The mobile revolution is catching fire with nearly every industry. However, it’s likely the most fitting for the travel sector. After all, travelers are quite literally, on-the-go, and mobile only seeks to make their experience easier and more natural.
Many of the big travel players are stepping up their mobile game. Most major U.S airlines have nearly perfected their mobile check-in and boarding pass experience. Uber is revolutionizing the way people find a ride in-the-moment. And many OTA’s have optimized the mobile experience for fast easy booking.
But as consumers continue to demand more from their experiences—whether offline, online or mobile—it’s time for travel companies to become even more innovative with their mobile experiences.
1. Ordering room service—or any service, via mobile.
You’re traveling alone. You’ve been at a conference all day. You have no energy to take in a restaurant. The solution? Room service, of course. However, a common snafu is that room service typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to be delivered. For an on-the-go, tired and hungry traveler—that can feel like an eternity.
Just as apps such as Seamless Web and Delivery.com have improved mobile ordering anytime, anywhere, so can you. New mobile campaigns are arising that are helping hotels improve the room service experience through a simple call or text. Additionally, allowing guests to set up delivery times in advance, assures that they can come back to their room with a hot meal waiting—just like they have at home after a long day at work. The result? A better brand experience in the eyes of the guest, an increase in room service orders, and of course, a lot more brand loyalty
2. Deep App Linking
Yes, mobile apps give your brand omniscient access to customers’ desires, location, data, and, above all, their precious time. And speaking of precious time, the last thing travelers want to do is sift through an app to find their confirmation number, upgrade a seat or check their statement. Now that you’ve worked so hard to get apps in the hands of consumers, it’s time to make sure they use it over and over.
New technology is helping streamline mobile app usage. Calling and SMS campaigns when integrated properly into marketing can be used to push customers to specific areas of the app—especially those areas that streamline bookings or upgrades. For many ecommerce and travel businesses, this will be a huge help in delivering transactions instead of just app usage.
3. Self-serve check-in/check-out for everything.
As mentioned above, many airlines have progressed the mobile check-in game pretty far. No more running to a printer or kiosk to retrieve a boarding pass! Mobile boarding continues to progress for airlines as well, under the close partnership with Homeland Security to introduce self-boarding.
Other travel brands such as hotels and car rentals should take a cue from airlines when it comes to mobile check-in and check-out. Reducing customer wait times in line is a sure-fire way to boost loyalty and satisfaction. After all, what traveler wants to spend the beginning of the trip waiting behind 10 other tired passengers to get the keys to his or her room or car? Hertz for example, has ramped up its check-in process for Gold Club members. Upon arrival at the airport, members receive a text or email alert informing them of their car type and lot number. With the keys already in the ignition, it’s fast and easy for renters to just walk to the vehicle and proceed to the exit. Enhanced services such as this mean not only more loyalty program participation, but more overall brand loyalty against other rental companies.
4. Local Promotions
What if you could magically beam exclusive content, offers or discounts directly to potential customers right as they’re passing through your neighborhood? Good news, marketers: you can. As traveler change their location, their plans or even their preferences, it’s important you are ready to capitalize on their needs.
A primary way of doing this is by using local advertising to activate local promotional efforts. Advertising and alerts can greatly help drive traffic to your nearby physical locations—even if the traveler didn’t have you in mind. Special offers can be delivered to consumers’ mobile devices immediately by pairing advertising or promotional efforts with those local offers. Example: piggy-backing off of a regional auto show, New York Ford dealerships ran a promotional campaign to drive potential buyers to their nearest Ford dealers. By running advertisements at the auto show, on billboards across the state, and using local radio and TV channels to promote a mobile-friendly microsite that helps people search for and locate their nearest Ford dealer, they drove foot traffic into the stores and saw a marked bump in sales due to the location-activated campaign.
So here we are, at the cusp of the mobile revolution. There’s no better time to become more relevant, more user-friendly and more loved as a travel brand. Cater to your consumers and their loyalty will be reaped time and time again.