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  • 1. ›› ONLINE MARKETER How To Use Mobile Technology To Enhance Your Marketing “The Online Marketer” looks at the many critical issues and opportunities associated with using the World Wide Web for marketing hospitality, travel and tourism companies and organizations. In addition, a “Recommended Surfing” section provides information about particularly interesting and effective Web sites, which readers are encouraged to visit and experience for themselves. Readers may contact me with their questions, [DONALD E. BENDER] comments, and suggestions via e-mail at theonlinemarketer@yahoo.com. igital marketing is moving to with your customers? Here are ways to indicated that revenues from its mobile D the mobile Web. A little over a decade ago, the PC-based World Wide Web served as a catalyst to radically transform the conduct of hospitality, travel and tourism market- help you maximize your mobile market- ing performance. ENCOURAGE MOBILE RESERVATIONS Reservations made from mobile devices channel average approximately $1.4 mil- lion over a 100 day period. To benefit from this trend, make it easi- er, more convenient, and more rewarding for customers-on-the-go to make their ing. A similar transformation of the digital appear to be growing strongly, despite the reservations from their mobile devices. marketing ecosystem is now underway as present economic downturn. Marriott Streamline the process, minimize the steps substantial and increasingly large numbers recently reported that it earned no less required, and leverage mobile-optimized of travelers utilize a new generation of than $2 million in gross revenue from its Web site design, architecture and naviga- powerful, multifunctional smartphones to mobile-optimized Web site over a five tion to make the mobile reservations pro- conveniently access the Internet and Web. month period ending in December 2008. cess easy and intuitive for your customers. The potential to reach travelers via the The company also reported a strong trend Get the word out about mobile reserva- mobile channel is great. A recent study by toward increased mobile sales during the tions and, if desired, offer special incen- Juniper Research suggests that some 1.7 first month of this year. tives to encourage initial trial use. billion consumers will use the mobile Web Online sales made via mobile devices in just four years, by 2013. This growth in at Omni Hotels increased by an impres- CREATE BETTER users of the mobile Web means that mar- sive 85 percent over a recent six month TRAVEL EXPERIENCES keters must begin to invest more resources period. What is particularly significant Look for ways to leverage the capabilities of into developing mobile-optimized market- about Omni’s experience is that although smartphones and the mobile Web to make ing campaigns conversion rates at its PC-oriented Web the travel experience easier, less stressful The content, features, and services site average about 3.5 to 7 percent, con- and more enjoyable for your customers. available to travelers using the mobile versions via its WAP site are approximately For example, airlines are frequently on Internet and Web are numerous, conve- 25 percent. the leading edge when it comes to devel- nient, and often highly engaging. But how Hilton recently reported a 22 percent oping new mobile travel services. One of can you leverage these growing capabili- ROI via its own mobile site, an improve- the most recent and excellent mobile ser- ties to build your brand, increase online ment over its ROI from more traditional vice innovations offered by some airlines is sales, and sustain productive relationships print-based marketing initiatives. Hilton the mobile boarding pass. In this system, a 6 HSMAI MARKETING REVIEW • APRIL 2009
  • 2. unique barcode is sent to the passenger via SMS, MMS, or e-mail to an Internet- enabled mobile phone. The barcode, as well as plain text flight information, can then be displayed on the screen of the mobile phone. When boarding an aircraft, the bar- code on the passenger’s mobile phone screen is scanned; no paper documents are required. The process makes travel easier and more convenient for travelers. It also benefits the airlines that use it by eliminating the costs and procedures asso- ciated with printed boarding passes. This notion has already expanded to other organizations. German Rail, similar- ly, enables its passengers to purchase elec- tronic tickets via their mobile devices and to simply display a unique barcode (sent via MMS) to train conductors who read the barcode on the train via a wireless handheld device. Hotel companies are similarly seeking new and creative ways of making their guests’ experiences less time-consuming and less stressful by