by Wesley Lynch

Tourism & the Digital Age

Digital tourism challenges conventions

Tourism & the Digital Age
Tourism & the Digital Age
There are be no doubt that the travel and tourism industry is more competitive than ever, and firms are quickly discovering that digital technology lies at the heart of the tourism experience.
According to the 2012 DMO Marketing Activities Study, a new research conducted by Destination Marketing Association International, destination management organizations (DMOs) are making “significant” investments in digital marketing, spending more than $39 million on website development over the last three years. It’s not surprising if one considers that 33% of travel/tourism sales in Europe occur online – roughly the same amount as that of the USA (30%). Hotels have also caught on to the trend, with roughly 60% of hotels supporting online sales.
Tourism and travel companies are integrating social media and applications into their overall marketing efforts in order to reach a global, connected market. This has many benefits over traditional online channels – most notably, cost-effectiveness and attraction for all groupings and demographics (including niche and mass markets, business and leisure travel, men and women and all age groups, etc).
There are a number of applications and pages that have enjoyed mainstream success by using social developers, including bookings pages such as Trumpchicago, photo and video galleries showcasing accommodation and tours, Youtube aggregation such as TourismFijiAustralia, competitions raising brand awareness, discussion threads, newsfeed subscriptions and more.
But the travel industry also has the option of other digital mediums that offer unique benefits over Websites, such as tablet applications. These apps – whether they are on iPad, Android, Windows or BlackBerry –offer tourism companies global distribution. And with the tablet market increasing daily, travel bookings on these devices are increasing.
iPad applications can benefit the industry by driving accommodation bookings through interactive user experiences, long before customers arrive at the venue. Sandal Suites, American Airlines and La Quinta Hotels have all used itunes to increase bookings. American Airlines have taken it one step further and introduced a free app that allows users to check in to their flights, obtain a mobile boarding pass, track frequent flyer miles, view maps of the terminal – and even play Sudoku while they wait.
Another interesting element is the introduction of digital brochures – a form of portable tablet, mobile, social or online app. If done well, using a professional development outfit, these apps turn humdrum real-world platforms such as magazines or booklets into interactive and entertaining media. National Geographic Traveller Magazine , for example, not only displays their photographs with the app, but includes videos, games and quizzes and daily editor’s picks – which can be shared with friends. Needless to say, the virality of the content as well as the convenience of gathering all travel data (including maps, photos, bookings, tickets and articles) is a huge drawcard for tourists.
Travel and tourism companies around the world, big and small, are on the brink of 24x7 communication with global markets. Low-cost mediums like tablet apps, social media and digital brochures offer them their best possible entry point to this digital marketing nirvana.
If you are in this industry, try broadening the digital marketing activity from your website to include social media and tablet apps. Do research into which Facebook and iPad applications your company can benefit from and try transforming the material you already have in print into interactive or online content.  And most importantly- use a development firm that has the experience and track record to help you take your company to the next level.
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Issue 61


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