Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience.
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Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience.

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In this document we will identify the target audience of a short-term apartment rental company (Spanish SME) called GetMeAnApartment (www.getmeanapartment.com), then we will describe the impact of key ...

In this document we will identify the target audience of a short-term apartment rental company (Spanish SME) called GetMeAnApartment (www.getmeanapartment.com), then we will describe the impact of key digital technologies in the customer online journey, in the vacation rental industry, the evolution of those technologies and future trends.

The company’s target customers are mainly young couples whose average age is 30-40, as well as businessmen.

A strong social media presence is an inalienable condition for the vacation rental industry: 52% of travellers use social media for summer vacation inspiration. Facebook is the traveller’s social network of choice, ahead of  TripAdvisor, Twitter and Pinterest. The interaction among travellers (comments on travel reviews and videos) plays an important role in the planning process of a trip: in 2012, 42% of stories shared to users' Facebook timelines were travel experiences.

Moreover, the website of vacation rental companies, apart from being easy to navigate and crawlable by search engines robots, has to be optimized for mobiles: Mobile devices represent needful gadgets for our target audience and have a great impact in travel searches since one out of every two queries in travel results in a purchase and 33% percent of mobile travel searchers want to complete the transaction within the day. A bad mobile experience can damage a company's brand. In the mid-long term mobile devices will substitute desktop ones and online communication will be more visual and interactive.

Instead of outdated SEO techniques it will be necessary to invest our budget in online advertising, Social Media and content marketing.

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    Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience. Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience. Document Transcript

    • Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience 1
    • Author: Francesco Garofano. All rights reserved. Title: Impact of Digital Technologies/Channels on Vacation Rental Target Audience. Word Count: 5.121 (Table of contents and References excluded). Dublin, 7th of July of 2013 2
    • Table of contents Executive Summary! 5 Chapter I: Research Methodology! 6 Chapter II: Target Audiences! 8 2.1: The firm! 9 2.2: Who are our customers?! 9 3 Marketing Personas! 9 Web usage! 11 2.3: What are their pain points?! 14 Payment systems! 14 Veracity of Online Information! 15 2.4: How can our products inspire and help our customers personally and professionally?! 15 Chapter III: Evolution of Digital Technologies relevant to the Target Audiences! 17 3.1: Key digital technologies for vacation rental industry! 18 3.2: The evolution of key technologies! 18 Mobile Devices! 18 Social Media! 21 Facebook! 25 TripAdvisor! 25 Twitter! 26 Pinterest! 26 Google Maps! 27 Chapter IV: Impact of Digital Technologies on Target Audiences! 29 4.1: Looking for travel inspiration: Social Media and Online Maps! 30 Facebook! 32 Online Maps! 33 3
    • 4.4: Importance of Mobile Devices in Travel Industry! 35 Chapter V: Digital Technologies and their Impact on Industry! 37 5.1: The importance of Online Advertising and the death of SEO! 38 5.2: The challenges of Facebook Edgerank! 39 5.3: Mobile optimized websites! 39 Chapter VI: Future Trends That will impact my Audience /Industry! 41 6.1: The power of Images! 42 6.2: The power of Social! 42 6.3: The power of Mobile devices! 42 6.4: The future face of search! 43 References & Appendices! 44 Images! 45 4
    • Executive Summary In this document we will identify the target audience of a short-term apartment rental company (Spanish SME) called GetMeAnApartment (www.getmeanapartment.com), then we will describe the impact of key digital technologies in the customer online journey, in the vacation rental industry, the evolution of those technologies and future trends. The company’s target customers are mainly young couples whose average age is 30-40, as well as businessmen. A strong social media presence is an inalienable condition for the vacation rental industry: 52% of travellers use social media for summer vacation inspiration1. Facebook is the traveller’s social network of choice, ahead of  TripAdvisor, Twitter and Pinterest2. The interaction among travellers (comments on travel reviews and videos) plays an important role in the planning process of a trip: in 2012, 42% of stories shared to users' Facebook timelines were travel experiences3. Moreover, the website of vacation rental companies, apart from being easy to navigate and crawlable by search engines robots, has to be optimized for mobiles: Mobile devices represent needful gadgets for our target audience and have a great impact in travel searches since one out of every two queries in travel results in a purchase and 33% percent of mobile travel searchers want to complete the transaction within the day4. A bad mobile experience can damage a company's brand. In the mid-long term mobile devices will substitute desktop ones and online communication will be more visual and interactive. Instead of outdated SEO techniques it will be necessary to invest our budget in online advertising, Social Media and content marketing. 5 1 Shea Bennett (2012). 2 Ibid. 3 VRMA (2013). 4 Sean O'Neill, 2012.
