Imagine glorious sunsets over sandy Gulf beaches, Venetian structures dotting the Italian landscape, or a Broadway musical in the bustle of NYC. Every destination has much to offer its patrons. And in an age of mobility - and a desire to constantly be connected to the rest of the world - consumers want streaming access to information about any vacation spot they can dream. That's why one of the most important resources for the travel industry is data, according to Richard Stevenson, CEO of YUDU. "The closer a marketing message is to a customer's actual interests, the better the engagement and relationship the customer will have with the company," he says. That's why he believes that personalization is important for the travel industry, as it is for any competitive B2C industry. And being competitive, these days, means providing information and resources accessible on mobile devices.
"I have not yet seen a travel service provider who is not aggressively investing to better engage with its target customers by adding value pre-travel, during travel, and post travel," says Ken Herron, vice president of marketing for consumer brands at Tourico. While his experience in the travel industry began just three months ago, he has over 20 years of experience leveraging new technology to engage customers and drive revenue market shares. This gives him the ability to see how the travel industry engages its customers with, as he says, "a fresh set of eyes and no preconceived notions of the status quo."
As such, he believes that the travel industry must continue transitioning into mobile access. "If people are now spending the majority of their time on particular platforms and media channels, then it is incumbent upon brands in the travel industry to have an effective, on-message, and brand-relevant presence on each of those platforms," he says.
Lonely Planet, a travel publisher since 1973, began offering travel content as PDF chapters online before most people knew what an ebook was, according to Mark Germanchis, epublishing manager. The company was a launch partner with Apple when the first apps were available on the iPhone, simultaneously releasing audio phrasebook apps which were featured in Apple's advertising. "Our mission has always been to provide the very best information to travelers in whatever way they desire," Germanchis says. "To this end, we've made our trusted content available on most platforms as they emerge, whether it be through apps, ebooks, the mobile version of our website, etc."
Germanchis sums up the most current trends with digital publishing in the travel industry with one word: more. He's observed more travelers using the web, ebooks, and mobile apps. There have been more points relevant to consumers within the travel cycle - before, during, and after the journey -- and more new mobile devices allowing interaction from anywhere.
As the publisher of the Rick Steves series and Moon Travel Guides, the mission of Avalon Travel, according to vice president of marketing Donna Galassi, is content - curated, strategic, revised, and updated. Avalon was also part of Apple's iPhone launch, but later found ebooks to be a better digital publishing experience for the brand.
That said, the ebook platform is still not maximized to accommodate the travel industry. "Print travel guides do not easily translates to epub format because the content organization and presentation is complicated with maps, charts, photos, and cross-referencing," Galassi says. "At Avalon, ebooks are quality controlled in-house so that we can push the capabilities of epub files and give the ebook traveler the best experience the format can offer. However, at this point in epub development, we still think a print travel guide is better than an ebook."
Galassi also believes that the travel industry is not an exception to the need for digital representation of products and services. Consumer reliance on mobile devices requires it. "Travelers value their time as much as their money," she says. "Apps and ebooks that make their lives easier and help them share their experiences have a positive effect on the travel industry overall."
Additionally, as Stevenson points out, digital publishing gives travel companies the opportunity to better measure the success of their marketing campaigns. Herron agrees, citing that digital publishing provides more direct customer engagement resulting in real-time feedback for marketing, sales, customer service, product development, employer branding, and crisis communications.
So, the next time you begin dreaming of a relaxing getaway, consider exploring the digital publications that the travel industry has to offer. Faster access from anywhere may result in a better vacation experience overall.
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)