developing new, more convenient services including mobile check in. In addition to mobile check in, Hilton is considering the deployment of a suite of mobile services that would enable guests to use mobile devices to request room service and to make reservations for local attractions as well. CREATE MOBILE DOMAINS & URLS While short and memorable domain names are useful on the Web, they are essential on the mobile Web. Although device detection can help to determine that a user is browsing with a mobile phone, this process is not perfect. Using a unique mobile-optimized URL is the best names, the .mobi (“dot mobi”) top level mobile URL which is relevant and also technique at this time. domain provides another significant easy to remember. Two useful ways of creating a memo- option for mobile marketing. Launched in You may also want to devise a unique 85278674/JANET KIMBER/GETTY IMAGES rable mobile URL are: mobile sub- 2006, the “dot mobi” TLD is used only for URL for your mobile site. British Airways, domains and folders. Adding the word mobile-optimized sites. for example, created ba2go.com as a “mobile” or “m.” (“m dot”) to an existing An excellent short and memorable mobile URL. What makes this so good is Web address is a common practice. mobile URL using the .mobi TLD was that the URL is short (just 5 characters Examples of these techniques include: recently created by the Nevada Commis- before the .com), it is memorable (it mobile.aircanada.com and sion on Tourism. The URL for the site forms a short phrase reminiscent of a tex- m.cathaypacific.com. Adding a folder to which provides current ski information is ting shorthand), and it reinforces the the main URL can also be useful, as in unit- skinv.mobi. By combining the memorable British Airways brand (by incorporating ed.com/mobile. word “ski” with the state’s two-letter abbre- the well-recognized abbreviation for Beyond additions to existing domain viation, the Commission created a short (continues on page 10) APRIL 2009 • HSMAI MARKETING REVIEW 7
  • 3. ONLINE MARKETER Recommended Surfing SWISSÔTEL HOTELS & RESORTS ences online. The home page showcases the Top of the Rock’s swissotel.com key selling point—the dramatic views from its observation floors. Zürich-based Swissôtel Hotels Visitors can drag a scroll bar to pan impressive photographic & Resorts operates 23 deluxe images for an engaging 360-degree experience. A customization hotels and resorts in 15 coun- feature enables online visitors to change the colors of the Web tries on five continents. An page’s graphical elements, pick their favorite background music, additional five hotels are and view a selection of scrollable panoramic images taken at scheduled to open in the near different times of the day from daybreak to late night. These future. Swissôtel is owned by user-directed features deliver a more personalized experience, Fairmont Raffles Hotels helping to build greater viewer engagement. International of Toronto. The Web site provides information covering dining, shopping, The redesigned Swissôtel history, ticket sales, special promotions, and more. Social media Web site features a more stylish contemporary look that better marketing is also embraced by this Web site which encourages reflects the positioning of the company’s hotels and resorts. The viewers to post and share their own stories, photos, or videos about site’s grid-based design theme, rendered in shades of black, gray, their visits to the Top of the Rock via a YouTube link. Reflecting and white (with red accents) evokes the best modern Swiss graphic Rockefeller Center’s status as an international tourism attraction, design practices. Site content covers worldwide destinations, in- site content is available in six languages. depth hotel and resort information, meetings and events, special promotions, and online reservations. Special offers cycle across the THE VENETIAN MACAO home page and individual hotels are illustrated with large, high-qual- venetianmacao.com ity photographic images. Superb graphical maps display each The Venetian Macau Resort hotel’s geographic location and also provide links for viewing the Hotel and Casino is remarkable hotel via Google Earth, a convenient added-value feature. not only for its luxurious ambi- The site’s Flash-based world map and related 3D globe are par- ence, but also for its sheer size: ticularly well executed. Upon clicking a geographic region on the it is one of the largest buildings map, the adjacent 3D globe rotates to display the selected region, in the world and the largest in including hotel locations. These locations are programmed to reveal, Asia. Opened in 2007, the 40- on mouseover, the names of the hotels, contact information, photo- story luxury resort hotel com- graphic images, and