Screens, Travelers, and Hotel Marketing in 2014
Since tablets came on the scene, we’ve talked about them as though they are smartphones, using the category of “mobile marketing” to address our strategies for non-PC devices. But it’s not enough to talk about mobile vs. desktop anymore; in fact, “three screens” is already becoming a common phrase. Desktop/laptop, tablets, and web-enabled mobile phones are each their own category of device and are used for overlapping purposes but in different ways.
Hoteliers must tailor strategies to meet travelers where ever they are in the planning and booking process and on whatever device they are using at any given time. App or mobile site? Standing in line at lunch or sitting on the couch at night? Planning or booking? These are all questions that must be asked in order to divine which piece of technology your guests may be using and how to deliver information to each of them.
I offer this personal example, which seems to reflect the average leisure traveler planning process these days. We currently have two laptops, one Android tablet, and two iPhones, and here’s how our last vacation shaped up across screens:
recommendation from friend > no screen
website research of hotels > morning > laptop
date change, check availability > mid-day waiting in line for lunch > iPhone
read a few reviews to be safe > evening > laptop
final suggestion to my spouse to take a look > evening > tablet
oops, room not available; review other room types > afternoon > iPhone
final booking > evening > laptop
(note: if I were booking on a tablet or phone, I’d be most comfortable doing it through an app. I don’t have any explanation for this but research supports that I’m not alone.)
post photos from hotel > iPhone x2 for each of us
research attractions during travel > tablet in room and iPhone in car
Hotel marketing across screens is complicated. You, as a hotelier, must understand your traveler and how they’re using screens in order to get the right information to them in the right format at the right time.
In my case, the hotel would need to have known that I’m booking a family vacation, so I have only little chunks of time to do this work (you know, because that’s the way life with children works). It will take several days to not only carve out the time to do the research but to decide what will work best for our vacation. I will use my laptop and tablet for research in the evening and my smartphone for research during the day, but I will ultimately book on my PC at night because that’s when I have the time to sit back and make decisions and commitments and, honestly, I’m tired of being on my phone by that point.
What’s really important in this example, however, is that I’m not using my tablet like my phone at all. I’m using the tablet in the evening when I’m stationary, except when I’m traveling. It’s time we must break away and consider how they function differently in order to market appropriately.
Head back for my next post to get some statistics on how travelers are using the three screens, so you can decide how to best reach your guests in 2014.
Photo Source: Flickr