Apps Are The Next Big Vacation Booking Medium.
Saturday, 8th March 2014
Source : Jabeen Bhatti ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
People are becoming increasingly mobile and instead of sitting down with a travel agent, or browsing on their computers, they are using their smart phones to book their vacations while on the go.

One of Germany's leading social media tourism consultants said at ITB Berlin that tourists in Europe's largest tourism market are increasingly booking vacations using apps.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryHolger Ambroselli, CEO at Conceptual Branding International, said that 40% of Germans are using their smart phones to plan and book vacations, while the 42% of Germans who aren't already doing so say they plan to start booking on apps in the coming year.

"All information needs to be available on a personal app that delivers information about your location every day to potential tourists," Ambroselli told audience members at the eTravel World stage. "You don't want to abuse your customers with push information. But you should offer them a consistent stream of relevant information about previous and future vacation destinations."

Ambroselli said apps should contain profile information, such as name and country of origin, as well as the user's travel budget and current location. He also recommended that apps contain filters that "allow for the delivery of profile-oriented information."

Ambroselli also encouraged tourism operators to think of their websites and apps as more than just sales vehicles.
"Websites and apps aren't just a way to book a trip," he said. "They should also accompany the tourist along the journey."

To that end, Ambroselli said apps and websites should help tourists publicize the vacation experience to their friends and family using social networks.

"You should help the customer talk about his vacation experience," Ambroselli explained. "The goal is to give him the feeling that he has been surprised. The idea is to surprise the tourist in a positive way."

Ambroselli suggested that tour and destination operators nudge tourists towards "photogenic locations" so that they can post photos and, especially videos, to social networking sites like Facebook.

"Videos are an important part of the process of ‘taking part' in the vacation memory," he said.

The booking process starts when the user first opens the app on his or her phone, he added, and the final booking decision is heavily influenced by social media.

 "The final decision as to where to book is supported by what people see on social media," Ambroselli said. "The most important point is what friends have recommended. This tends to be the decisive part in the ‘customer journey.'"

He compared this to a ‘first kiss.'

"This vacationer makes a kiss when he or she books," Ambroselli said. "But then, like after a kiss, he has more expectations. At that point, it is in the tour organizer's hands to make the experience either better – memorable – or a failure."

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Jabeen Bhatti is a reporter and editor in Berlin, Germany. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she has spent most of her career in hard news and currently manages the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). She gets out of Berlin whenever she can, enjoying local nibbles everywhere and finding the perfect hotel room many times over.

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