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Mobile Marketing in the Travel Industry, 2016

Marketing Your Travel Business

the Mobile Marketing Way

The Screens May Be Small, But the Benefits Are HUGE!

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Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t ask us about Mobile. It seems like it’s the #1 priority for business owners and managers these days, though ironically, most of them are completely unaware of why it’s really so important!

So, for all the people who have been asking “how do I do mobile marketing for my business?” …especially for those of you who are marketing travel and tourism businesses like hotels, attractions, and rentals, we wanted to put together a quick guide to mobile marketing for travel businesses!

 

So, you’re thinking about taking the plunge and going Mobile with your travel business. Excellent news- kudos for getting into the game! With more and more travelers not only booking their travel plans- but also researching them on their mobile devices, businesses that aren’t making mobile a huge priority are starting to look like dinosaurs…assuming anyone can find them online to begin with!

Being mobile friendly isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be time consuming, complicated, and confusing if it’s not your “native language”. The key is to stick with what has been proven to work best, and not getting too bogged down in terms and toys you don’t really understand.  Here are a few things we suggest you keep in mind when you make the mobile plunge:

1. Responsive websites make mobile travel marketing easier, (and are really the bare minimum that you can do)- Remember just a few years back when everyone was told that they needed to not only build and maintain an amazing website if they wanted to be taken seriously, but suddenly they had to build a SECOND site specifically set up for mobile? I remember trying to figure out how I was going to go back to my boss at the time and convince him to make the time/money investment in a second site for- what was at that point- a relatively small set of visitors to our website when I knew that the process of getting the “real” website done almost killed us on in the first place!

Thankfully, in 2012 webmasters and programmers started to give us the tool to make sites “Responsive”. For those who aren’t overly familiar with what “Responsive” means in this context, we’ll keep the explanation simple: It’s a type of design that makes a website easy to read on any screen, be it mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Now, besides the fact that this suddenly spares us all from trying to build a second site (or use one of those awful mobile-converter softwares that will sorta’ kinda’ do it for you), building your site to be Responsive has several benefits:

  • The most obvious is that it gives a far better user experience to your guests/clients who are visiting your site from a small or odd sized screen.
  • It actually helps to improve your SEO. Seriously- it’s not just humans that hate trying to read a poorly formatted site on a tiny mobile screen- The search engines aren’t fans of it either! Google, Bing/Yahoo, and most other modern search engines give a nice little boost to the sites that are responsive over the ones that aren’t!
  • It makes you look more professional. Since being Responsive has almost become the “price of admission” to play with the big guys lately, sites that haven’t switched to Responsive design yet, often look either out of touch…or worse..like they don’t update because they are out of business!
  • Here’s the big one as it pertains to Travel/Hospitality Industry businesses in particular: Your clientele is even more likely to be researching you (and your competitors) on their phones than in nearly any other industry. Since these people are often making somewhat last minute decisions as to where to spend their money, they will often reach for the cellphones on the fly, and at that point it’s not just about giving them the informational content they need to make a decision- it’s also about speed of presenting that information, and ease of how it’s presented. If your site isn’t fully responsive, you WILL lose at this stage.

2. You have less time to engage someone on mobile – Roughly a third of the people who plan their travel online through their mobile device are going to book that day. Likewise, mobile phones are  more likely to be the booking device, while tablets (as well as laptops, desktops), are more likely to be used upstream to do the initial research, compare pricing, and read reviews. Because travelers tend to take the buying process across multiple devices depending on the stage of the sale, you have to strategize your company’s sales funnel to accommodate this segmentation!

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3. Don’t ignore reviews- If you are getting great reviews consistently on Yelp, TripAdvisor, or any of the other popular review sites, aggregate those on your site, and make sure they are easy to find- especially on the desktop/laptop/tablet version of your site. Don’t try to fix the game though. If there are a small handfull of less than stellar reviews, do your best to answer them directly on the review site, but own those too. Mobile audiences are savvy audiences- if they see ONLY perfect scores, they’ll assume someone has “fixed the game”.

4. Offer short term promotional deals/discounts through Facebook Ads and go heavier on mobile- Facebook ads are a relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to an audience that you can super-target. Using cookies on other sites, you can set your Facebook advertisement to only trigger for people who are already spending time on travel websites. You can even drill down further to only target people who “like” the city you are in, or who “like” to do the activities your business offers (or at least the activities that many of your guests choose to participate in when they stay with you). While you can serve these ads to desktop/laptop users and get a lot of traction as well, Facebook will allow you to serve specific ads on the mobile platform exclusively. This is the time to run those “last minute deals” to grab the person that has already done their research and is right about to make a purchase! The more you can target an already receptive audience when they are in the right frame of mind, the more successful your marketing will be…and the more cost effective too!

Obviously, this is just scratching the surface of why we all need to put a little more thought into how we differentiate our mobile travel marketing strategy from how we market to everyone else.  The fact is, mobile will continue to grow as a preferred platform, especially as Gen-Xer’s and Millennials take on more and more of the business and family travel roles being vacated by retiring Baby Boomers (and for more information on how that will effect your business, as well as specific steps on how to make this pattern work in your favor, be sure to to download our free ebook The RipCurrent Guide To Generational Travel Marketing). Taking a handful of strategic steps that you can be consistent with now is the best way to ensure you keep up with the mobile hurricane that has only just begun to blow onto shore.

Free Generational Travel Marketing Ebook from RIpCurrent Content Marketing Services