5 Tips for Driving More Digital Bookings

By Matt Naeger Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy, Merkle | March 27, 2016

Travel industry marketers are setting their sites on the customer, following in the steps of other industries such as retail and using digital platforms to strategically target and message across the customer journey.

The advances in customer experience we see today are the result of platform and technology availability. Knowing customers like to be treated as individuals is not a new concept in customer service. Not long ago personalized treatment was reserved for face-to-face conversations and luxury experiences. Digital has evolved, but the concept remains the same.

To both the traveler and the marketer, customer experience is differentiation, timing, relevancy. Everyone wants to reach those 77 percent of travelers who use their phone in search of inspiration in spare moments or who use YouTube to dream of potential destinations and use Twitter to engage with travel brands during and after their experience. So how do travel brands reach and engage in a meaningful and performance-oriented way?

Here are five tips to help you drive digital bookings:

Tip #1 Target the Right Audience with the Right Message

Consider where the traveler is in their buying journey. Are they at the “dream,” “plan,” or “book” stage? With this and other knowledge, you have the ability to serve highly relevant messaging. There are an increasing number of platforms that enable you to better target your audience and serve that relevant messaging in a timely fashion. Google’s Customer Match is only the latest addition to your people-based marketing arsenal. In addition, Facebook Custom Audiences, Twitter Tailored Audiences, and ONE by AOL all provide marketers a way to reach their known customers across platforms and networks. You know who your loyalty members are, you can now treat them differently by serving them ads that display loyalty member perks. For a frequent traveler, maybe you serve an ad related to one of their top travel destinations.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.