Industry Update
Opinion Article29 October 2015

How Mobile Marketers Can Reach The Traveling Consumer

By Lahary Ravuri, Group Manager, Product Marketing - Adobe

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Putting the Customer Back in Customization

People are spending more time on their phones than ever before and the apps that will be most successful are those that provide the convenience that customers are looking for and answer questions they didn’t even know they had through true customization. The travel app industry is one of the best illustrations of what is possible when clever designers use today’s latest tools to provide intuitive and exciting customer experiences for people who are traveling for either business or pleasure. Thanks to the tools that designers have at their fingertips - data, analytics, security and more - apps have the potential to coordinate the entire journey of a traveler - from planning to enjoying to sharing - and do it well.

The Art of Customization

Travel and tourism is a $1.5 trillion industry in the United States. From accommodations, to finding somewhere to eat, to getting from point A to point B, apps offer more convenient, exciting and personal travel. As our ability to collect information and process data grows, our ability to give people custom experiences grows as well.

For the forward-thinking app designer, true customization starts before travel even begins. Weather alerts, packing lists and recommendations make sure users are perfectly prepared based on their destination and upcoming activities. Flight notifications can be sent automatically so travelers are well-scheduled and are prepared for any delay. Before someone even leaves their home, well-thought travel apps can help them have a successful journey.

Thanks to geo-positioning, an individual can be in a city for the first time and still get the best chicken tikka masala, served in a hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant that hadn’t made it into any travel guides, recommended through a crowd-sourced travel app. Well-developed apps could tell that person the best way to get to that restaurant based on their personal preference for efficiency or a desire to experience the city. Their app could provide a straight route, avoiding traffic or a more scenic route via multi-modal transportation. As they journey, their phone can show them the landmarks they pass and provide them a bit of history, or send news alerts and market data so they are up to speed.

The art of possible means travel becomes less of a hassle, less of a guessing game and potential problems are all but eliminated thanks to notifications and customizations. In this world, travelers thrive no matter what the purpose of their travel happens to be.

The Frequent Business Traveler

Business travelers are all about efficiency and upon answering a few questions within an app, their desires and needs can be communicated to airlines, hotels, and many of the other common services they will encounter. A desired plane seat, type of car service, hotel room temperature settings, wake up calls and room service - everything gets customized ahead of them and every trip becomes smoother and less stressful. That data can be stored and used with every subsequent trip, making travel more enjoyable over time as information is fed into the database. With a little bit of input, experiences become more positive over time and both the traveler and the services they use become more efficient and successful.

These days, simply walking through the hotel lobby can complete the entire check-in process, and a smartphone can serve as the key to the hotel room door - forget the days of losing the keycard or messing with a finicky magnetic strip that your phone can deactivate. At the end of a stay, tips for services can be paid through the tap of a push-notification and feedback is as simple as a few ratings on the trip back to the airport.

This video demonstrates the art of the possible for Dave, who’s traveling to San Francisco for an important meeting. Business travelers like Dave can get the most out of their trip with minimum hassle and less risk of delay thanks to innovative apps.

Customized Vacations from Start to Finish

Exploring somewhere new can be both exciting and challenging. With apps that take some of the guesswork out of travel, the possibility to more deeply experience the perfect vacation is at one’s fingertips. As plans come together, information can be shared between apps to help create perfect itineraries and packing lists. Hotels can be booked and services reserved ahead of time based on preferences and recommendations that are in line with the personality and information that has been gathered on behalf of the traveler.

A relaxing vacation with the maximum beach time can be coordinated through an app that provides accurate weather, points the traveler to a local favorite white sand beach, connects them to a nearby restaurant or bar for drinks, sends reminders for reapplying sunscreen, recommends reading materials and bring them the pages of a best-selling novel. The customization features can help anyone find the perfect restaurant for dinner, live music and dance clubs, or scenic nighttime overlooks, and geo-location services could map the perfect route around town to take in the most sites and reconfigure based on transportation type, or health of the user. An app can even locate the nearest restroom, hospital or other urgently needed amenity. For the user, travelling around a new city becomes as easy as glancing down at a screen and typing in a few bits of information then experiencing all the place has to offer.

Two-Way Sharing

While users providing information and data being gathered overtime can inform recommendations and improve app potential, an app can also take on the role of tour guide by pushing information of importance to one’s phone. Phind, for example, is an app that identifies landmarks through a phone’s camera feature, curates information from popular travel books and user submitted content and returns facts and details. This app can be used even if the user doesn’t know what they are looking at; a “Shazam for places” if you will. Apps can maximize enjoyment and experience by being with the traveler from the moment the trip is conceived to when they sit down to share experiences and stories with the people back home.

Breaking Open the Possibilities

When apps in the travel and leisure industry focus on providing more convenient, more hassle-free, and more interesting travel experiences, everyone wins. Integrating these services with the services that are used every time one travels - check-in, payment systems, maps and travel guides - brings efficiency and information to a user’s fingertips. It is possible that an app could travel with someone from the very start to the end of their trip - recommending and recording, informing and storing information all in an effort to improve the journey.

Lahary Ravuri

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