Do Guests Search for Travel in Maps? Why They Will Now

Google maps flight search smallAlex Kremer on Tnooz highlighted the addition of flight prices to Google Maps earlier this week. To put it mildly, it’s a really big deal. A game-changer. For reals. I explain why in my Travel Tuesday post, “4 Reasons Why Google Metasearch in Maps Matters (Travel Tuesday)”.

One argument against this enhancement suggests people don’t search for travel on map services at all, so what makes this a big deal? Well, as I note in the post,

“I think it’s certainly true that people don’t search for flights on Google Maps. At least prior to today, why would they?

But once early adopters begin to gain the advantages metasearch has long promised, why wouldn’t savvy travelers search for flights on Google Maps? “

You can read the whole post here.

Interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going — as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World” here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes, including:

Advertisements

The Future of Travel Search and Mobile (Travel Tuesday)

Android smartphoneI posted my regular Travel Tuesday piece over on Thinks this week, highlighting remarkable comments made by Google’s UK head of travel about the where the growth in search volume is coming from. You can read all about it in this post The Future of Travel Search and Mobile.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that this shift will affect what you must do to reach customers going forward. If you want to learn more about how you can adapt to the changing realities of customer behavior, you can register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here.

Why Mobile Matters for Travel Marketers

App use on iphoneAnyone who’s read this blog (or the main blog), knows that I think mobile’s going to be huge. All signs point to that fact.

Not “forecast.” Or “prediction.” Or “guess.”

Fact.

Whether it’s Booking.com tripling its mobile business last year or (according to Business Travel News), Choice getting 10% of its bookings from mobile or La Quinta getting 23% of its traffic from mobile, mobile is beginning to represent some meaningful numbers.

And as the Business Travel News article linked above highlights, the growth these players shared “…does not take into account the growing volume of bookings from third-party mobile sites and apps, available not only from the legacy online travel agencies but the ever-expanding list of startups targeting the hotel sector.”

Guests and passengers and travelers in general use mobile because it helps them accomplish their goals. Both research and my experience suggest that consumers no longer care about “channels” or, for that matter, devices. They’ll use whatever’s handy — desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone — to meet their needs. In fact, Pew notes that a growing number of people use their mobile phone as their primary means of accessing the Internet, bypassing the desktop altogether (while some of Pew’s research in this area refers primarily to teens, A. it’s also true many older demographics use “cell-mostly” internet, and B. Gen Y and Millennial demographic cohorts represent your customers in just a few years).

Why do travelers use mobile so much?

Because it’s always at hand.

Literally.

So, the fact remains, your guests and passengers increasingly rely on mobile to research, shop, browse, and buy travel and related services. The question is: Are you helping them?

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter to get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of mobile, including:

What Are Your Customers Actually Buying?

Customer satisfactionWhy do airlines suck? That’s the question raised by the just-released Airline Quality Rating Report for 2012 [PDF link]. The report suggests that airlines increasingly get the operational details right. But, despite these successes, customer complaints also continue to grow.

Why?

Well, as NBC News notes,

“…rising customer dissatisfaction with the airlines goes beyond the basics of operational performance. While the AQR analyzes quantitative measures, there are obviously qualitative difference between the various carriers. After all, an airline can be on time, lose few bags and not bump a soul — and still provide a miserable flying experience thanks to cramped seats, lousy food and fees for everything beyond a seat belt and oxygen mask.

“The air transportation experience is suffering from issues that are not measured in the DOT [Department of Transportation] or AQR [Airline Quality Rating],” said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. For Leocha, other issues, such as proliferating fees, confusing code-share rules and policies that make it difficult for families to sit together without paying extra, add fuel to the flames of passenger frustration.”

This is top of mind for me right now, as I’m talking to a group of travel executives next week about customer experience and the high cost of ignoring value (a topic I’ve addressed before).

Travel is an unusual product, in that, for the most part, there’s no tangible good. Someone buying a cashmere sweater at Saks or Target, a book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or a mobile phone from Best Buy or Verizon takes home a physical object, some thing they can touch and live with again and again, day after day.

Travel doesn’t work that way. You get one shot to get it right. The experience is everything. One bad experience might mean a lost future sale — or worse if they write an online review trashing your product/service and let the rest of the world know exactly how bad you treated them (whether justified or not).

Marketers offering hotels, airlines, rental cars, cruise lines, and rail — or packaging the whole shebang — to their customers have to continually look for ways to improve the experience. This isn’t about going above and beyond customer expectations; for many components of the travel experience, just meeting the customer expectation would be a step in the right direction. Sad, but true. As AQR author Dean Headley notes in the NBC piece, “The sad part is that when I get back from a trip and people ask me how my flight was, the best I can say is it was uneventful.”

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. And, if you’ve got a minute, you might enjoy some past coverage of customer experience in marketing, including:

And, don’t forget, you can have me speak at your next event, too.

USTA: 39 Percent Don’t Want to Fly

Here’s a shocker: Flying sucks. And it’s impacting all sorts of travel decisions. According to a US News & World Report article that outlines results from a recent U.S. Travel Association survey:

“Lessening the hassles, said the U.S. Travel Association, could win back customers. “Our research shows that reducing hassle without compromising security will encourage more Americans to fly — as many as two to three additional trips a year — leading to an additional $85 billion in spending that would support 900,000 American jobs,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.”

The data is fairly compelling. Now, it’s clear that we don’t want to compromise security. At the same time, the challenging jobs market and stagnant economy could seriously benefit if it weren’t such a royal pain in the tuchus to travel. After all, the best hotel marketing in the world can only do so much if your customers aren’t willing to fly to your destination.