links to the individual hotel’s Web pages. E- plex contains no fewer than brochures that can be viewed over the Web or downloaded for 3,000 all-suite guest rooms, 1.2- offline use are provided. Site content is presently offered in English million square feet of convention space, 350 retail stores, 30 restau- and German, with additional languages to be added in the future. rants, and a 15,000-seat sports arena. With 550,000 square feet of gaming space, its casino is the world’s largest. The Venetian Macau TOP OF THE ROCK is owned by the Las Vegas-based Las Vegas Sands Corporation. topoftherocknyc.com The resort’s Web site leverages Flash technology to produce a Located in Midtown vibrant and attention-grabbing online marketing venue. Manhattan, Rockefeller Center Photographic images and marketing messages cycle across the is one of New York City’s most pages, creating a sense of action and excitement while helping to popular tourist destinations. increase viewer awareness of key aspects of the Venetian Macau Its primary focus is the GE experience. The Web pages are rendered in a rich and glittering Building, a 70-story Art Deco combination of black and gold—a design theme that is well skyscraper located at 30 matched to the positioning of this unique resort and casino. Rockefeller Plaza and popular- Major topics linked from the home page cover accommoda- ly known as “30 Rock.” The tions, online reservations, activities, shopping, dining, meetings, building’s original rooftop entertainment, weddings, and transportation. The all-suite observation area was extensively renovated and rebranded as accommodations are well illustrated by photos and floor plans. the “Top of the Rock” before reopening in 2005. Site content is provided in four languages—Chinese, Japanese, Topoftherocknyc.com is a multifaceted Web site designed to pro- Korean, and English—to add greater marketing impact within mote visits to this world-class New York City attraction. It accom- regional and international markets. The Web site encourages plishes this task by supplying in-depth visitor information, offering bookmarking via Google, Yahoo, and del.icio.us and also makes direct ticket sales, and encouraging visitors to share their experi- it easy for viewers to sign up to receive RSS feeds. 8 HSMAI MARKETING REVIEW • APRIL 2009
  • 4. ONLINE MARKETER British Airways, “BA”). generation of mobile phones portend a Presently, location aware mobile services pro- Some organizations have created very positive future for advertising via the vide travelers with information covering local mobile sites optimized for the unique mobile channel. Instead of thinking in search, restaurants, hotels, taxis, shopping, characteristics of Apple’s iPhone. Typically terms of “advertising” per se, consider how and a variety of other useful information. these are arranged using a subdomain in you can build greater engagement with Some hotel companies are already ben- the form of “iphone.yourcompany.com.” your brand by delivering entertaining, use- efitting from location aware mobile ser- Because the mobile channel is growing ful and engaging “branded media experi- vices. In addition to reporting a significant in significance, it makes sense to register ences” to your mobile customers. increase of traffic to its mobile-optimized high-quality mobile domains for potential site, Omni Hotels recently reported that future use. Create and register variations PROMOTE WITH VIDEO some of its customers appear to be navi- of mobile domain names that are likely to Videos have become one of the most pop- gating to that mobile site from links sent be useful in the future. ular features on the mobile Web whether from location-based services. This trend is they are viewed via YouTube, Hulu, or likely to increase substantially over the INITIATE MOBILE ADVERTISING another channel. Today’s smartphones are next two years. Could advertising via mobile phones be video-friendly, making it easy for travelers Google Latitude is one of the most the next big thing in mobile marketing? It to search for and view digital videos show- recent additions to the roster of mobile loca- just might be when you consider that casing your hotel, attraction, or destina- tion aware services. Latitude combines opt-in there are now over 4 billion mobile tion in a powerful, visual manner. location awareness in a social media context phones worldwide, and that number is Because video is such a popular medi- that enables participants to share their pre- growing. um for the mobile channel, consider creat- sent locations with people they have select- Because the current generation of ing new digital videos or repurposing exist- ed. The system uses GPS satellites and cell smart mobile phones are convenient, func- ing videos for use