Mobile has become the disruptor, if not the disruption enabler

Mobile techI just returned from Dallas, Texas, where I had the great opportunity to deliver the breakfast keynote at their local chapter of PRSA‘s (Public Relations Society of America) annual Communication Summit. The topic? Communications Reinvented: Adapt or Die! While the title was meant to be a tad click-baity to draw attention, the subject was essentially about how today’s consumer is becoming increasingly difficult to reach and attract, with thinning attention spans as we are bombarded with texts, photos, videos, ads and press releases left, right and center, morning, noon and night.

In this fast-moving communications landscape, understanding the potential stemming from mobile adoption is not only important, it’s become a must! While the focus of my keynote was not exclusively on mobile, I realize in hindsight how much mobile really has become the disruptor, if not the disruption enabler.

To begin with, allow me to share these most recent stats about mobile adoption to level the playing field here:

  • There are now officially more mobile users than desktop user worldwide, since 2014 (see above);
  • Mobile media time is now greater than desktop and other connected device! (see below)
  • 71% of mobile users who encountered a non-mobile-optimized website bounced back to their search results. (Source: Leonardo)
  • By 2017 more than 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, according to Euromonitor. In fact, it is already estimated that more that between 20-25% of online travel revenues come from mobile devices in 2015, according to emarketer.

Of course, I could go on and on with other equally powerful stats but I think you get the point by now. Mobile is not a trend, and it is certainly not something that will impact consumers and travel marketing in a hypothetical future. It’s happening now!

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Mobile advertising

In the most recent edition of the Mary Meeker Report that came out earlier in 2015, we can clearly see how much time we actually spend on mobile compared to other mainstream media, namely internet, TV, radio and print. While American consumers spend only 4% of their time on printed media, brands still invest 18% of their advertising budget on these platforms. At the other end of the spectrum, notice how much time we spend on mobile, but how very little brands tend to invest here.

But the real kicker lies in how we define mobile advertising. Is it simply transferring AdWords campaigns to mobile rather than desktop? While search remain key, many brands opt for ad banners for example. Yet with the advent of ad blocking apps, such as the one integrated in the latest iOS9 iteration, mobile ads won’t work as well. So how can we reach mobile consumers most effectively? Social media, that’s how.

Thus, it’s no surprise to see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest provide novel and more sophisticated ways to reach out to targeted users on their respective networks. And with Facebook now integrating ads to Instagram, perhaps we can even expect cross-over to Whatsapp in 2016?

How we purchase

Mobile is also a key distribution channel to consider in an integrated omni-channel strategy. In 2015, we have reached the tipping point in the travel industry, as more than 50% of the global web traffic is estimated to be coming from mobile devices – smartphones and tablets combined. But lookers are becoming bookers as mobile sites become more ubiquitous and effective, as an estimated 25% of online travel revenues are now coming from mobile in the US!

While these stats may seem impressive, they also cover a generational divide as Millenials are much more connected than older generations. It’s therefore no wonder to see companies like Aloft Hotels cater to this clientele through new emojis, making mobile transactions seamless, reaching the target audience on its preferred device and on-the-go. That’s the essence of their most recent TiGi (Text-It, Get-It) initiative on mobile devices, shown above.

Streaming live

With the increasingly high rates of mobile adoption come the inevitable decreases in costs of usage. Sure, it’s still not cheap to have a decent voice and data package, specially if you live in Canada where we have less choice than in the US, Europe or Asia, but costs have gone down in recent years. Same can be said with roaming fees, that are becoming less of a hurdle, while Wi-Fi is also becoming more widespread, even though free Wi-Fi is not the norm everywhere, unfortunately (and sadly so).

This partly explains the recent rise of streaming options such as Meerkat, Periscope or Blab, not to mention new functionalities within Skype or even Facebook Live. Streaming live to followers on Twitter or Facebook is the new rage! It is therefore interesting to see travel brands such as Royal Caribbean International embrace the potential stemming from these tools with their most recent “Come Seek” campaign.

In this campaign targeting Millenials and first-time cruisers, RCI acknowledges the need to talk differently and craft a message based more on authentic storytelling than traditional promotional speak. Throughout the month of November, travelers on board RCI ships will be streaming live through Periscope not only to their social networks… but also to over 200 billboards in the State of New York, reaching a larger audience and showcasing the “real deal” as it happens. Risky? A bit, yes. But the payoff could be interesting…

Will beacons breakthrough in 2016?

Another high potential tool that remains fairly elusive for most marketers right now is the beacon. Already used by retail brands and companies such as McDonald’s or Starbucks, beacons are devices that allow push notifications to mobile users, assuming they have a given application on their device. And therein lies the real challenge and mass scalability for this technology. In the travel & hospitality realm, beacons could represent great opportunities for travelers arriving at a destination, hotel or restaurant, where a push notification could communicate a promotion, special offer or simply enhance the customer experience, i.e. get valet parking, room service, etc.

Will beacons breakthrough in 2016 or will they go down a similar path as QR codes did in a recent past? Too early to tell, but the potential is there, no doubt.

About the author

authorFrederic Gonzalo is a senior marketing and communications expert and speaker with more than 20 years of expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, he provides strategic planning, social media and mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach him
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