Mobile is dominating the world, changing the way users interact not only with each other, but with their favorite brands, as well. Users are smarter than ever before. They are educated, well informed and know exactly what they want. They have higher expectations and demand a seamless user experience while browsing, searching and booking. If a brand delivers a poor user experience, they will move on to the one that can meet or exceed their expectations and needs. Finding a product, service or offer isn’t the only priority users have while on the hunt; nowadays, the whole user experience is more highly valued than the end product (as they say, similar products can be found elsewhere – keep that in mind).
In travel, there is constant growth and development of new technologies that are changing the travel landscape and how travelers engage and communicate. New technologies, platforms, and systems are designed to help users travel easier, smarter, and at the same time, ensure a personalized experience and build a meaningful relationship.
Expedia found that 84% of travelers worldwide want to be able to access information from anywhere while they travel. Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecast found that people around the world spent an average of 86 minutes per day going online with their mobile phones, compared to 36 minutes on a desktop, in 2016.
87% of people always have their smartphone by their side, night and day. On average, people check their phones more than 150 times per day.
During the traveling cycle, travelers are using their mobile devices whether they’re researching a trip, booking, searching for activities and events during the trip, or sharing their experiences with others after they return home.
- 63% sleep with their device besides their bed while on vacation.
- 60% agree they never truly unplug on leisure trips.
- 60% say they would be unwilling to go on vacation without a mobile device.
- 35% claim to use mobile devices more on vacation than they do at home.
- 28% carry a rechargeable pack or spare battery.
It is no secret that Millennials are shaping the future of the travel industry and have an enormous influence on how travel brands plan their businesses. They have become the largest segment of global travelers. They search for insightful information and strive to find hidden, unusual places, easy on the eyes and their camera lenses. They expect authentic, personalized and user-friendly experiences.
Millennials currently spend over $200 billion annually on travel and are forecast to account for close to 50% of all business travel spending by 2020. According to Google, Millennials are more likely to shop for a flight or a hotel using smartphones, and are more comfortable booking trips using smartphones than the general population.
However, there is another generation to watch out for: Gen C.
Five years ago, Brian Solis described Gen C as a “Connected Consumer” group. The name has changed a couple of times, from “social economy,” to “mobile app economy,” to “connected economy,” resulting in this: the generation change is in full bloom and it’s a “digital revolution”.
Generation C consist of all age groups: Millennials, Gens X and Y and Baby Boomers. Even though most are below the age of 35, the focus lies on their behavior, online existence, needs, and desires. Google said that Gen C consumers prosper on creation, curation, connection, and community. Being digitally cultured, savvy and well-informed customers with a lot of knowledge, they need to constantly nourish their appetite for new information and gratify their need to be and stay connected with the world. They move seamlessly from one device to another, often using multiple devices at once. Emojis, texts and online presence are as important to them as water is to the rest of humankind. And it is no surprise that an online smile (read: like/share/heart) from a stranger means more to them than a stranger´s smile in real life.
Here’s a fun fact: a good Facebook ad can do wonders, reach huge audiences and turn people to click-share-buy little robots, right? Well, think again: for those knowledgeable, savvy, ad-blocking geniuses, the usual marketing initiatives won’t cut it anymore. What will work is sharable, curated and personalized visual content – word-of-mouth recommendations on Facebook (who would have thought), viral videos and images shared on Instagram. They demand travel experiences to be personalized and expect authenticity and transparency.
With mobile usage in high demand, travel brands have understood the need to give travelers seamless, user-friendly and smart technology, and offer them a deeper, more advanced and custom-made experience with authentic content. Travel brands need to meet travelers where they are located and deliver information at the right time. They need to understand all the touchpoints across the traveler’s journey, including pre, during and post activity. Travel brands need to take into consideration travelers’ feedback, their location and their preferences, and learn from their social profiles and participation to provide them with the personalized travel experience they desire.
Will Pinnell, Vice President of Digital & Product Strategy at BCD Travel, said, “I see mobile as a set of booking tools, a set of service capabilities and increasingly, a set of messaging features where travelers can chat and interact with an agent.”
Personalization has become the essence of the engagement economy.
- 90% of travelers appreciate when a travel service company strives to customize their experience based on their preferences.
- 76% of travelers agree that they would travel more if they received more personalized service during travel.
- 64% of travelers agree that when visiting a new/unfamiliar travel destination, they rely on websites or mobile apps to find activities, events and restaurants that align with their personal interests and preferences.
The Rise of Emerging Technologies
While mobile is changing the way travel brands engage and establish relationships with users, there are new ways to deepen these relationships. We are talking about voice-based search, bots, in-flight entertainment, companion apps, wearables, augmented reality and virtual reality. A few of them have already begun to find their way into travelers’ lives, and others are in early stages of development. In the end, it is all about finding different ways to engage with travelers, add value and build a meaningful and long-lasting relationships to win their loyalty. To succeed in a world of new technologies, travel brands need to combine personalization and convenience to deliver information at the right time to the right device.