    • Chapter I: Research Methodology 6
    • For this assignment I used data from: • GetMeAnApartment reservation database; • GetMeAnApartment website statistics; • Internet research. Regarding the Internet research, I used Google as search engine and I took into account only the most relevant and trustworthy websites, excluding sources such as Wikipedia or poor relevant blogs/webpages. My search queries (made during the months of May and June 2013) were focused on the following key points: • How Internet, social media and new technologies can influence the purchase process of our target audience; • What are the most important online channels for the vacation rental industry; • What are the trends for the future for this industry. Regarding the GetMeAnApartment reservation database and website statistics, I used those data with the aim of: • Identify the target audience of the firm and create three marketing personas; • Better understand the search behaviour of the target audience; • Identify technology trends of the target audience. 7
    • Chapter II: Target Audiences 8
    • In this chapter we will describe the target audience of a vacation rental company. We will identify 3 Marketing Personas and analyze their pain points. 2.1: The firm The object of my research study is GetMeAnApartment (www.getmeanapartment.com), a Spanish short-term apartment rental company, which publicizes and, in some cases, manages apartments owned by third parties in different cities in Europe. 2.2: Who are our customers? 3 Marketing Personas According to the booking statistics of GetMeAnApartment, young families with children or relatives are the most important customers in terms of number of reservations and revenue generated, followed by groups of friends and businessmen. Our customers are 25-45 years old, mostly from Spain and Italy, looking for last minutes and special promotions. They are always connected and prefer to contact with the firm via email, phone (free numbers), online chat (in order of importance). Our Marketing Personas are: Miguel, Mario e Angela, Jonathan. 9
    • Miguel 25-35 years old Miguel comes from Spain, Italy, Netherlands (in order of importance) and he prefer to book an apartment instead of other type of accommodation, because he wants to share it with his friends and have a great time with them! Miguel prefers an apartment near the beach or city centre. He looks for last-minute offers or special promotions. Miguel comes from Spain, Italy, Netherlands (in order of importance) and he prefer to book an apartment instead of other type of accommodation, because he wants to share it with his friends and have a great time with them! Miguel prefers an apartment near the beach or city centre. He looks for last-minute offers or special promotions. Miguel is always connected and he wants to share its photos on Facebook, check Google Maps and Trip Advisor, so he needs WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. Miguel is always connected and he wants to share its photos on Facebook, check Google Maps and Trip Advisor, so he needs WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. Mario e Angela Young family (2-4 members) Mario e Angela come from Italy, France, Netherlands (in order of importance). They prefer to book an apartment instead of an hotel room because they want to cook at home for their children, a private bathroom and, sometimes, other amenities such a swimming pool, jacuzzi bathtub, private terrace. They look for an apartment near the beach or city centre, near supermarkets, with good public transport connections or private parking. Mario e Angela take advantage of last-minute offers or special promotions. Mario e Angela come from Italy, France, Netherlands (in order of importance). They prefer to book an apartment instead of an hotel room because they want to cook at home for their children, a private bathroom and, sometimes, other amenities such a swimming pool, jacuzzi bathtub, private terrace. They look for an apartment near the beach or city centre, near supermarkets, with good public transport connections or private parking. Mario e Angela take advantage of last-minute offers or special promotions. They want to share their photos on Facebook, check Google Maps and Trip Advisor, so they need WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. They want to share their photos on Facebook, check Google Maps and Trip Advisor, so they need WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. 10
    • Jonathan 35-45 years old Jonathan is a businessman. He comes from England or Spain. He prefers an apartment instead of an hotel because he books for long periods of time (weeks or months), so a flat is a more affordable and comfortable option. Jonathan prefers an apartment near supermarkets, with good public transport connections. He makes the reservation in advance in order to avoid lack of availability. Jonathan is a businessman. He comes from England or Spain. He prefers an apartment instead of an hotel because he books for long periods of time (weeks or months), so a flat is a more affordable and comfortable option. Jonathan prefers an apartment near supermarkets, with good public transport connections. He makes the reservation in advance in order to avoid lack of availability. He needs to stay connected with his colleagues and customers, so he needs WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. He needs to stay connected with his colleagues and customers, so he needs WiFi or Internet connection in the apartment. Web usage Using web analytics tools it is possible to discover where visits to our website come from and what kind of device our customers and potential ones are using to visit us. The top 10 locations of www.getmeanapartment.com (in order of number of visits) are: Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, United States, Switzerland, Ireland (see Image 2.1). 11
    • Image 2.1: GetMeAnApartment Locations Map. From June 2006 to June 2013. Google Analytics determines locations from a visitor’s IP addresses and where internet service providers assign those ranges. It is interesting to know that among the top 10 locations of the firm’s webpage, there are 3 Countries with the most important percentage of mobile usage in the world5 (see Image 2.2): • Italy: 97% • United Kingdom: 97% •United States: 94% Therefore, it is no wonder that 13.9% of the visits of www.getmeanapartment.com come from mobile and tablet devices. 71.1% of our mobile and tablet visitors prefer Apple products (49.7% iPad; 21.4% iPhone) (see Image 2.3). 12 5 Nielsen (2013).
