Google has been known as a web search company for aeons. Now, Google is literally into everything on the web, including a growing penetration into the travel vertical.
The primary factor behind this successful penetration lies in the smooth integration of all Google products. It’s all blended nicely with each other.
Google+, the social networking platform that was launched in June 2011, has integrated with multiple Google products.
Google+ is now the worldâ€™s second largest social network, with Facebook retaining the top position. Google’s YouTube stands third and Twitter at fourth, according to Trendstreamâ€™sÂ GlobalWeekIndex.
Trendstream estimates that for the final quarter of 2012, Facebook had some 693 million active users, seconded by Google+, with its 343 million active users. YouTube was at number three, followed by Twitter.
One of the main reason for Facebook’s high rate of user adoption is that it offers the ability for any website or mobile app to allow “Sign-in with Facebook” option throughÂ Facebook Login. Even to comment on an article, Facebook login is enabled.
The mantra lies in making the network open for third parties to consume / plug-in / integrate. And once its done, the sky’s the limit on what third-party applications will do with those features.
Whether you are building an app for Android, iOS, or the web, users can now sign-in to your travel app with Google+ credentials.
This simply means that a hotel provider, say a hypothetical site like Tnooz-Hotels.com, will be able to offer Google+ sign-in while making a room reservation, offer a more customized experience in the website/app and allow customers to share your product information in Google+ with various ‘call-to-action’ buttons (new in Google+).
There are three main aspects to be aware of with respect to Google+ sign-in integration.
1. Google+ Sign-In option:
Allow users to sign-in with the same Google credentials. You can prompt users to sign in to Google not only at signup, but also when they return to your site, or at any other time, to take full advantage of your siteâ€™s social features.
An important step in this step is, as a travel company, you will learn more about your customers and their (Google+) friends.
With the user’s permission, Google+ sign-in gives you access to their basic information from their public profile and the list of people in their circles. Below are some of the details that you will have access to:
- Customer full name, profile picture, Google+ ID, age range, and language
- A list of people your customer is connected to on Google+
- Any other publicly available information on your customer’s Google+ profile
2. Interactive posts:
This is a unique feature in Google+. Travel companies will be able to create their own call-to-action button that will be placed in the post that a user shares in their Google+ page.
John reserves a Holiday Inn hotel room at Tnooz-Hotels.com.
When John shares the hotel details in his Google+ page, in addition to displaying the hotel name and description, Tnooz-Hotels will be able to place a “Book” button in that post.
John’s friends will see the Holiday Inn hotel details along with “Book” button.
When John’s friends click on “Book” button, they will be taken to Tnooz-Hotels.com (or to any link the company wishes to).
These kind of interactive posts allow customers to bring people they care about to a travel company’s app for a specific purpose.
Users can send posts asking people to sign up, write a review, book something, check-in, dine, eat, find a table, rate, redeem a coupon, save an offer or whatever your app calls for.
Google+ provides 100 such call-to-action button options: 100 button labels.
Now, the next logical question is, “How do we track the success of these interactive posts? What kind of call-to-action buttons work best for us? Will placing “Book Now” button yield better results than a “Book” button?”
Google+ Platform InsightsÂ allows a travel company to view data/report on post views, clicks, app installs from interactive posts, and more.
Make the most out of interactive posts:
- Make it meaningful:Â Users should be meaningfully engaged in your app before being prompted to send an interactive post to their friends. This way, posts will feel authentic and personal.
- Provide context:Â The post content should make it clear why the recipient would want to click the call-to-action button and where the button will take them.
Getting access to your customer’s Google+ profile information can open doors for lot of things, including:
a) Profile information:
New users to a company’s app/website can setup profiles in jiffy without needing to start from scratch or maintain a separate profile just for that app.
b) Connect friends:
This feature will help your customers find their friends who also use your service/app through their Circle connections on Google+.
You can recommend people to follow in your app, especially if you are in the social travel business or if you want to encourage users to recommend your app to their friends based on whom they are connected to on Google+.
A quick look at what TripAdvisor did with deep Facebook integration tells us of the importance of this particular feature. Read our earlier posts about ‘TripAdvisor + Facebook’: TripFriends, TripFriends the Sequel.
c) Content discovery:
Upon learning a customer’s profile information (after receiving their privacy consent to do so), travel companies can implement a variety of innovative features.
The website or mobile app can be customized based on the customer’s information – age range, locale, recent activity, network of friends, friends’ activities, language, and any otherÂ publiclyÂ available data.
Travel companies will be able to offer personalized services to the customer. Google+ data alone cannot personalize a customer’s experience; rather Google+ data will augment this process.
d) Dynamic marketing campaigns:
With the power of Google+ Platform Insights and access to customer data, travel companies will be able to segment their customer base.
Companies can identify and bucket their most influential customers. This lets you run campaigns and offer discounts in a much better way that might result in increased conversion.
This new feature rollout from Google is a boon for the travel industry. There will be some development cost in terms of various integrations, but it will be worth it, if done right.
Google says this is just a beginning. So that leaves enough room for anticipation on what Google+ might evolve in near future, not to forget the Google Glass that’s around the corner.
In the last couple of years, many Facebook-based travel startups have emerged, travel companies have built many innovative Facebook apps. Now, the same sequence of events is going to be repeated for Google+.