a ways to go before mobile booking becomes a mainstream adoption, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at some statistics on mobile as it relates to travel:

  • Mobile now represents more than 25 percent of online business travel bookings in the U.S.
  • OTAs generated $34B in sales worldwide in 2014, and mobile accounted for 17 percent of total online sales.
  • U.S. annual online travel spending will have surged 37% between 2012 and 2016, to $166.2 billion.
  • 42 percent of travelers around the world have used their smartphones to plan or book at least part of a trip.
  • Mobile search and social media account for some 40 percent of the problem-solving tools of travelers aged 25-34.
  • Mobile flight-related queries on Google.com are up 33% year over year, while mobile hotel queries are up 49%.

As a destination marketer, you have to be careful when listening to these types of statistics. If you don’t know your own destination data first, these statistics are not helpful. If you make decisions about your destination’s mobile strategy without looking at your current mobile traffic, then you are doing yourself and the destination a disservice. Mobile is still an untapped platform for most destinations, and because of that, this is the year for you to experiment and put your toes in the water. If you’ve never done a mobile campaign, here are a few steps you need to think about before moving forward:

  1. Set objectives. No campaign is successful until you first decide what you want. Do you want to increase mobile traffic, email opt-ins or social media followers? Whatever it is, this should guide you throughout the entire campaign planning process.
  2. Identify your audience. Mobile is personal, so you need to narrow down who it is you are going to target. You should know the geographic, demographic and psychographic information of your intended audience.
  3. Determine campaign dates. I am a believer that mobile campaigns should last four to six weeks. You don’t have to be long to be strong. Get in, hit them with the right message at the right time, and get out.
  4. Make it easy. You lose 25-60% of visitors with each click in the path to purchase on mobile. So, it is imperative that you have a mobile-friendly landing page for your campaign. If you are asking your audience to input information, make that landing page as easy as possible. Do not ask for more than five pieces of information from the user. If you can, use drop-down menus to complete information.
  5. Grab a ruler and a magnifying glass. All campaigns need to be measured and analyzed, and with the amount of granular information available to us as marketers, digital campaigns are a goldmine. No matter if it’s a success or a failure, allow your results to move you in the right direction.
[Sources: “Travel Trends: 4 Mobile Moments Changing the Consumer Journey”, Think with Google; “The State of Mobile Booking 2016”, Skift; “15 Stats from Online Marketing Strategies in Travel 2015”, Frederic Gonzalo]
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