Travel and leisure marketing: Are you taking advantage of the rise in same-day mobile bookings?

September 20, 2012

The Hotel Tonight app has been downloaded by more than 800,000 iPhone users.

A variety of new mobile tools and apps cater to procrastinators and locals

If your hotel or resort property’s website isn’t optimized for mobile, you could be losing out on the growing market for same-day bookings.

According to a recent story in USA Today, online travel agencies are introducing a rising number of booking tools and features geared towards people who book a room on the day of their stay.

The statistics indicate this phenomenon is not just a passing trend

  • 60% of mobile bookings on Priceline are for the same day
  • 65% of Orbitz’ mobile bookings are same-day reservations versus 14% for desktop computers
  • Marriott recently reported that 50% of its same-day bookings came through the mobile channel
  • More than 800,000 iPhone users have downloaded Hotel Tonight an app featuring daily hotel deals

Who are these people and why do they wait until the last day to book?

They include:

  • travelers who don’t like to plan
  • long-distance commuters working late
  • homeowners without electricity
  • travelers whose flight are cancelled
  • suburban deal seekers
  • couples celebrating anniversaries

Should your travel brand take advantage of this new trend?

  • Hotel Tonight reports that participating hotels like their service because they don’t have to commit a minimum number of rooms
  • Given that an average of 40% of rooms go unbooked each night, why wouldn’t you explore this new opportunity?

How much of your bookings are coming through same-day mobile reservations?

Tell us how this new trend is affecting your business and what you’ve learned so far.


Travel marketing: Before you put a QR code in your next travel ad, read this.

September 13, 2012

According to Forrester, only 5% of Americans surveyed actually scanned a QR code.

QR codes are showing up in all sorts of travel ads, but are they effective?

According to a Forrester Research, only 14 million Americans scanned QR codes in a recent 3-month period.

Their research found that only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones actually used the 2-D codes in a recent 3-month period.

And the majority of those 14 million early adopters were young, affluent males.

Ad Age recently interviewed some experts in the field and reported three reasons that QR codes haven’t caught on:

  1. People are confused about how to use them.
  2. There’s little uniformity among the apps that read them.
  3. Many of the codes link to useless information or to the company’s website.

Melissa Parish, Forrester’s senior analyst-social and mobile marketing had this to say:

QR codes are “another instance of shiny-object syndrome.  Something becomes trendy or sexy, and marketers feel they have to jump onboard to position themselves as innovative and make sure they don’t fall behind.”

If you want to increase the likelihood of prospective guests scanning your QR code consider the following:

  • Make the content you link the QR code to rewarding and valuable.
  • Make sure your QR code is readable.
  • Don’t post codes on billboards in areas with no internet access or poor cell phone coverage like subways or in-flight magazines.

For examples of how not to use QR codes, check out QR Blaster’s list of the worst campaigns of the year using QR codes.

And while you’re’ at it, tell us how you’ve used QR codes effectively. Or if you’re really brave, tell us how they haven’t worked for you.

Travel and Leisure: 12 new ways your travel brand could use QR codes

June 18, 2012

San Antonio’s River Walk uses QR codes on a self-guided tour

As specialists in 5 to 9 brands, travel and leisure clients are always asking us for advice on the latest technologies. Today I’m going to address three questions many travel and destination brands are asking about QR codes:

1.  Why should I use QR codes?

QR codes are a great way to connect prospective guests who are offline to information about your brand that is online. Just make sure your site is mobile-friendly, as people scan QR codes with their smart phones.

2. What are some of the ways hotels and destinations are using QR codes?

The key to successfully integrating QR codes into your marketing program is to ensure they offer some kind of value add.  In other words, you have to give guests something they do not yet have.

Mike Supple, Sr. Social Media Manager at Milestone Internet Marketing offers several ways hotels are successfully using QR codes to add value to the guest experience:

  • Guest Reviews: Create a mobile review page and link it to a QR code on the hotel bill to encourage guests to write a review while their memories are still fresh.
  • Restaurant Reservations: Leave a QR code on a sample menu to your restaurant, and link it to your OpenTable or Yelp page so guests can make a reservation.
  • Property Map: If you’re a large resort, display QR codes around the property and link them to a map that shows guests where they are and how to get where they are going.
  • Fun and Games: Create weekly treasure hunts linked by signs with QR codes that lead your guests through the best parts of your property.
  • Promotional Offers: Put QR codes in ads or brochures linking to special discounts only available through that QR code.

Patrick Landman from TNooze  believes guests are getting tired of having deals and offers thrown at them from every direction. Instead, he recommends that you use QR codes to provide a better guest experience. Some of Patrick’s recommendations include:

  • Use QR codes in cards in their rooms, notices on elevators, at the concierge desk and at message boards in the lobby with tips on where to dine or what to do on their stay.
  • Drive guests to a promotional landing page, not just your hotel website.
  • Include a call to action that tells guests exactly what to do. Example: “Scan this code for our latest restaurant, shopping and tourist tips.”

3. What are some interesting ways travel brands are using QR codes?

In a recent blog post, Troy Thompson, from Travel 2.0, cited three interesting ways travel brands are using QR codes:

  • The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau uses QR technology on its self-guided River Walk tour to deliver additional content like photos, videos and historical information.
  • The Glendale AZ CVB puts a QR code on their door that directs after-hours visitors to their mobile site.
  • To celebrate National Arbor Day, New York’s Central Park  created the World Park campaign using QR codes. The campaign is explained in the video below:

How is your hotel or destination using QR codes to market to your guests? Share your examples with us and we’ll use them in an upcoming post.

Travel marketing: Why the smart phone is now a mobile marketing device.

September 5, 2011

The growth of mobile gives marketers a new medium to reach travelers.

A recent TripAdvisor survey confirms that mobile has opened up a whole new world of opportunities to travel marketers.

TripAdvisor recently published the results of a survey of 1,000 U.S users of mobile devices.  The results are stunning.

The research confirms what travel marketing specialists have been saying for months: Large numbers of travelers are using mobile phones to do the tasks they used to do on their computers.

When asked what travel planning processes they do with their mobile phones:

  • 52%  researched restaurants
  • 46% read about destinations
  • 45% read traveler reviews
  • 42% researched or booked accommodations
  • 34% researched or booked flights

Once a traveler hits the road, their smart phones are becoming even more indispensable:

  • 62% use their smart phone to research restaurants
  • 51% check their flight status
  • 46% research attractions
  • 28% check into a restaurant, hotel or attraction

This fact has not been lost on great travel brands like TripAdvisor.

According to Mike Putnam, director of mobile product for TripAdvisor: “It is clear that travelers around the world now rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to plan and have better trips.”

That’s having far-reaching implications for travel and hospitality marketers.

How can you capitalize on this dramatic change in traveler behavior?

  • Have you optimized your website for mobile?
  • Does your mobile site allow visitors to make reservations?
  • Have you created content and promotions just for your mobile guests?
  • Are you responding to reviews on TripAdvisor and other review sites?

If you’re the marketer of a travel brand, it’s time to get on board with the mobile revolution.

The TripAdvisor survey confirms once again that this train has left the station. So tell us:  What are you doing differently to take advantage of this new consumer behavior?

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