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Tour operators, Think mobile !

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It’s no wonder that Facebook announced the other day that anybody that wanted to get into the travel business should make sure they had an app ready for the customers. The democratization of computers changed the way that we worked. Then, the internet came along and revolutionized the way we lived every day. While we were still getting used to that, social networks turned the world upside down and now it’s the turn of applications on mobile devices to revolutionize the revolution yet again!

•    Lee McCabe announced last week as global head of travel at Facebook that revenue was up in particular.
•    Facebook set up the travel branch of the company in 2011: “…to better understand brands’ needs, learn to speak their language, and most importantly, build the right products and services for the industry…. We verticalized for several industries, not just travel…. I can’t give you specifics, but travel is one of our fastest growing verticals.”
•    There are roughly 1.25 billion Facebook accounts and there are 42% of those people that post travel-related stories on Facebook.
•    Easy! Social networks like Facebook are there to let everyone know where you are going before you get there, what you’re doing while you’re there and then that you have made it home, with a few pics in between at the airport or the station.
•    Facebook admitted that they are gearing everything towards mobile devices today and travel in particular is excellent as a catalyst.
•    It’s been estimated that 12% of vacation bookings will be through mobile devices with the next twelve months and that is big business for travel companies.
•    At least, it will be if the travel company has an application to allow the customer to actually come into being!

According to McCabe, there is an average of 26 apps on each person’s mobile device and out of those devices there is at least one application that is related to traveling. There aren’t many companies out there that have travel apps these days, and that means that there are big openings to be grabbed by those companies that are fast-movers in the market. People tend to stick with the app that they have when they are happy with it. The chances of switching to another app are low if the user gets what they want. They don’t have multiple travel apps; just one.

The challenge is getting into contact with those people that are considering a vacation in some destination or other and then of course converting it into a sale. That means being effective and having the efficiency to deal with providing the app user immediately with what they need.
But, what does a good app for travel need to get that conversion that turns into a sale? Any app that is worth its weight in gold will do one thing: solve a problem that the user didn’t realize that it had and provide the perfect solution. That could be an app that finds the fastest route to get somewhere, or local food that you want to taste when travelling in OuterMongolia. It could be how to ask for another towel in Japanese or finding your hotel in Beijing. Whatever it is, the app has to bring the solution to the people where they are and that could be anywhere in the world.   It’s innovative and it’s quirky; at least that’s what users want these days.

So marketers, think about it!

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