Jernej Horvat founder and director of Honire d.o.o. a company dedicated to the development and offer of mobile services. In the area of mobile marketing Honire d.o.o. offers their partners the service Honire Mobile Gateway which they can use to independently and easily carry out mobile campaigns.
A mobile phone is nowadays the only medium accompanying us at every step. There are over 4 billion mobile users who spend an average of 14 hours a day with their mobile phone. These phones are not just the most commonly used medium; the users spend more time using them than they do all the other media combined.
Each year we notice a similar situation. Travel agencies and hotels spend a lot of money on introducing their offer to potential clients during larger holidays and in mass vacation season over printed media, TV ads and advertising on billboards. They do so without an overview of how many clients respond to each of the advertising forms and how profitable these campaigns really are. Similar is true for event organizers. Such activities occur periodically therefore marketing divisions could close and it would make no difference.
Yet there is a new medium, which will stir up these monotonous marketing and sales activities. If we glance abroad we can make sure this is true. The mobile phone, of course.
How to begin?
Let me first mention that the aim of this article is not to designate classic media as unfit or not appropriate to carry out marketing activities, yet to highlight the advantages of a mobile phone in comparison to other media, possible delivery options and a quick implementation of mobile phone marketing. It doesn’t matter if we are considering travel agencies, hotel chains or meetings organizers. From the point of view of a tourist, mobile phone use can be divided into three time periods:
– Before the start of the trip,
– During the trip,
– After the trip.
For each time period there are numerous ways to communicate over the mobile phone with the client. For the Slovenian market where mass use of mobile pages and applications is only emerging, most of the activities are carried out over SMS messages which require the information on the mobile phone number of the client. This data is invaluable as we will demonstrate later.
Gaining mobile phone numbers should no longer be an issue at least in the tourist industry. Most companies are able to get it in the phase of trip reservations, accommodation or purchasing tickets. Here we can make a preliminary selection and assess which numbers are worth collecting. For example, a hotel could collect only mobile phone numbers of domestic clients, since they are more likely to return.
Before the start of the trip
In the first phase of advertising the offer the mobile phone is used in the same way as all other media. The users can receive offers from travel agents, hotels or meeting organizers in SMS form. This is especially effective for meeting organizers, since the clients have already indicated their interest with their previous visits. The same is true for travel agencies and hotels. Therefore it is important for a company to build their own database of mobile numbers and not to collect them from third parties.
With SMS advertising the company can take advantage of the cost efficiency (1,000 messages will cost approximately 50 €) and the fact users tend to read each SMS message.
During the trip
A mobile phone is the only medium tourists carry at all times while travelling for leisure. Despite the use of notebooks or tablet PCs’ a mobile phone is the most commonly used while travelling. Once again, there are several options to communicate with the client.
Many hotel chains and airlines offer applications and city guides for countries their clients travel to on their websites. General information, maps, city sights descriptions and similar are a part of mobile tour guides. The users find useful information and are at the same time constantly exposed to the trademark of the company. A good example of this is the Chinese airline Cathay Pacific. With the help of mobile applications and a mobile page they offer the clients all the information on flights and also offer mobile guides to individual countries and cities.
A similar technique is used by the MGM Resorts International which offers their guests mobile applications and pages with information on events, nearby restaurants and other leisure activities. At the same time such a mobile application and page can represent a source of income for the provider since they can advertise local businesses.
After the trip
Tourism is mostly a service activity and customer satisfaction is of key importance for the success of the company, be it a travel agency, hotel or meetings organizer. The assessment or opinion of the costumer can easily and directly be acquired over the mobile phone. As a brief survey or a simple question over the mobile site the user has the opportunity to produce feedback. This way you can gather feedback from clients without using external opinion surveys, which can also be used to improve your offer.
The briefly introduced possibilities of using a mobile phone in tourism are just an indicator of options brought forth by the mobile phone. Marketing divisions will be forced to face this new and unknown media in marketing and sales sooner or later. At the same time it is important to make Slovenian tourism more competitive with foreign markets since there is no larger company in Slovenian tourism already using mobile activities.