Mobile is now an essential component in the travel niche — particularly in terms of marketing. The significance of travel mobile apps is subsequently on the rise.

While mobile marketing used to be something “the big guys” did, the widespread use of mobile gadgets made it both simple and necessary for even the smallest businesses to partake.

When you looking into how mobile is working in your particular area of the travel industry, it’s important to start with the numbers.

This shift toward mobile means you need to consider adopting a mobile strategy.

Data always opens the door to many questions — the biggest one of course is, “What does this mean to me and my business?”

The easiest way to answer this question and many of the others you have is to look at what others in the industry are doing.

Hotels and Smartphones

Booking a hotel using a smartphone is becoming a common practice for travelers all over the world.

While long-term planning involves more desktop use, last-minute smartphone hotel booking numbers are on the rise.

In the modern world, many travelers rely on their mobile Internet to find hotels when they are on the go.

Travel mobile apps allow travelers to avoid extensive long-term planning which allows them to be as spontaneous–something that many travelers enjoy.

When check-in is about three to four months away, about 6% of booking occurs via a smartphone.

The numbers steadily grow as the check-in time approaches. Once it’s only 24 hours away, 42% of people use a smartphone to book a room.

Without an easy-to-use app, you are easily losing out on a significant percentage of travelers who are already on the road.

In fact, many hotel businesses make a mobile strategy a priority for booking. Some hotels have even gone as far as creating mobile check-in options.

Keep in mind, when you use a third party app to do your online booking for you, you are surrendering a commission to that company. Sometimes up to 15%.

With the way the app market is changing, you could easily invest that money into creating your own app and using it not only for booking but also for marketing as well.

Marketing your hotel with apps is how hotel owners boost their ratings. It’s a great trade-off, the customer gets a comfortable and convenient experience, and your hotel benefits with feedback that increases its ranking on those important travel sites.

So, when you are looking to have an app developed for your hotel, be sure you offer the following features to help market your hotel.

  • Social media links for feedback
  • TripAdvisor comment option
  • Yelp’s comment option

By creating a smartphone-adaptable marketing strategy, even the smallest hotel can climb its way up the rankings. Bringing information to the guests’ fingertips when they wake up in the morning or are looking for a place to stay in the middle of the night is a major part of the success formula.

Travel Agents and Smartphones

There are many different travel apps available for smartphone users.

Savvy travel agents must consider creating apps of their own. An app is a tool that allows the seller to stay connected to the buyer while making the experience fast and interactive.

When it comes to travel planning, emails and phone calls are becoming a thing of the past. Whatever takes longer than a few clicks is considered outdated.

A user-friendly app interface that provides a quick connection to flight, hotel, tour, and car booking options is precisely what a modern day traveler requires.

The reality of today’s world is that people who have money to travel need to work hard to earn it. They are always on the run and don’t have time to leisurely sit in front of their computer while having a long conversation with a travel agent.

Another smart approach to mobile apps is the offline functionality. It’s important to remember about roaming charges, airplane modes, and “noplacevilles” that might not offer stable internet connection.

Apps that provide offline capabilities, such as maps and guides are more likely to bring the most profits.

Mobile Marketing for Small Business in The Travel Industry

Is mobile marketing for a small business in the travel industry as easy as creating an app? It is.  In the past, the cost was a significant deterrent for companies that wished to develop an app.  That is not the case any longer.

Today, an app for local attractions offering an excursion to swim with the dolphins is not only affordable, but it’s also a less expensive marketing tool than traditional print materials.

You just need to make sure your app has the following options:

  • Full address coupled with a detailed map (preferable Google maps)
  • “Click to call” button for calling the owner without having to switch to the phone and dial a number
  • “Click to email” or “live chat” option to send a quick message to the operator
  • Real-time booking interface for quick booking and confirmation via phone or email
  • Push notifications options to send reminders
  • Geofencing capabilities to target people in the area
  • Loyalty programs to keep customers coming back
  • Digital coupons to entice customers to check out what you have to offer them

Catering to the traveler is the goal of any small business in the travel industry.

Since most of the travelers are using their smartphones, it’s imperative for your business’s health that you become smartphone-friendly.

Conclusion

The problem of cost used to be what left many of the little guys out of the mobile market. But that’s no longer the case.

As travel mobile apps become more affordable and easy to build, more and more businesses in the travel industry are starting to capitalize on their convenience and cost effectiveness.

There’s no reason that you should not begin exploring the option of a mobile app and a mobile marketing strategy to go with it.

Author Bio: Erin Schollaert is the founder and CEO of Main Street Mobile Apps, a mobile app development company with a vision of giving small businesses affordable 21st century marketing tools. Her goal is to develop and create solutions that support small and medium size businesses in small communities.

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