on the mobile Web. phone towers to determine the position of tion-rich, and provide access to the Make your videos search-friendly so that participants. Internet, they are likely to become, in just travelers can easily find, view, and share Other location aware services of interest a few years, the world’s most significant them with others. to travelers include: Cab4me - helps travelers medium for advertising. Added benefits of To help maximize the impact of video locate cabs based on their location; WikiMe - advertising via the mobile channel include as a marketing medium, create your own uses geographic location to display entries being able to identify users and to track branded channel on YouTube. Wonderful from Wikipedia related to nearby points of and measure activity, location awareness, Copenhagen (visitcopenhagen.com), the interest; and, GasBag - uses location aware- rich media capabilities, and ubiquitous (or official tourism organization for the ness to help motorists locate gas stations and near ubiquitous) access to the Internet Danish capital city, did precisely that in to check gas prices. and Web. order to better promote the Danish capital The development of location aware Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, in a recent city as a tourism destination. mobile services is likely to focus on ways of interview on CNBC, stated that mobile ads Wonderful Copenhagen’s branded integrating many disparate elements should be worth more as they are more YouTube video channel is titled including mobile and local search, individ- targeted and should result in more conver- WonderfulCopenhagen.TV. It contains ual customer information, GPS, sions. Mobile search and display advertis- about a dozen branded videos as well as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ing could increase by as much as 85 per- selection of external videos produced by location-based advertising, user-generated cent by 2013, according to a study by the CNN, Lonely Planet and others. content including photos and traveler BIA Kelsey Group, increasing from $160 Wonderful Copenhagen’s videos are pro- reviews, social media concepts and much million in 2008 to over $3 billion. moted by a large, annotated graphical link more. Hospitality companies, transport The advanced technological capabilities located in the top half of the organiza- organizations, CVBs and tourism organiza- of today’s best smartphones are making it tion’s home page. tions are all likely to benefit from this possible to create more innovative advertis- A growing trend is for smartphones to rapidly evolving mobile technology. ing experiences. A recent mobile ad cam- contain video cameras. This means that it paign by clothing manufacturer Dockers will be easier than ever for travelers to cre- OPTIMIZE DESIGN utilized the built-in accelerometer of ate personal videos about their travel expe- The best way to reach consumers utiliz- Apple’s iPhone to create a motion-sensitive riences and to share them on video shar- ing the mobile Web is to create mobile- advertisement that more powerfully ing sites such as YouTube and at other optimized websites or to use mobile engages viewer with the brand. The adver- venues including social travel sites. apps. Although current smartphones fea- tisement was embedded within several ture full HTML browsers that can display popular iPhone apps including iGolf, LEVERAGE LOCATION AWARENESS a standard PC-optimized Web site, Web iBasketball, and iTV. The marketing potential of location aware sites that have been optimized for small- The growing capabilities of the current mobile services has only begun to be tapped. er display screens can present your 10 HSMAI MARKETING REVIEW • APRIL 2009
  • 5. ONLINE MARKETER brand in a more attractive manner, dis- ity of the mobile channel and changes and because you can use them to build play information better, enhance naviga- to how online reservations are handled your brand. tion, and make it easier for travelers to will likely change this situation in the Hotel Indigo developed a unique book reservations. near future. branded widget aimed at frequent busi- Although it is more compact, your Many airlines, including Continental, ness travelers. The widget provides infor- mobile site should present an appropri- Cathay Pacific, and Air Canada, put their mation and images about the company’s ate image of your brand in terms of mobile information under a “travel hotels, information covering local restau- essential visual identity elements: colors, tools” or “wireless tools” link from their rants, activities, hotel news, special logotype, and distinctive graphics. These home pages. The Nevada Commission offers, links to music podcasts, and elements need to be adapted, resized, or on Tourism advertises