At Eye for Travel’s Travel Distribution Summit in London during May 2013, I picked up a buzz of excitement about the way technology is transforming the travel industry.
Richard Lewis, CEO of Best Western, is urging travel companies to understand how Google’s concept of the Zero Moment of Truth affects their entire marketing operation.
Basically, the internet and social media have revolutionized customer product experimentation. Consumers are now able to experience a product online and seek advice from both friends and strangers without seeing or touching it in real life. The Zero Moment of Truth is how we, in the internet age, decide what to buy.
So how should travel brands adapt to this new digitally enhanced information path and decision-making process? Richard Lewis suggests that the ZMOT is not just a change in the way travel products and services are advertized and consumed. It’s also an opportunity for brands to engage directly with current and future customers by creating interesting, relevant content.
At EVG, we’ve been helping clients win this Zero Moment of Truth for years. Only now is it becoming clear to industry leaders that content marketing is the key to click-throughs and conversions.
2. Last-minute travel through mobile devices gaining traction
Thanks to smartphones, consumers are now empowered to make more spontaneous trips – often booking hotels and attractions while making their way to the destination. In fact, surveys suggest up to that 70 percent of guests who book via their mobile phones check into the hotel that same day.
Traditional hoteliers might bemoan the insecurity of this last-minute booking trend, preferring the comfort of hotel rooms reserved and paid for months in advance.
Smart travel marketers instead see the huge opportunities with mobile devices: deals and booking services for spontaneous travelers, airline check-ins, mobile payments, last-minute hotel reservations to fill unsold rooms… Expedia gets around 20 percent of bookings through mobile, and 15 million so far have downloaded the company’s app. That number is set to grow.
The mobile world is as exciting today as the internet itself was back in the ’90s. So don’t fight the trend – tap into it through mobile-optimized content and services.
3. The travel booking path, a great example of multi-device shopping trends
If you want to stand out in the travel industry, then your content has to be platform-agile. Modern travelers live in a multi-device world, carrying smartphones, tablets, laptops and GPS systems of all shapes and sizes.
Surveys show that more than half of smartphone users use another device at the same time as their phones, and that more than three quarters watch TV with a tablet or mobile in their hands. And more importantly for marketers, 67 percent of online shopping – including travel-related purchases – is a multi-device activity.
The lesson for the travel industry? Give your users a great experience whether they’re connecting via a mobile site, an app, a tablet, a laptop, or just seeing your profile on a GPS as they speed toward their destination.
4. Listen, analyze and personalize
A twist on all the talk about Big Data is personalization – how to use analytics data to learn about your consumers and then create the right content for them.
Lastminute.com hired a data science team recently, but according to the company’s head of innovation, WillIam Beckler, the team was useless until they learned how to listen.
Analyzing data helps marketers listen to the needs and wants of consumers. Only then can you personalize content for an all-round better experience. Some travel companies, such as IHG, have a strategy of displaying different content on different media, while others focus on creating fresh content targeted at particular markets.
5. Talk to consumers in their own language
The younger generation are becoming more vocal on the internet, using it to upload their own content and hold conversations. (In contrast, the older generation are more likely to use the internet to view and download content.)
And surprise surprise, not everyone’s speaking English.
If you want to engage and convert young internet users, you have to speak to them in their own language about things that interest them. So stop translating – and certainly stop auto-translating! – and instead invest in high-quality localization and content creation adapted to local cultures.
Engaging content is essential to your online visibility, conversion rates and customer experiences. And that’s not just in English.
The bottom line for travel marketers
How do you give modern, spontaneous travel customers a great online experience which will convert them from browsers to buyers at the Zero Moment of Truth?
The answer, at least according to travel industry experts at Eye for Travel, is through high-quality, original and relevant content displayed in various languages on multiple devices.