Travel companies should consider providing push alerts, the ability to modify or cancel reservations, and plenty of video and augmented reality as part of an effective mobile strategy, according to a new Forrester Research study.
The study, Why Smartphones Will Become One of Travel’s Two Most Important Touchpoints, written by Henry Harteveldt, notes that while only 22% of U.S. adults have smartphones, 35% of U.S. online leisure travelers and 55% of U.S. business travelers use these mobile devices.
“This critical mass of adoption enables — make that compels — travel organizations to develop and executive smartphone-based eBusiness strategies and tactics that will keep them connected with their travelers, an audience that is willingly tethered to their smartphones,” the study says.
By 2013, smartphone will join traditional websites as the two most important touchpoints in travel, Forrester says.
The research firm makes a series of recommendations on how travel companies should address the new mobile landscape. Among them:
- Travel companies should ensure their apps can identify the user’s mobile location, provide push alerts and have the ability to run when the traveler has no Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
“To keep app users engaged, travel sellers must configure their CRM systems to track travelers’ usage — including the ability to send alerts when a person’s usage falls below predetermined levels, so the travel seller can reach out to the traveler to re-engage him,” the study says.
- Travel sellers need to meet travelers’ expectations in terms of “what they want when they want it” and offering the ability to easily modify or cancel reservations should be a top priority, the study says. And, taking advantage of smartphones’ GPS capabilities will help ensure that travel companies can provide the most relevant offers, the study says.
- Acknowledging that “it won’t be easy,” the study advises travel sellers to inspire their customers by ensuring that apps and mobile sites provide easy navigation to video content, which should be formatted to fit nicely on a smartphone screen. Augmented reality, too, should be part of the mix, the study advises.
“For example, if consumers gain the ability to virtually try on clothing from a retailer’s smartphone app, will they soon expect the ability to ‘try on’ your business class seats, hotel rooms or shipboard spa? (Hint: The answer is yes.)”
And, with smartphones especially suited for last-minute bookings, Forrester argues that new travel revenue-management models will emerge over the next couple of years.
Says Forrester: “Under this scenario, a traveler at LaGuardia Airport using an app to find a hotel in midtown Manhattan for a same-day arrival might be offered a higher rate than a traveler at Boston Logan Airport using the same app for a room at the same hotel for the same night.”