Tag Archives: travel

Live from #Insightech15: why surveys are necessary but not sufficient

Stacey Symonds of Orbitz presented a future looking case for surveys not being the end all of research. An interesting insight showcased different types of research and how they matched objectives, bringing to light the need to fulfill business problems, not plug methodologies.

Several examples came up for the types of Orbitz products and how they emerged from research, from digital to rewards to travel journey to email research.

Orbitz also unveiled 5 insights from this type of research, relevant to the travel industry as well as progressive research too:
1. Consumers want to and are able to reduce the gap between thinking and doing
2. Queues help consumers manage tasks, content, buying and time.
2. Consumers are seeking to maximize their attention
4. The journey is now a constant state of moving through modes
5. Consumer behavior demands more than omnichannel offers. Thinking on channels must evovle.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh.

Exclusive Interview: Stephen Gates, Senior Creative Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Stephen Gates, Senior Creative Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently spoke at The Mobile Marketing Conference on Best Practices for Creating Mobile Websites.

We caught up with him to chat about the future of mobile marketing, Starwood’s mobile strategy, and advice for those just starting out. One exciting development from Starwood? The new Starwood Preferred Guest app, which offers an intuitive experience that’s perfect for frenzied travelers. According to this review on MediaPost:

The new app, which is actually Starwood’s third-generation mobile app, includes things like FaceTime integration — a first for any company (that isn’t Apple.) The app also includes fully integrated booking, member information, comprehensive hotel searches and travel details, customer service and social media.

Gates spoke of the app experience saying “we don’t want to create dumb experiences for smart devices.” To learn more, watch our video below:

Want to stay up to date on Mobile Marketing news? Follow us on twitter or Facebook.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com 

Smartphones: A Perfect Way to Reach Stranded Travelers

IHG’s Holiday Inn Express iPhone App

Mobile is a booming channel for travel companies. For my company, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), annual gross mobile booking revenue has risen from $2.5 million in 2009 to over $130 million in 2011. Most importantly, it is letting travel companies reach a new segment of customers: same-day bookers, those that are buying transportation and travel lodging the same day that they are going to use it.

Same day bookings account for nearly 65% of the bookings that are made on the InterContinental Hotels Group mobile apps and mobile websites and other travel companies are reporting similar numbers through their mobile products. In contrast, same-day customers only account for a small percentage of bookings made on desktop websites. A large portion of these same-day customers are likely stranded travelers. Travel companies can now reach these stranded travelers through their smartphones using mobile apps and mobile websites in order to turn the anxiety of being stranded in an unfamiliar location into a positive experience, resulting in revenue and great impression of the travel company.

IHG has developed some best practices for how we approach crafting apps and mobile websites that willl meet the needs of stranded travelers:

  •           Focus on 2 to 3 Core Tasks

    Smartphones dont have the large amounts of screenspace that a desktop computer has, travel companies must decide on the 2 to 3 most important tasks for the stranded traveler and focus on delivering those.

  • Empathize With the Stranded Traveler
    The best way to decide what those 2 to 3 tasks are is to walk in the shoes of a stranded traveler. On your next trip (if you’re brave enough), wait until you land at the airport to make a hotel reservation. What information do you need to make the booking and what are the pain points?

  • Make the Purchase Path FAST and EASY
    Travelers will have their hands full of luggage and tired children. They will be rushing to find a hotel room before the last shuttle leaves the airport. They may be in foreign territory with spotty or expensive data connectivity. The purchase process must be highly streamlined or customers will abandon the purchase. IHG’s mobile apps open directly to a map of nearby hotels with prices for that night.
  • Don’t Forget the Post-Purchase Experience
    The strength of the smartphone is it goes with the traveler once the booking is made. How can it assist in not only booking, but every aspect of the travel experience. For example, provide real-time driving directions from the user’s current location to the hotel.

The opportunities for travel companies to reach stranded travelers is growing fast and the risk of frustrating an already frustrated user is high, but if travel companies start with these basic guidelines to drive their mobile apps and websites then the end result should be positive travel experiences for their customers.

Darin Wonn is Product Manager for Mobile Apps at InterContinental Hotels Group. Follow him on twitter @darinwonn.

To hear more about IHG’s work in the mobile marketing space, join us this March at The Mobile Marketing Conference. Darin will be speaking on The Mobile Traveler on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012. Download the brochure here to learn more.


Mobile Marketing for The Travel Industry

January is a big month for the travel industry: with the holidays behind us, many consumers are dreaming of that getaway to escape from the long winter ahead. I see the evidence of this trend every day as my inbox fills up with sales and specials from various travel sites.

So, with this in mind, how should travel brands ramp up to 2012 marketing? Stephen Gates of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (who will be leading our workshop at The Mobile Marketing Conference “Best Practices in Creating Mobile Websites”) recently shared the video interview below with mobithinking.com.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is one of the world’s largest hotel groups focused on luxury brands, and Gates discusses here how Mobile and HTML5 allow Starwood to create a mobile brand experience that stays true to the unique personality of each of their brands.

Some key takeaways: Travelers are more likely to turn to mobile for information, as it is easier to access in a distant location than traditional internet.
Travelers are looking for largely utilitarian, transactional information (a reservation number or address) and are in a hurry to find it, make it easy to find this information via your mobile site.
Mobile provides an immediate conduit to your consumers while they are currently using your service, users largely access information via mobile while they are staying or just before.

