With one in four travelers booking their trips via smartphone, and with smartphone- and tablet-based searches for hotel rooms and airline tickets growing in the triple digits, the opportunities for mobile to reshape the travel industry are far-ranging. For this reason, it’s crucial that travel companies understand what their customers are demanding and how to adjust their mobile marketing strategies so they can foster two-way communication and enhance brand loyalty.
There are a number of things that travel companies should consider in addressing mobile marketing and engagement strategies. Syniverse identifies three major factors reshaping the travel industry that companies must understand before getting started.
Size matters? Big and little data both critical
According to the most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index report, globally, Internet traffic as a whole is forecast to grow three-fold from 2013 to 2018. In almost the same time period, from 2014 to 2019, mobile data traffic is forecast to grow by an amazing 10-fold. The availability of this data or “mobile context” is critical, as it provides insight into subscriber information, behavior and location to operators that can then offer it anonymously to brands for the purpose of improving customer engagement and experience. This insight can aid travel companies through its application of what is now termed “little data,” or the use of big data to serve micro-customer segments and individual users.
For example, an airport can use this anonymous subscriber data from mobile operators to better understand a user’s shopping and dining patterns before catching a flight. As a result, companies can send promotions for specific restaurants or retail stores based on the likelihood that a user would engage with their brands. Similarly, hotels can use this type of data to determine a particular resort’s busy season and increase the amount and type of offers provided in advance, increasing their chances of an individual making a travel purchase.
Ensuring privacy wins brand trust
A user’s privacy remains of utmost importance. Travelers not only need to be assured that information is communicated securely, but also need to understand exactly how their information is being used. For this reason, subscriber opt-in is absolutely necessary for any targeted mobile marketing and engagement strategies. Travel companies must communicate to customers that information is protected and delivered via secure channels at all times.
Moreover, a travel company must validate its reasons for obtaining this subscriber information by showing customers that having this type of data on their usage is actually advantageous to them. Companies must tailor communication based on individual preference and be sure to only deliver relevant and timely messages. In return, companies will build trust with customers and increase brand loyalty.
Multi-channel mobile engagement
Part of tailoring messages based on individual preferences involves multi-channel mobile engagement. Travel companies must learn which channels individuals prefer and which make the most sense for the situation. For example, an urgent message such as a last-minute flight change would likely be best received as a text message, as most travelers could be notified immediately through their mobile device. Whereas a special deal on a flight for the future is less immediate and could be delivered by email.
It’s vital that companies give customers the ability to set their preferences and expectations on the communication they’d like to receive. Notifications can be sent by text, phone call, email, push notification and social media, and each customer has a different preference for which is most effective. Adhering to these guidelines set by the customer will result in greater trust and respect for the brand.
Three factors for the future
There are almost endless options for travel companies to engage customers. The key is figuring out what works best for your individual company, as well as for individual customers, by paying attention to the three factors above. With appropriate application of user data, adherence to privacy standards, and appreciation for a customer’s preferred channel of mobile engagement, travel companies will be headed in the right direction and can better unlock the potential of mobile.