Mobile featured prominently at EyeforTravel’s Online Marketing & Social Media Strategies for Travel conference earlier this month in Amsterdam.
Here are my 7 key take-aways from the mobile sessions featured –
1) Get a mobile friendly website – it’s predicted that by 2015 there will be more searches via mobile than via PCs. In the last quarter a 59% of travel brands said they did not allocate any budget to mobile. That’s a pretty worrying statistic! It’s not that hard to make a website mobile friendly yet not enough travel brands are doing so. Let’s hope it’s an essential part of all travel company’s e-commerce plans for 2012!
2) Don’t jump on the mobile app bandwagon without careful thought - it’s essential to understand what you want to achieve from having a mobile app before developing one. Apps can be a money pit, needing constant updates and consumer engagement tactics to keep customers using it. They also need strong marketing strategies to make them work. Developing an app should therefore be seen as a long term commitment. Christelle Chan from Hotels.com said they see it as a way for them to retain valuable customers. Apps also serve a different purpose to a mobile website (read on for more details)
3) Consider where your customers are engaging via mobile – Hotels.com found that those browsing their mobile website tended be in more of a rush (they were often on a trip or, for example, stranded in the ash cloud) than those browsing through their apps (who were often on the train or at using the app at their leisure)
4) Invest in marketing your mobile products – all of the speakers at the event emphasized that it’s of paramount importance of marketing your mobile products effectively. Budget needs to set aside for effective mobile marketing. Adam Goldstein from Hipmunk highlighted the value of the free PR gained through launching their apps but not all companies can achieve this. According to David Gelabert from Melia Hotels, 80% of branded apps fail to achieve 1,000 downloads. Indeed, Hotels.com found nothing happened until they started marketing their app. App store ratings count and awareness and downloads must be encouraged on a country by country basis.
5) Mobile redefines the search space – The no.1 place for consumers to search online in Europe is through Google. In the mobile space this is different. App stores for example act like search engines. The number of downloads of your app matters. Marketing efforts must also be tailored to the target countries. App reviews should be encouraged.
6) Don’t underestimate the value of the tablet –Laptops and desktops are likely, in some cases, to be replaced in the home by tablets. Media consumption is therefore inevitably set to increase via the tablet. This provides an ideal opportunity for travel brands to reach customers at the inspirational stage. Tablet users have more disposable income and a higher propensity to travel (but of course they are not everyone’s target audience!).
7) Consider the multi-platform user experience – customers are increasingly likely to experience your brand across different platforms. Simple things like ensuring that customer accounts are synchronised across multiple platforms can help to improve the customer experience of your brand
Don’t forget that you can stay up-to-date with mobile – follow @eyefortravel on Twitter for updates from across the industry!
By Gina Baillie