    • Image 2.2: How many of us use a mobile phone? In this image we can see the usage of mobile devices in percentages divided by countries. 13
    • Image 2.3: GetMeAnApartment mobile and tablet users. From June 2006 to June 2013. In this image the percentage of mobile devices users and the type of mobile devices. 2.3: What are their pain points? Payment systems Online booking has become the norm, yet many travelers choose to book some of their travel offline, and give a variety of reasons for doing so. According to PhoCusWright's Consumer Travel Report Second Edition6, the top reason U.S. travelers give for booking offline is that they were seeking personal service. 14 6 HotelMarketing.com, (2010).
    • Moreover, booking offline could be the consequence of one of the most common pain points of the customers in travel industry: the payment system. Quoting Alex Mifsud7: “Users of traditional credit and debit cards in the travel industry can hit a number of niggling pain points: high charges levied on transactions; difficulties in reconciling large volumes of orders with those transactions; and problems triggering anti-fraud mechanisms at merchants”. It is no wonder if prepaid cards are becoming more and more popular: According to aggregate statistics from the most recent edition of the Federal Reserve System's payments study 8, in 2009 in the U.S., there were 6 billion prepaid card transactions, valued at more than $140 billion. Prepaid transactions are growing substantially faster than transactions made with debit and credit cards. Veracity of Online Information Other important factor that worries customers in vacation rental industry is the veracity of online information. Customers are concerned if the online information corresponds to reality. Above all, they are concerned if the photos of the apartment offered online describe the real conditions of the latter and if all the features indicated in its description list will be available and perfectly functioning once settled into the apartment. In that case, online reviews on Social Media platforms such as Facebook and TripAdvisor play a very important role for the customer that will take advantage to the previous experience of other travellers to take their decision. The review policy has to be perfectly transparent and the whole website trustworthy. Otherwise, the online reputation of the firm could be badly damaged9. 2.4: How can our products inspire and help our customers personally and professionally? According to a recent survey10, guests evaluate vacation rental professionals from some key attributes such as: 15 7 Tnooz (2011). 8 Wilshusen S, et al. (2012). 9 Maureen Farrell, (2011). 10 Amanda Drake, (2013).
    • • Services (daily maid service, concierge, dining); • Customer service; • Safety and security; • Activities, services for children; • Modern amenities (flat-screen TV, wireless Internet); • Transparency in the booking process; As we can see, Internet connection plays a very important role into the customer satisfaction. Guests who book with vacation rental professionals are more likely to do their research online, and more companies are offering the ability to book in real-time. 16
    • Chapter III: Evolution of Digital Technologies relevant to the Target Audiences 17
    • In this chapter we will talk about the key technologies that influence our target audience and how they evolved. 3.1: Key digital technologies for vacation rental industry Apart from mobile devices (image 2.3), Social Media Platforms represent other needful tool for our target audience. The Table 3.1 gathers the most important online tools used by vacation rental customers during their overall reservation process. Target Audience Purpose Key technologies that influence our target audience Looking for travel inspiration, planning a trip. Online Tools: Social Media (Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Pinterest), Google Maps; travel related blogs and videos. Looking for last minute offers, discounts. Online Tools: Search engines; Flight comparison and travel deals webpages. Use a clean and secure booking process. Online Tools: PayPal. Share the experience and communicate with friends. Online Tools: Social Media (Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Pinterest). Table 3.1: Vacation Rental Customers Online Journey. In this table Key technologies that influence our target audience. Source: Shea Bennett (2012). 3.2: The evolution of key technologies In the next paragraphs we will describe the evolution of the above mentioned key technologies. Mobile Devices In June 2007 Apple brought the smartphone to the general public with its iPhone; this little device rapidly became the object of desire of millions of people for its capacity to extend the desktop experience thus entirely changed the Digital Marketing landscape. Analyzing the evolution of the smartphone penetration in the U.S. we can better understand the impact of this device in the evolution of our customers online behaviour (see Image 3.1). 18
    • Image 3.1: Smartphone penetration in U.S. In this image the evolution of U.S. Smartphone market from 2008 to 2013. According to the Business Insider Intelligence research11, U.S. smartphone penetration stands at 58% of mobile subscribers aged 13 and above, adding 31 million smartphone subscribers in the past four quarters.  It is interesting to compare the above chart with the evolution of mobile and tablet visits of www.getmeanapartment.com from 2008 to 2013 (see Image 3.2). Image 3.2: GetMeAnApartment Mobile and Tablet visits. In this image the evolution of Mobile and tablets visits to GetMeAnApartment webpage from 2008 to 2013. We can easily understand this growing trend just looking at the evolution of iPhone from 2007 to 2012 (Image 3.3). 19 11 Alex Cocotas (2013).
