Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse

mobile marketingThe increase of mobile devices has changed the world as we know it, as businesses have needed to adapt and become more mobile-friendly.

Beacon technology—placing beacons to send location-based information and offers to these mobile devices—could have a similar impact in the travel industry and beyond.

Evan Schwartz, CEO of ActionX, a mobile app and cross-screen retargeting company, certainly sees the potential in the technology. The technology has been gaining steam in the last few years, Schwartz said, but it’s about to “explode” in 2015.

The draw of beacon technology to businesses is simple. You aren’t communicating with consumers across a TV screen, where they could be miles away from your business. You are communicating with them at the selling location itself. Retailers have begun to introduce the technology to the public, and it’s starting to make its way into the travel industry, with hotels, airports and airlines beginning to use it.

Miami International Airport, for example, recently launched a new app that uses beacons to help consumers find the correct gate for departure while sending them notifications on their mobile devices for restaurant and retail deals while they’re travelling through the airport.

Marriott International now features beacon technology at 14 of its properties in the United States since unveiling the technology in July 2014. The LocalPerks initiative is available exclusively to Marriott Rewards members, making Marriott Rewards the first major hotel loyalty program to offer geo-targeted, mobile offers during a guest’s stay.

Schwartz, who already has several clients lined up to introduce the technology in the future, told TravelPulse that he sees beacon technology making a similar impact to the travel industry as mobile apps did. He specifically highlighted Virgin Atlantic and Apple as examples.

Virgin Atlantic ran a trial in May 2014 for Upper Class passengers at London Heathrow Airport using Apple’s iBeacon technology. Upper Class passengers had the opportunity to receive special partner offers as they passed through the airport, such as 0 percent commission at a MoneyCorp currency exchange booth.

At the time, Reuben Arnold, brand and customer engagement director for Virgin Atlantic, said the airline had only “skimmed the surface” of the technology, exploring the ability to notify customers of open appointments at the Clubhouse spa or introduce crew members as they board their flight, via the Virgin Atlantic blog.

Beacon technology makes a lot of sense because it almost works like a business owner standing outside and inviting customers in: it’s directly targeting customers at the point of sale.

In fact, Schwartz told TravelPulse back in October that the clients ActionX works with are no longer content with a boost in app downloads—they want to see a clear indication of a boost in revenue. In that sense, beacon technology is naturally a new way of doing just that. It’s no surprise that major companies such as Virgin Group and Apple are embracing the technology with open arms. It’s also no surprise that ActionX—a company that specializes in mobile advertising—has taken it and ran with it.

But why has it taken a few years to really get beacon technology off the ground? Well, as with any advanced technology, it takes some tinkering to completely understand. Businesses have been learning how to fully implement beacon technology into their properties, Schwartz said.

As Sarah Bradley, director of Marriott Rewards Digital Strategy and leader of the LocalPerks initiative, told TravelPulse in December, it’s particularly more difficult to implement the technology at, say, a large-scale resort than it is at a small retailer. You have to make sure beacons don’t cross signals and bandwidth usage can be a problem.

“Installing beacons is a relatively simple process, but the strategy behind their placement and how to trigger the messages is more complex then we had expected,” Bradley said at the time. “The number of outlets, the layout of the hotel and the type of business the hotel drives all impact the placement and message strategy. We have learned quickly, however, and our core team has done a fantastic job of creating a unique experience.”

And for those worried about getting blasted with digital offers everywhere they are (futuristic movies such as “The Fifth Element” come to mind), rest assured, you not only have to download a specific app, but you also have to turn on Bluetooth, location services and the app’s notifications. Similar to personalized on-line marketing these days, advertisers using beacon technology don’t want to bombard consumers with offers, Schwartz noted. They are targeting them for a reason: It could genuinely be of interest to the consumer.

And as travellers move across this wondrous world, beacon technology is only a natural fit for the travel industry.

via Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse.

