With an abundance of roaming data offers and Wi-Fi options becoming available across the world, today’s travellers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to find information, access services and communicate on the go, regardless of their location. At the same time, the increasing availability of innovative apps and advanced multimedia capabilities mean that mobile users are now demanding more while in transit. As a result, travel companies and their partners are entering a new era in which they must be prepared to use mobile to engage with consumers as never before.
From my recent work with customers in the travel sector, I’ve developed several insights on how mobile technologies are creating new opportunities to redefine travel. Here I would like to share four that I believe are beginning to have a profound impact on the travel experience.
According to the most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index Report, global mobile data traffic is forecast to grow an amazing ten-fold from 2014 to 2019.
As a result, greater and more detailed mobile subscriber data is available. The application of this big data is almost limitless and offers travel companies and their partners a wealth of new ways to better serve consumers.
For example, using programs such as Telefonica’s Smart Steps, airports can use anonymous mobile subscriber data to get a better picture of travellers’ shopping and dining patterns before they catch their flights. They can then use this data to send offers and messages to customers based on their pre-flight preferences.
Travel companies are also moving beyond big data to use what’s being termed “little data” - the segmentation of micro-customer segments based on locations, mobile preferences, purchase history, etc.
Little data can be used to enable special services for customers when they are nearby through the use of apps and location-based services.
For example, Syniverse has worked with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to enable little data to be used to allow guests to unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones once they have checked in through an app. This type of service has great potential in further personalizing the mobile experience and increasing loyalty.
Travel companies need to be aware that the wealth of both big and little data increases the need for a focus on privacy. Today, consumers face a growing vulnerability of having private information revealed or misused by outside parties.
For this reason, it’s critical for travel companies to understand their relationship with the customer – what we at Syniverse like to call the “creepy/cool factor.” Just as you may pull away when a casual acquaintance shares too much information about himself, a customer can withdraw if a company goes too far past a customer’s comfort level.
For this reason, it’s imperative for travel companies to use mobile context data wisely, by explicitly asking for opt-in for the use of any personal consumer data, however small.
New channels offered through apps and social media have converged with more traditional text messaging and email communications, to present an ever-expanding communication landscape. On top of this, today’s connected-consumers expect immediate interaction and aren’t shy about broadcasting negative experiences.
Consequently, travel companies must now have a responsive multi-channel mobile strategy to reach consumers how and when they want it. For example, when an airline has to communicate a flight delay, it must be ready to communicate this to each customer through an individual’s preferred channel - a phone call, text message, email, push notification, and even a social media post. What’s more, the airline should have an escalation strategy that includes a secondary channel should customers not respond.
These factors are what I believe are the most significant ways that mobile technologies can redefine the travel experience. As with the uptake of any new technology, while some travel companies are proving to be early adopters in seizing these new opportunities, others have yet to do so. However, if all companies don’t act soon, they may find their mobile-centric customers looking elsewhere for their travel bookings.