    • Image 3.3: Evolution of iPhone. In this image how iPhone evolved from June 2007 to September 2012. According to Google Trends, iPhone is the smartphone that generates more interest among the consumers (Image 3.4). 20
    • Image 3.4: Interest over time of five smartphone brands. In this image the interest over time of iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Motorola, HTC, Nokia from 2004 to present. Mobile devices not only are the best way to use social media platforms, but also represent the most efficient tool to take photos. Quoting Mark Hodson (travel writer)12: “One of the many industries it has changed in the process is travel photography. As the quality of pictures taken on the iPhone improves, some travel professionals are ditching their expensive and bulky camera equipment and carrying only a smartphone. There is even a word for it: iPhoneography.” Mobile passes from just being the alternative to landlines to becoming a computer, GPS, radio and our lifeline to the Internet, and still be able to fit in our pocket! Social Media There is a close relationship between the technological evolution of mobiles and tablets devices and the evolution of Internet and Online Platforms, without fear of contradiction we can affirm that smartphones and social media are a perfect match (see image 3.5). 21 12 Mark Hodson (2013).
    • Image 3.5: Smartphones and Social Media. In this image the use of Social Media Platforms through smartphones. Facebook is the traveller’s social network of choice, with 29% using this platform for holiday inspiration, ahead of  TripAdvisor (14%), Twitter (6%) and Pinterest (4%)13.  In the next images (3.6-3.10) the Google Trends “interest over time” of the above mentioned social networks. 22 13 Shea Bennett, (2012).
    • Image 3.6: Interest over time of the terms “Facebook”, “TripAdvisor”, “Twitter”, “Pinterest”. In this chart the interest over time of the above mentioned Social Media Platforms from 2004 to present (Google Trends). Image 3.7: Interest over time of the term “Facebook”. In this chart Facebook interest over time from 2004 to present (Google Trends). 23
    • Image 3.8: Interest over time of the term “TripAdvisor”. In this chart TripAdvisor interest over time from 2004 to present (Google Trends). It is interesting to know that all the decrease peaks corresponds to the month of December. Image 3.9: Interest over time of the term “Twitter”. In this chart Twitter interest over time from 2004 to present (Google Trends). 24
    • Image 3.10: Interest over time of the term “Pinterest”. In this chart Pinterest interest over time from 2004 to present (Google Trends). Facebook In the Table 3.2 we will describe the evolution of Facebook from 2006 to present. Year Facebook facts August 2006-August 2011 •Facebook is open to everyone aged 13 and over, and with a valid email address. •Facebook launches iPad app. •Facebook partners with Skype to add video chat. August 2011-July 2012 •Facebook launches its new profile user interface: Facebook Timeline. July 2012-December 2012 •Facebook reaches 1 billion users. •Facebook acquires Instagram. December 2012-June 2013 •Facebook begins to roll Facebook Graph Search. •Facebook launches Facebook Home. •Facebook launches hashtags. •Instagram gives the opportunity to upload short videos. •Now it is possible to add images on Facebook comments. Table 3.2: Facebook facts. Source: Daniel Zeevi, (2013)14, Ingrid Lunden, (2013)15. TripAdvisor The second most important Social Media platforms for travellers is TripAdvisor. 25 14 Daniel Zeevi, (2013). 15 Ingrid Lunden, (2013).