Stephen also shares some ideas about how HTML5 will impact the future of Starwood’s mobile presence. Head to mobithinking.com for more or to view their full series of mobile expert interviews.

Or, to hear more from Stephen Gates, join us this March at The Mobile Marketing Conference. Download the brochure to learn more about his workshop. Save 15% when you register with code TMMC12DIGITAL here.

P.S. Join our social media community! Our new LinkedIn Group is a place to share expertise and brilliant ideas on anything mobile marketing and you can also follow us on Twitter or on Facebook for conference updates and industry insider news.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com

Examples of online communities in the travel industry

For the next in our series of Online Community Examples we are looking at examples of online communities in the travel industry

Online communities in the travel industry

The travel industry is one well suited to online communities focused on engagement. Whether you’re an airline, holiday company or hotel chain, your guests typically only experience the brand on a limited number of occasions annually. They may be leisure travellers who might only stay at your hotel once per year or even business travellers who use your airline each time they fly to New York. In all cases the experiences these consumers have with your brand are limited and for a fixed period of time only. Online communities offer you a way to extend this brand experience between visits or experiences, they allow you to engage and interact with your consumers even when they are not staying at your hotel or flying your airline. This is of critical importance when it comes to rebooking – if you can keep your brand at the forefront of your consumers’ minds then they are more likely to rebook with you. If you can offer them extra services, or offer a way to extend their holiday experience, they are more likely to rebook with you. The three examples below show different ways in which companies in the travel industry are using online communities to engage their customers with a view to increasing customer loyalty.

Best Western’s On the Go with Amy

One of the real benefits of social media for travel is it puts a human and personal face on what is a very personal experience. One reason why people use Tripadvisor so much is that it contains real reviews from real people talking about their own experiences. But rather than just using experiences as reviews, we can also use personal experiences as inspiration tools. And this is what Best Western do so well with On the Go with Amy. As with many great examples of online communities, On the Go with Amy is simple concept, but one that delivers well against Best Western’s objectives. The community is a blog from travel journalist Amy Graff, where she share first hand travel experience and chronicles her trips and visits. From a business trip to New York to a family road tip down Route 66 in the US. By using this medium, Best Western are putting the excitement and experience back into travel. They are giving people a set of first-hand experience and by juxtaposing business and leisure travel they are associating themselves with both of these experiences. Amy has become the company’s travel spokesperson. As well as chronicling her own travel, she gives on issues from advice on travel accessories and on historical sites to visit with children. This community gives people a real insight into travel, ideas and advice but does it with a personal voice and a very public face. The site is clearly branded and supported by Best Western but it is not overtly selling their hotels. It is engaging people in a personal experience, which is what travel is all about.

Marmara’s Marmarafit

Marmara is a French travel agency that specialises in package holidays in the Mediterranean. They have a loyal customer base and people will often return to a Marmara resort for their annual holidays. In 2008 they launched an online community site to allow people to continue their experience even when they are not on holiday. The community site has two basic parts:

  1. Marmaramis: every Member who joins the community gets a profile which allows you to upload photos of your vacations, tell the community where you have been on holiday and which resort you are going to next (and the dates). You can also make friends with people you have met on holiday or with people you are going away with.
  2. ClubMarmara: using this profiling data, individual members can be associated with the Resorts to which they have been or that they are going to. Their photos, videos and discussions are associated with the relevant Resort.

The site provides a way for people to share their experiences when they get back from holiday, keep in touch with friends they met on Resort and post photos and videos of their vacation to share with these people. They can also find people who are going to be on the same holiday as them before they go, ask questions about Resorts they have never been to and find out what it is really like in the words of people who have been before. In this respect, the site is a great customer retention tool. It provides a way for customers to extend the holiday experience even when they are not away. But the site also offers significant benefits in terms of customer acquisition. It is building a large quantity of discussions and descriptions of holidays, great both from a search perspective but also as peer-to-peer marketing. If you have never been to a particular resort before, or indeed never been on vacation with Marmara, you can read real reviews, see real photos and even contact people who have been on holiday to ask them for their thoughts. Getting your customers to really do you marketing for you.

Qantas Travel Insider

Many airlines have launched online community sites in the last year. We have already written about BA’s MetroTwin and the Air France-KLM Bluenity sites. Qantas launced it’s own online community at the end of 2008: Qantas Travel Insider. The site is aimed specifically at the airline’s Frequent Flyers and allows them to describe their first-hand experiences of destinations, recommending places to stay, eat or drink and things to do in the various cities to which Qantas flies. This is a clever use of passenger experiences and knowledge. The Frequent Flyers are the ones who know the destinations best, and they are also those most likely to find themselves going to a new city and needing advice like this. By focusing on this group, Qantas is also catering for the desire for us to share with and learn from ‘people like me’. The Frequent Flyers will associate with each other and so lend credibility to the advice. Alongside the user-generated travel advice, Qantas Travel Insider also has a large amount of more editorial content. From articles and recommendations to blogs and the Ask the Crew feature. This is a good approach to online communities – users don’t necessarily care about who gives them advice or tips, they just want to know that it is both from a credible source and of use to them. Mixing user-generated content with editorial content and expert advice can be successful online community strategy. In the case of Qantas, it also lets them use their own expertise – getting cabin crew to answer questions about things to do and places to go at destinations. Adding a concierge service to their on-board service and thus really enhancing the passenger experience.From the FreshNetworks Blog See all our Online Community Examples Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog