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We all know mobile has arrived. 24 percent of all visit searches in the first quarter of 2013 were done from a mobile device. And according to the American Traveler Survey, 85.3 percent of people use a mobile device for travel information during a trip. Most people nowadays will tell you if you do not have a mobile presence you are virtually invisible in the industry. So why don’t we all go mobile? The real question is the ‘how’ and what makes sense for your business.
For the tour and activity segment that is still struggling with digital marketing in general (remember only a quarter of the segment has a proper website), mobile can be intimidating and perhaps viewed as something for ‘down the road’ or ‘not my business.’ In a world where 65% of same-day hotel bookings are now made from a mobile device, it may be time to consider mobile a priority for your business as well.
Concerning the ‘how’ we can list three main options:
1) A mobile-optimized website is essential for the average tour and activity provider – a clean, mobile-friendly interface that allows users to make contact quicker and to book your tours with ease. The cost can be minimal and one can take greater advantage of in-destination bookings. Not to mention a better user experience for your customer. If you do not have a mobile site today, I would suggest you get one. And for real bookings out of a virtual world: You might want to implement a live booking engine in your mobile site, so customers can book immediately through their device.
2) A locally installed mobile app for a smart phone is a different beast and comes with a bigger price tag, depending on the complexity. It can combine the native elements of the phone (e.g. camera, photos, contacts etc.) with the application itself, which cannot be done through a browser. Since less data needs to be transferred, it is usually faster solution. It also allows one to display tickets or trip information on the mobile device or implement a loyalty program. However, if you are a small company with one location and only one-time customers, a full-blown app has slim to little use.
3) A Container app is a mobile app that can display a mobile version of your web booking process with some additional functionality. It gives the tour operator the possibility to be present in the app store. This small version of a full app is a great option to profit from the advantages of an app and to access certain functionalities of the mobile device. For companies with repeat business a container app has the benefits of displaying ones loyalty programs and digital tickets on the device. Other perks include the ability to send push notifications and allow customers to publish their pictures. If a company wants to move one step ahead in mobile, a container app for a couple of hundred dollars is a great possibility even for small and mid-size companies.
Go the extra mile for your bookings
Either with a mobile optimized website or with a container app: The buck doesn’t need to stop here. Taking advantage of mobile technology in other channels can be key. QR codes for example – those square matrix barcodes you see mostly on flyers and print advertising – can be used to get content to potential customers and drive them to your location or site. eMarketer’s latest statistics show that 1 in 5 people in the US scanned a barcode last year. Or invest in hardware like iPads that can be powerful POS drivers to get more live inventory into the hands of customers and local businesses, so they can book for you.
The fact is mobile is not going away. And for the tour and activity provider that embraces it, utilizes it and adapts quickly, they will benefit NOW, in real-time and downstream.
Your trekk towards mobile bookings
If you’re interested in learning how mobile could work for your company join our conversation about it. We’re hosting an online, Google Hangout event on Thursday, April 18 at 1:30pm EST where a panel of experts will discuss mobile technology’s prevalence in the industry. This event will allow you to ask your questions directly. Register here and don’t miss out on a chance to learn about how your company can adopt a mobile presence.
Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.