    • The most important evolution of TripAdvisor has been the introduction of its metasearch service16, a new search functionality that will allow visitors to filter results not only by the overall rating by users, but also by whether. Twitter In the Table 3.3 we will describe the evolution of Twitter from 2006 to present. Year Twitter facts March 2006 •The first tweet is launched. July 2009 •Twitter earns spot in Collins English Dictionary as a noun and a verb. April 2010 •Twitter launches its advertising platform: Promoted Tweets. July 2010 • Twitter improves its search results which now shows people too. •Twitter starts offering personalized suggestions of users to follow with a feature called "Suggestions for You." August 2010 •Twitter launches the “Twitter” button that let readers easily share web content. September 2010 •Twitter adds new ways to embed multimedia into the stream. February 2011 •The protest in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak first and then the confirmation of terrorist Osama bin Laden's death transform Twitter into an enormous virtual megaphone. April 2011 •Twitter renews its homepage January 2013 •Twitter launches Vine, a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. This new feature will beat Instagram in june 2013. Table 3.3: Twitter facts. Source: B. A. Hernandez, (2011)17. Pinterest In the Table 3.4 we will describe the evolution of Pinterest from 2010 to present. 26 16 Kevin May, (2013). 17 B. A. Hernandez, (2011).
    • Year Pinterest Facts 2010 •Pinterest is launched January 2011 •Pinterest reaches 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors. March 2011 •Pinterest launches its iPhone app August 2011 •People no longer need to request or receive and invitation for the site October 2012 •Pinterest allows users to report or block others for negative or offensive activity. Table 3.4: Pinterest facts. Source: Timetoast, (2013)18. It is interesting to know that, according to comScore, the average Pinterest user spend 98 minutes per month on the site, compared to 2.5 hours on Tumblr, and 7 hours on Facebook19. Google Maps Google Maps is a needful and irreplaceable tool for the majority of travellers, it is unnecessary to explain why (see image 3.11). Image 3.11. “Save to Map” Google Maps feature. In this image the location map of one of the apartments offered by GetMeAnApartment. 27 18 Timetoast, (2013). 19 Josh Constine (2012).
    • Image 3.12: Interest over time of the term “Google Maps”. In this chart Google Maps interest over time from 2004 to present (Google Trends). It is interesting to know that, like TripAdvisor chart (image 3.8), almost the totality of the decrease peaks corresponds to the month of December. In the Table 3.5 the evolution of Google Maps from 2005 to present. Year Google Maps Facts February 2005 •Google Launches Google Maps. November 2008 •Google launches Maps for mobile with “My Location Technology” January 2009 •Street View now covers Italy, Spain, France, Japan and Australia March 2009 •Street View is launched in United Kingdom and Netherlands May 2013 •Google Maps is completely redesigned June 2013 •Google buys Waze. Table 3.5: Google Maps facts. Source: Google, (2005)20, Google (2007)21, Google (2009)22, Kenzo Fong Hing, (2009)23. 28 20 Google, (2005). 21 Google, (2007). 22 Google (2009). 23 Kenzo Fong Hing, (2009).
    • Chapter IV: Impact of Digital Technologies on Target Audiences 29
    • In this chapter we will analyze how our target audience use the key technologies described in the previous chapter in their online purchase process. 4.1: Looking for travel inspiration: Social Media and Online Maps As we saw in the Table 3.1, the online journey of our target audience is something more than the online reservation process. Social media are both the starting and ending point of our customers online journey: 52% of travellers use social media for summer vacation inspiration24. As we can see in the image 4.1, online reviews and user-generated content are being combined with social networking, increasing their influence on travel-buying decisions. The interaction among travelers (comments on travel reviews and videos) plays an important role in this phase. 30 24 Shea Bennett, (2012).
    • Image 4.1: Top online activities from Travelers. This image describes how travellers use Internet during their vacations. 31
    • Facebook Facebook is a great travel social network because works at two levels: 1) Feeds our somewhat narcissist needs that drives us to update our status with positive messages of our life, so we are very motivated to share images and videos of our holidays. In 2012, 42% of stories shared to users' Facebook timelines were travel experiences25 that means Facebook is a huge database of travel information (Image 4.2). 2) Allows us to virtually explore new places, know the opinion of our friends and interchange experience with them. Our friend become our personal and most trustworthy (and completely free) travel consultants. In fact, according to the 2013 Portrait of American TravelersSM study26 • 82% of travelers trust recommendations from friends and family; • 1 our of 3 travelers reference social media as a main source of travel ideas and inspiration. Image 4.2: Facebook and travels photos. In this image a screenshoot of a Fracebook Profile (Photo- Albums). Travels photos are predominant. 32 25 VRMA, (2013). 26 Ibid.
