Think about how you planned your last vacation, and we’re not talking about somewhere you had to go, such as a wedding or company retreat. If you were like most, you bounced back and forth between dreaming about and loosely planning your next getaway—zooming in on a destination and quickly bouncing around in search of inspiration only to zoom out and consider all the options yet again.
This quick spurt of research to answer an immediate need (usually turning to a search engine) has been coined “a micro-moment” by Google and is a huge opportunity for destination marketing organizations and the key to attracting and earning a savvy traveler’s consideration.
Micro-moments are critical touchpoints within today’s consumer journey, and when added together, they ultimately determine how that journey ends.
Seize the micro-moments
Capture attention quickly throughout the entire travel decision journey across devices and channels.
These micro-moments tend to fall into one of three categories, which correlate to each stage of the travel decision-making process: dreaming, planning, and booking.
- I-want-to-get-away moments
- Time-to-make-a-plan moments
- Let’s-book-it moments
In these times, we all pull out our phones and start Googling—and in the United States, more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. As you might expect, during these searches, 90 percent of smartphone users say they are not loyal to a specific brand when they begin looking for information online.
It’s during these micro-moments that consumers are more open to the influence of travel brands than ever before, and marketers able to display quick, useful content during these moments have a distinct advantage over competitors.
I Want to Get Away
At this stage, most consumers are dreaming about what their next vacation could look like. They begin to dig around with an open mind about where they will go and with whom they will book. This is a prime opportunity for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and travel brands to make their first impression and capitalize on the moments of inspiration.
Content to Inspire
Only 9 percent of users will stay on a mobile site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs. This means, travel brands should be producing snackable, educational content—not giving the hard sell. In fact, when a brand or DMO helps potential tourists easily find answer to their questions, 69 percent are more likely to make a purchase from that brand going forward.
Pictures and video play a big role when people are dreaming about a vacation. In fact, 64 percent of people who watch travel-related videos do so when thinking about taking a trip, and two-thirds of watch time happen on smartphones—with watch time growing on mobile devices by over 65 percent, year over year. That said, the most popular and engaging type of travel content is blogs/vlogs from individual creators, not travel brands. This presents an opportunity for DMOs and businesses that rely on guests from out of town to create useful, visual content that speaks to the needs of your audience in engaging formats.
Time to Make a Plan
According to Google research, 67 percent of travelers are more likely to book with a travel brand that provides relevant information for the destinations the travelers are interested in. With that in mind, and knowing 70 percent of travelers with smartphones have done travel research on their phone—successful travel brands create a great deal of useful search-optimized content built for the mobile experience first.
Content to Inform
Create a strategy that regularly writes content that answers specific questions travelers are typing into search engines and aggregators. Find and provide answer to questions about your location in Google Knowledge Graph, Google Trends, Quora, Reddit, and more. For example, if your research finds that many people are searching for “when is the best time to visit [your location]”—engage those travelers by creating and promoting graphically heavy content entitled: “Best Times to Visit [your location].”
Again, mobile first
Travelers are as likely to shop for flights and travel arrangements on their smartphones as they are to shop for music this way. In fact, over 33 percent of travelers with smartphones agree that when researching and planning a vacation, they’ve discovered a new travel company because of the information provided in the moment of need. With this in mind, DMOs and travel brands must emphasize mobile-first content creation that serves as a resource to travelers as they begin to make specific plans at a destination.
Let’s Book It
OK, the research is complete. Now it’s time to make arrangements and book flights, hotels, rental cars, reservations, tee times, appointments, and more. With over 90 percent of leisure travelers reporting shifting off mobile and onto a desktop (laptop) or to call a travel provider to book at some point during the booking process—the question moves from: How do I inspire and inform travelers as they research on their phones? To: How do we offer a straightforward booking functionality on desktop that seamlessly transfers to mobile?
Booking best practices
Only 23 percent of travelers report feeling confident that they can find all the information on their smartphone that they can on their desktop. Although more people are booking on smartphones every year (growing 2.4X year over year), anxiety is still certainly a factor when it comes to trusting the booking process on mobile. What’s more, nearly 90 percent of travelers with smartphones would switch to another site if yours doesn’t satisfy their needs.
To ensure you don’t lose any potential customers to competitors as these customers switch devices, it’s vital that the online experience on mobile match the caliber set forth on desktops.
Does your desktop or mobile booking experience:
- load quickly (ideally in less than four seconds)?
- have fewer than four steps to the entire process (anything more is considered cumbersome)?
- help the traveler fill in forms?
- offer assurance to potential tourists that they’re not missing out on any information because they’re using a smartphone?
- implement one-click functionality?
- provide alternatives for finishing the transaction (like click-to-call buttons)?
- implement geo-locating targeting to pinpoint closest places based on traveler’s location or submitted zipcode?
- offer a variety of languages and multiple currencies?
- have the ability to accept online promotional codes and gift certificates?