Webtrends Recommends Best Practices to Help Travel Sites Increase Bookings

insights_phocuswrightPORTLAND, OR–Marketwired – Aug 26, 2014

PhoCusWright survey highlights the online research and booking tendencies of travelers:

  • Consumers use an average of 6.5 sites and devices to research before booking travel
  • 41 percent of travelers research travel using mobile devices smartphone or tablet
  • 55 percent of travelers prefer to book using a desktop or laptop even if they research using mobile

Given the number of steps involved in today’s average travel purchase, online booking sites are faced with serious challenges when it comes to understanding customers. In a recent travel survey sponsored by Webtrends and conducted by PhoCusWright, travelers who have taken at least one leisure trip within the past year involving a hotel or airline purchase were asked to identify the number of touch points that led to their purchase. Touch points are defined as both sites visited and devices used during the booking process. Survey findings include:

Travelers search multiple web sources when preparing to book trips, and the preference is overwhelmingly in favor of using desktops — 79 percent of travelers use online travel agencies/apps for research compared to 14 percent who use smartphones and 11 percent who use tablets.

Frequent travelers 6+ trips/year, big spenders spend $6000/annually on travel, early tech adopters and mobile travel shoppers use more touch points than the mean, indicating that these travelers do more research than average before booking.

Consumers aged 25-34 represent the most mobile-heavy shoppers, making up 38 percent of the total users who book through mobile. As consumers age, the number of touch points used to book travel decreases, identifying a key opportunity for sites to capture market share within that age demographic.

Top reasons travelers give for not booking via mobile devices are that they prefer to book via desktop/laptop 55 percent, the mobile screen is too small 31 percent, not ready to book when shopping on a mobile device 30 percent, and they are not comfortable booking via a mobile device 26 percent.

Travel booking sites have an opportunity to increase conversions and customer loyalty by providing a personalized, easy-to-use experience for customers who are using multiple devices. The following are five digital best practices suggested by Webtrends to help travel booking sites better understand their consumers and better focus their marketing spend:

1. Discover what matters to each individual traveler. In order to deliver relevant and personalized experiences to visitors, travel sites must take a sophisticated approach to the digital booking process by knowing each visitor on an individual basis. This allows brands to create the most relevant user experiences. By leveraging visitor-level measurement and optimization tools, brands can personally assist each traveler with his or her search and avoid the risk of that visitor booking elsewhere.

2. Understand travelers across their entire journey and on all devices. While you can’t control how consumers interact with your site, you can learn from that interaction — and learn to read between the channels. It’s not just about what a consumer did on a website or a mobile device, it’s about the journey and interaction between devices. For example, research may be done on a smartphone, but the user may ultimately book using a tablet. By painting a cumulative picture of consumers that includes both action and intent, brands can understand cross-channel flows and make informed decisions on where to invest both effort and spend.

3. Test everything across all channels. Whether it is flight/hotel booked or Average Order Value, metrics are essential to the travel industry. Constantly testing and measuring results allows brands to improve the booking experience and drive up KPIs — ensuring brands get the most yield for every dollar spent on marketing optimization programs. Evaluate your campaigns constantly and make adjustments regularly to see which messages result in the greatest return. Brands should continue to evolve the booking process because there isn’t a one-time fix. Channels should evolve depending on season, visitor demographics, travel pricing and other criteria.

4. Take immediate action. Every traveler has a purpose when visiting a site and historical data only tells part of that story. Real-time data is the clearest indicator of current intent, and using those in-the-moment insights to see what travelers are searching for and clicking on is the best way for brands to provide a relevant experience while the traveler is still engaged, regardless of channel or device. By reaching out to a visitor while that person is still thinking about the purchase, whether it’s through a pop up ad, an email immediately after he’s left the site or an offer for a lower fare, conversion becomes increasingly more likely. 5. Leverage technology that plays well with others. . Booking sites must have the flexibility to change and adapt in order to improve experiences for travelers across digital channels. When selecting tools, make sure you are leveraging technologies that are compatible and open. Otherwise, you may be forced to make compromises in your strategy in order to conform to a closed system.

via Webtrends Recommends Best Practices to Help Travel Sites Increase Bookings.