    • Online Maps Regarding the use of online maps, Google Maps is top web brand in the category, with 79 million unique U.S. visitors, followed by Mapquest (29.6 million) and Yahoo! Local (15.2 million)27. 4.2: Looking for offers and discounts In the second step of their online journey, our customers look for discounts: cheaper flights, last minute offers, special promotions, everything that allows them to save money and enjoy a great vacation during recession times. In this phase, the role of search engine is determinant: Google proved to be the greatest source of traffic for the U.S. travel industry with 30.41%. With 3%, Bing had the smallest share of travel searches, but the most significant increase with 69% 28. Once identified a suitable destination with an affordable flight price, it is time to find an accommodation. What about Valencia and the sunny Spain? Googling “beach apartments valencia spain” (Image 4.3) the 15% of the the above the fold space is represented by a Google Maps image clicking on which it opens a window with the location of the apartment. Moreover, it is also possible to check prices: in the dropdown menu pointed out with the red arrow it is possible to find a Google AdWords Ad (red arrow) and the owner webpage of the apartment (Image 4.4). 33 27 Nielsen, (2012). 28 Brafton, (2010).
    • Image 4.3: Googling “beach apartments valencia spain”. In this image we can se the importance of Google Maps in Google search results. Image 4.4: Google Maps and Google AdWords. The dropdown menu (red arrow) contains one Google AdWords ad and the link to the owner site. 34
    • 4.3: Booking process Once booked the flight, our customer will book the apartment with the best value for money: due to recession, travelers have adopted a back-to-basics mentality, seeking quality at the right price29. The reservation process has to be secure, perfectly clear and quick and with an affordable price: • 57% of online travel shoppers wait three seconds or less before abandoning the site30. • 43% of online shoppers abandon a booking because the final product price and/or fees are higher than they are willing to pay31. 4.4: Importance of Mobile Devices in Travel Industry Mobile takes travel on the go. A growing number of travelers now use mobile devices to plan and book trips and access location-specific contents. Mobile device have a great impact in travel searches32: • One out of every two queries in travel results in a purchase; • 33% percent of mobile travel searchers want to complete the transaction within the day. A study conducted by Ipsos OTX across over 5,000 US adult smartphone Internet users33, helps us to better understand the smartphone usage and search behaviour from this type of device: 35 29 Emarketer, (2010). 30 Travel Industry Wire, (2010). 31 Ibid. 32 Sean O'Neill, (2012). 33 Google (2011).
    • • 93% use their smartphone at home; • 31% look for travel information; • 53% make a purchase online; • 77% contact a business after looking for local information; • 44% purchase after looking for local information; • 69% use the smartphone to get more product information; • 48% use the smartphone to find and use offers and discounts; Apart from capturing photos/videos, checking email, viewing maps, and finding attractions/ activities on maps, top mobile hospitality-related activities while planning a trip are 34: 1. Looking up hotel address or directions (29%), 2. Researching things to do at the destination (23%),  3. Reading a hotel review (22%),  4. Comparing hotel prices and availability (21%),  5. Booking a hotel room (18%),  6. Receiving price alerts for hotels (18%). Mobile devices have conquered the hearts of travelers to the point that, according to an Intel Corporation survey 35, US vacationers feel anxious when traveling without their mobile computing device, angry when they cannot access power sources to charge these devices: • 44 percent of U.S. travelers admitted feeling anxious traveling without their mobile computing device. • 87 percent of young adults (18-29 years old) feel happier when traveling with their devices. • Losing these mobile computing devices when traveling as more stressful than losing their wedding ring (77 percent vs. 55 percent). 36 34 Shea Bennett, (2012). 35 Intel, (2012).
    • Chapter V: Digital Technologies and their Impact on Industry 37
    • In this chapter we will describe how Social Media, SEO and Mobile devices will impact on the evolution of vacation rental industry. 5.1: The importance of Online Advertising and the death of SEO According to Wordstream36, pay-per-click ads are slowly taking over search engine optimization and Google's search engine results. Quoting Larry Kim37: “The click-through rate of paid search advertisements on Google now outnumbers 'free' organic search result listings by nearly a 2:1 ratio for high commercial intent keyword searches conducted in the U.S.” Moreover, Jeff Haden adds38: “Google has also increased the on-screen real estate for paid ads for high commercial intent keywords. In some cases, between the top of the page and the right-hand side,  sponsored ads take up approximately 85% of "above the fold" pixels. As a result the top three sponsored ad listings generate for over 40% of clicks on those pages, and product listing ads 19%.” More problems for SEO specialists come from HTTPS encryption. Quoting Chris Horton39: “Let’s say I go onto Google and search “pink plastic watering can,” and your company, a purveyor of said cans, is displayed in the organic portion of my search engine results page (SERP). Before encryption, my computer’s browser would forward the full URL of the SERP page as the referrer header. Your website’s analytics could then parse out the URL to deduce that it came from an organic search that used the words “pink plastic watering can.” With encryption, your site would receive only the domain name of the search origin, in this case https://www.google.com. 38 36 Larry Kim, (2012). 37 Ibid. 38 Jeff Aden, (2012). 39 Chris Horton, (2013).