its mobile-opti- more. Building on the brand’s unique rescaled to create the best impression. mized sites by a large link (featuring a qualities, the widget also offers a selec- Consider also how design enhances mobile phone graphic) located at the tion of natural food recipes. the user experience. For example, larger center of its Web sites’s home page. Holiday Inn offers a simple reserva- navigational elements are easier to use Look for opportunities to enhance tions-oriented widget, while Disney offers and make mistakes less likely. Images, awareness of your mobile site in offline a Magic Kingdom Mini-Guide widget even if they are relatively compact, can marketing media as well. The Nevada that provides useful information about enliven your mobile site, enhance user Commission on Tourism recently utilized its popular theme park. interest, and showcase your rooms, facili- one of the oldest advertising mediums, Widgets and apps cover a broad range ties, or destination in ways that words roadside billboards, to promote traveler of travel-related functions and informa- never can. awareness of their new mobile sites and tion including hotels, airfares, maps, Some organizations have created features. Look for additional opportuni- local transit information, taxi cabs, mobile applications rather than mobile- ties to enhance awareness of your mobile weather, foreign language translation, tip optimized sites. If they are designed site via Web sites news and updates, calculation, currency exchange, dining, well, mobile apps can be superior to e-mail, blogs, social media sites, online, pet-friendly hotels, and much more. mobile Web sites in terms of appear- and print media. The potential of mobile apps is so ance. For example, although Facebook In addition to making travelers aware exciting because you can integrate them has an iPhone-optimized site, many feel of your mobile site, make sure they are with the phone’s built in functions. that the Facebook app, available for free aware of all of its features and know how Mobile phone manufacturers are provid- from the iStore, does a much better job to use them. Use your Web sites to pro- ing more user-friendly SDKs (Software of displaying information and photos. vide instructions, tutorials, demonstra- Development Kits) that can be used by Similarly, British Airways opted to create tions, and additional assistance. companies, organizations, ad agencies, an iPhone app, instead of a site, that Airlines such as Northwest (nwa.com) and others to create useful and engaging can be downloaded for free from the and British Airways (ba.com) use their new branded mobile apps. iTunes store. PC-oriented Web sites to provide Consider how you can offer greater Mobile sites and apps have the poten- detailed information about their mobile convenience, value, or entertainment to tial to be even more useful to travelers Web sites and services. Lufthansa pro- your customers through mobile widgets when they are used in conjunction with vides a long Web page that explains in and apps. Use widget and apps to create other native mobile phone applications detail all of the advantages, features, and better travel experiences for your cus- and functions. For example, a traveler information needed to use its mobile tomers and to build greater engagement can take photos with the smartphone’s boarding pass service now available in with your brand. digital camera, and then using the many European destinations. It includes appropriate downloaded app, send the a test feature enabling online visitors to CONCLUSION image to an online photo sharing or be certain that the mobile boarding pass Look for new and innovative ways to social media site. feature will work properly with their apply mobile technologies to create unique combination of phone, operating superior travel experiences for your cus- PROMOTE YOUR MOBILE SERVICES system, and display screen. tomers. Experiment and test-drive new Make certain that your customers are and potentially valuable mobile-based aware of your mobile Web site. And USE WIDGETS, GADGETS, AND APPS approaches. By testing and deploying make sure they know how to use its fea- Widgets, or “gadgets,” and apps are mobile marketing initiatives today, your tures. Hospitality Web sites have been among the most potentially valuable organization will be better prepared for slower to do this when compared with marketing tools for mobile travel mar- success within the increasingly mobile- the Web sites of travel organizations, keting. This is because they provide use- centric world of tomorrow. I such as airlines, train companies, and ful functions and services for travelers, local transit organizations. The popular- are user-requested (and non-intrusive), 12 HSMAI MARKETING REVIEW • APRIL 2009