Thinking back to my very first conversations with industry peers at the eTourism Summit, through to the final presentations, it was clear that mobile was the major game changer in terms of eTourism.
With the majority of the attendees and speakers being US based, it must be said that most of the statistics are relating to the US market, although fundamental movement to mobile devices is a global trend.
I believe this technological shift is the biggest change to the tourism industry that we have seen since the introduction of online travel sites. For the first time ever, travellers can easily book accommodation during their trip, access tourist information from their car and perhaps most eye opening, check reviews about your business whilst standing outside!
Believe me, it happens! In fact throughout my trip to the US our iPad hardly got a rest (and it wasn’t through me tweeting, for a change) my partner was regularly checking Yelp for restaurant reviews, whilst I made the most of the FourSquare specials and booked accommodation for our next destination – at amazing online rates!
We are certainly not alone, throughout the Rugby World Cup it was interesting to see the constant flow of tweets from overseas visitors about Dunedin and so many people wandering the Octagon iPad’s in hand.
Recent US tourism research undertaken by Destination Analysts showed that 26.4% of leisure travellers are using mobile internet to access travel information. If, like me, you thought people were only using mobile internet during their travels, think again, of those using mobile internet, 80.5% were used it during thier trip, but a massive 65.8% used their mobile device to research their trip before departing!
Check-out some of the travellers were doing on their mobile device;
67.7% Finding restaurant information
64.7% Check the weather
56.0% Look at maps
45.1% Finding hotel information
36.1% Finding sightseeing or attraction information
9.4% Buy tickets (to an event, festival, museum etc.)
When you add to this that mobile internet access with surpass PC by 2015, the big question is…what does this mean? Here are my thoughts…
- If you don’t have a mobile site, you need one!
- If you have flash on your site, change it, it doesn’t show up on an iPad (which makes up 97% of tablet traffic) or the iPhone (which could make up to 13% of global smart phone market.)
- Ensure your booking engine and online payment solution is suitable for use on mobile devices, plus think about providing an option where the traveller doesn’t need to print a ticket or confirmation.
- Ensure that you are encouraging reviews on the major mobile based review sites.
- Register and regularly update your business profile on all geo-location and map services, likes Google Maps & FourSquare.
- Consider how easy it is for your clients to access your mobile site from your advertising mediums, perhaps think about QR codes.