    • Encryption does not kill organic search outright, but rather the ability to track the results of organic search queries. For businesses and marketers, this is a big deal.” 5.2: The challenges of Facebook Edgerank Small and medium business are experimenting discouraging results using Facebook due to its recent Edgerank algorithm. Quoting Jeff Gibbard President of True Voice Media40: "I have an MBA but not an MFA (Master of Facebook Administration). The platform is just too damn complex at this point.  Between 3rd party apps getting penalized, trying to understand Edgerank, keeping up with Facebook’s newest advertising opportunity, and the undeniable frustration of reaching a small fraction of your audience, it’s time to stop the nonsense.  Furthermore, we all know why we’re on Facebook, to connect with friends…PERIOD." J.C. Kendall CEO of the Tekpersona Corporation is even more trenchant. According to J.C. Kendall Facebook is a waste of time because commercial intent almost never exists on Social Media41: “Facebook advertisements almost doubled those of Google in 2011. Facebook revenue from advertisements was barely one tenth that of Google....Commercial Intent does not exist on Social Media, because the overwhelming percentage of its users is not there for shopping. They are there for the purpose of conversation and interaction with others.” 5.3: Mobile optimized websites Nowadays, smartphones and tablets represent the most interesting challenge for those businesses interested in expanding their online presence. 39 40 Jeff Gibbard, (2013). 41 J.C. Kendall, (2012).
    • Lauren Indvik commented on Mashable the results of 2012 L2 study regarding mobile optimized websites42. Quoting Lauren: “Mobile sites lead to mobile purchases. This is a no-brainer: Shoppers are more likely to buy a product or service if your site is optimized for mobile. Three-fourths said they are more likely to return to a site in the future if the experience on mobile is good. If your site isn't optimized for mobile, shoppers will go elsewhere. The majority of participants in the survey said that if they can't find what they're looking for on your site, they'll sooner seek out a competitor's mobile-friendly site instead of switching to a PC to revisit yours. A bad mobile experience can damage a company's brand. A bad mobile experience can create bad feelings about your company. Nearly half of participants in the survey said they feel frustrated and annoyed when they happen across a site that's not mobile- friendly, and that it makes them feel like a company doesn't care about their business. More than half said a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company in the future.” 40 42 : Lauren Indvik, (2012).
    • Chapter VI: Future Trends That will impact my Audience /Industry 41
    • In this chapter we will try to predict the impact of the emerging technologies in the mid term for vacation rental industry and its customers. 6.1: The power of Images Human beings are both visual and social creatures so, by nature they use images to communicate and cultivate their relationships. Instagram and Vine set the bar high regarding online photo and video sharing. Moreover, Google with its glasses put the icing on the cake. The online content will be more visual and attractive; high definition images will play an important role in online communication, from Google AdWords (Image extension) to Social Media. 6.2: The power of Social Google knows very well the power of social: Google+ is the the key to access to almost every product of the Mountain View company. Even Google Maps is being social: last June Google acquired Israeli mapping service, Waze43 with the aim of improving users engagement and, last but not least, taking an important advantage to Facebook and Apple in the online maps field. In the future it will be more and more easy to share online our trip experiences with our friends thus, social media platforms and online photo sharing tools will influence more and more our potential customers. Social Media platforms will launch new features with the aim of increasing the engagement. Apart from the Like button will be introduced new call-to-action buttons such “Watch”, “Want”, “Read”. 6.3: The power of Mobile devices Mobile devices will take place of desktop ones; the word “fling” (place finger on screen and sweep it rapidly in the desired direction) will substitute the word “click”. Those websites with poor usability will be highly penalized. 42 43 Peter Cohan, (2013).
    • Moreover, Facebook will roll out Graph Search to mobile increasing greatly connectivity among mobile users44. Paying with our VISA directly from our mobile devices will be a common practice. Augmented reality apps for tourism will substitute tourist guides. 6.4: The future face of search Search will become increasingly semantic and graph-based. Quoting Barbara Starr45 : “Graph Search on consumed/verified/validated information, which is a core component of the Semantic Web, is now considered key for the future of search in both search and social engines”. 43 44 Francis Bea, (2013). 45 Barbara Starr (2013).
