Digital has become the go-to channel for users planning a trip and looking to discover everything great that a destination has to offer.
In this mobile-first age, the travel and tourism market needs to continue recognising evolving user behaviours and cater for travellers requiring quick-and-easy access to planning and managing all elements of their trip. From booking to arrival, modern-day tourists crave solutions that ensure they have access to all information they could possible need sitting right in their pocket.
Most major airlines now offer responsive websites and dedicated mobile solutions to help book and manage flights. You’ve got engines such as Skyscanner, helping users scour the globe for suitable flights, coupled with the likes of British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair BAs, who have created their own applications to help passengers plan all elements of their flight.
More recently, and in collaboration with selected airports around the world, certain carriers now offer digital boarding cards; perfect for the casual traveller, looking to achieve a seamless, and paperless, airport experience. Digital passports are also in the early planning stages, which would afford travellers the most efficient (and paperless) means of travel as possible, but stringent security measures may mean that it’s a while before we see this becoming commonplace.
Similarly, you’ll find that almost all leading booking engines now offer dedicated mobile applications, through which individuals are able search for and book accommodation. While reserving a hotel through a mobile device may not be essential requirement even for the most digital-savvy traveller, being able to efficiently manage and amend a reservation, is.
Affording users the ability to achieve this on-the-go sits nicely with modern lifestyles, while having this information stored via a dedicated mobile app ensures that travellers have hotel, check-in and destination details to-hand when making their journey.
Easy-of-access to information around a destination, on arrival, is becoming an increasingly important requirement for tourists. While you may have done your research at home, you still want real-time guidance on where to go, what to see, how to get there, etc.
This has been recognised by businesses worldwide, with a huge number of mobile travel applications now widely available. These range from destination-specific solutions, which provide a wealth of useful information about the location you’re visiting, to more handy day-to-day apps to help you explore and communicate (Google Maps, iTranslate, for example).
Destination-specific applications, often provided by local tourism authorities, are becoming an increasingly popular one-stop-solution for travellers. Collating required information in one place, as well as incorporating useful features and functionality, is proving highly effective in allowing individuals to maximise their experience of a destination. We’ll be examining this in more detail in our next post.
More recently, highly-intelligent innovations have further capitalised on smartphone use; taxi-hailing apps have become hugely popular within the last two years, while hotel groups are using them to reshape the entire guest experience.
Hilton Hotels, for example, has introduced a dedicated app that allows you to check-in, choose your room and use your phone as your room door key, completely streamlining the arrival process. Many chains also now offer in-app functionality designed to complement a guest’s stay, such as being able directly message reception or order room service.
While the core function of the solutions discussed above is to help travellers manage different elements of their trip, there’s clear potential for further engaging users on their return home. Using mobile applications to provide information on new flight routes, hotel deals, upcoming events in the city they’ve just visited, etc. is a fantastic way to spike interest and subtly encourage reuse of a service and repeat visits to a destination.
In our next piece, we’ll examine how destination marketing organisations can capitalise on the power of mobile applications in allowing tourists to truly maximise their experience, and how this approach can directly influence the wider strategy taken to encouraging visitation.