Exclusive ITB Feature:
People are increasingly booking their travels online and as well as using tablets they are also using their mobile phones, but far from just being used for booking a trip, mobile technology is also making travel documents obsolete and allowing people to share their trips instantly with friends and family.
"85% of travelers have made the shift and they're using mobiles as their travel companion," said Lisa Israelovitch, CEO of mobile application firm UMapped, speaking to delegates during a session on mobile technology at ITB Berlin.
"What you give your customers is not just useful before the trip, but also during the trip and after the trip," she added.
Israelovitch said it was important for companies to look towards going mobile creating interactive content for their customers to use throughout their trips and even afterwards, not forgetting that it should also all be available on the app offline, to ensure people can access the tool whether they have the internet or not.
"Send them a hotel reservation and tour, make that trip planning document useful and interactive," she said. "Get on the path to mobile, your customers need it."
But as well as using mobile technology to interact directly, the data from what travelers are doing from booking their trip to reviewing it afterwards can be used in marketing and business strategy, according to Katrina Pruitt-Andrews from travel intelligence firm, Insight.
"We need to find out more about the people who are using the internet to travel, all of these elements contribute to the characteristic of the traveler and when you have that information you can be more effective in terms of marketing to them," she said.
There are 10 basic travel personas, that included the young free spirits, dream trippers and frugal boomers, she said, all with different attitudes to mobile technology, with the younger travelers more likely to use their smartphones.
The characteristics of a traveler can be used to predict how long it will take from when they start looking for a destination up to when they actually book.
"You have to understand who your travelers and where they can go," said Pruitt-Andrews.
Ways that you can use this data is through targeted marketing to a particular "travel persona". The tool allows you to target visitors to get more people looking to your destination, she added.
You can also see where travelers are coming from and therefore what they will be looking for – a traveler from London has different interests generally than someone looking from Barcelona.
If you are targeting a specific need period you can plan your marketing campaign on how long their search period is, said Pruitt-Andrews.
"There's an overflow of data and so much information, people don't know what to do with it," she added. "To monetize social media you need a strategy in place. When people are sharing on social media, all of this is generating data and we need to turn that into valuable information."This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com