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    • 23: Kenzo Fong Hing, 2009. Street View cures the homesick blues. [online]. Available at: <http://google- latlong.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/street-view-cures-homesick-blues.html>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 24: Shea Bennett, 2012. Vacationing The Social Media Way [INFOGRAPHIC] . [online]. Available at: <http:// www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-vacationing_b26466>. [Accessed: May 2013]. 25: VRMA, 2013. Facebook Marketing for Tourism Organizations. [online]. Available at: <http://www.vrma.com/ blogpost/885761/164657/Facebook-Marketing-for-Tourism-Organizations>. [Accessed: May 2013]. 26: VRMA, 2013. Facebook Marketing for Tourism Organizations. [online]. Available at: <http://www.vrma.com/ blogpost/885761/164657/Facebook-Marketing-for-Tourism-Organizations>. [Accessed: May 2013]. 27: Nielsen, 2012. TOP U.S. ONLINE BRANDS AND TRAVEL WEBSITES. [online]. Available at: <http:// www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2012/april-2012-top-u-s-online-brands-and-travel-websites.html>. 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Available at: <http://www.tnooz.com/2012/08/09/news/nielsen-study-shows-travel-usage-trends-for-mobile- devices-infographic/>. [Accessed: May 2013]. 33: Google, 2011. The Mobile Movement. [online]. Available at: <http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/ the-mobile-movement.html>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 34: Shea Bennett, 2012. Vacationing The Social Media Way [INFOGRAPHIC] . [online]. Available at: <http:// www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-vacationing_b26466>. [Accessed: May 2013]. 35: Intel, 2012. Intel Survey Finds "Outlet Outrage" and "Peeping-Techs" Are New Travel Norms. [online]. Available at: <http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2012/06/20/intel-survey-finds-outlet- outrage-and-peeping-techs-are-new-travel-norms>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 36: Larry Kim, 2012. The War on 'Free' Clicks: Think Nobody Clicks on Google Ads? Think Again! [online]. Available at: <http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/07/17/google-advertising>. 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Available at: <http:// socialmediatoday.com/jc-kendall/1047376/facebook-waste-time-most-advertisers>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 42: Lauren Indvik, 2012. How Important Is a Mobile-Optimized Site for Your Business? [online]. Available at: <http://mashable.com/2012/10/10/mobile-site-small-business/>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 43: Peter Cohan, 2013. Four Reasons Google Bought Waze. [online]. Available at: <http://www.forbes.com/sites/ petercohan/2013/06/11/four-reasons-for-google-to-buy-waze/>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 44: Francis Bea, 2013. What does the future of Facebook look like? [online]. Available at: <http:// www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/what-the-future-facebook-will-look-like/>. [Accessed: June 2013]. 45: Barbara Starr, 2013. Semantic & Graph-Based Search: The Future Face Of Search. [online]. Available at: <http://searchengineland.com/semantic-graph-based-search-the-future-face-of-search-156461>. [Accessed: July 2013]. Images Image 2.1: GetMeAnApartment Locations Map. 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    • Image 2.3: Francesco Garofano (2013). GetMeAnApartment mobile and tablet users. Available at: GetMeAnApartment Google Analytics, June 2006- June 2013. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.1: Alex Cocotas, 2013. Smartphone penetration in U.S. CHART OF THE DAY: Smartphone Penetration Reaccelerates In The U.S. [online]. Available at: <http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-smartphone- penetration-2013-5>. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.2: GetMeAnApartment Mobile and Tablet visits. Available at: GetMeAnApartment Google Analytics, January 2008- January 2013. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.3: Kelly Q Design (2013). Evolution of iPhone. The Evolution of the iPhone. [online]. Available at: <http:// visual.ly/evolution-iphone-0>. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.4: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of five smartphone brands. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.5: Adam Morgan (2013). [Infographic] The Current State of Smartphones. [online]. Available at: <http:// www.searchenginejournal.com/infographic-the-current-state-of-smartphones/64810/>. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.6: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the terms “Facebook”, “TripAdvisor”, “Twitter”, “Pinterest”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.7: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the term “Facebook”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.8: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the term “TripAdvisor”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.9: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the term “Twitter”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.10: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the term “Pinterest”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 3.11. “Save to Map” Google Maps feature. [online]. Available at: <http://www.getmeanapartment.com/ apartment-in-valencia/marina-building-attic-ii-id471>. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 3.12: Francesco Garofano (2013). Interest over time of the term “Google Maps”. Google Trends chart. Date of search: 21st of June of 2013. Image 4.1: Top online activities from Travelers. [online]. Available at: <http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/ files/2012/07/online-travel-industry.jpeg>. [Accessed: May 2013]. Image 4.2: Francesco Garofano (2013). Facebook and travels photos. [online]. Available at: <http:// www.facebook.com/garofanofrancesco>. [Accessed: June 2013]. Image 4.3: Googling “beach apartments valencia spain”. Google Chrome, Incognito window. Search made on June 2013. Image 4.4: Google Maps and Google AdWords. Google Chrome, Incognito window. Search made on June 2013. 46