Important travel research and key data is now released for 2015, which all points to the exponential growth of millennial travelers and mobile shoppers. Some of the key statistics reflect:
- Currently there is one device connected to the internet per person on earth. This number is projected to grow to 9 devices per person by 2020. Smartphones and tablets have already surpassed the number of PCs with 86% of millennials using a smartphone!
- On average people check their mobile device at least every six minutes with 79% of smartphone users utilizing their device to make purchase decisions with 50% of these users making a purchase decision within one-hour compared to one-month on desktops.
- Smartphones account for 53% of digital transactions across all U.S. sectors now. 32% of all travelers are now millennials and the fastest growing travel segment with 60% of them saying they would rather spend on experience over material possessions. As this market segment continues to grow so also is the amount guests are spending prior to arrival at their booked destination.
The fact is, the mobile marketing conversion funnel has arrived! Not only are millennials using their devices to shop and buy, but almost every businessperson is also connected, as well as an increasing number of older, over the age of 40, individuals.
Hotels and resorts may think they are connecting with these consumers through a variety of channels, including static email confirmations, online marketing, blogs or social media. However, frustrated travelers are left to arrange activities, transportation, excursions and more through traditional searches, typically booking their activities and excursions through third parties. In many cases, a hotel or resort receives a reservation and simply waits for the guest to arrive.
Most timeshare sales-and-marketing entities are finding real challenges in developing rapport and trust with their guests prior to arrival leading up to that crucial moment when the guest is invited to attend a sales presentation. Some properties send a post-stay follow-up email, but it is the exception instead of the rule, with actual post-stay cross-sell retargeting non-existent.
Upon arrival, in-house marketing agents are faced with the immediate need to quickly warm them up, inquire about the guests’ planned itinerary and determine what activity or promotional offer will appeal to them in order to book a presentation. As customers ascertain the path the agent is taking, typically they will become defensive. The walls begin to build, leaving the agent with an uphill battle.
A Software Solution
Clearly, there is a need for a 21st Century solution. Armed with this knowledge, one company, Freedom-Dynamics, determined to use their experience as a timeshare sales and marketing business development firm to create a cloud-based software solution that would put the timeshare marketer in the driver’s seat. The result of years of R&D and substantial investment is EngageTravel, an eConcierge Marketing Platform, which bridges these major marketing gaps. Engage Travel’s eConcierge Marketing Platform is designed to meet the demands of today’s mobile device shopper first and foremost, while providing dynamic tools for hospitality marketers to build trust, rapport and brand loyalty.
According to Ty Krehbiel, the company’s founder and software innovator, the cloud-based system incorporates three key modules for marketers to use to effectively market to guests throughout all stages of the “trip cycle”. These include a customized eCommerce mobile site for a single-site resort or for each property if there are multiple resorts involved. Next, is an email module that sends “trigger messages” based on preset events, and the third module manages concierge commissions and tracks productivity by individual or team..
Reaching Today’s Customer
We asked what makes the software appeal to today’s customer; how can the timeshare marketer be assured their prospects will ‘get it’? “The e-Commerce mobile site looks and feels ‘app like’ on any device, from the smallest of smartphones or tablets, to any PC,” says Krehbiel. “It meets customers’ expectations to have the features and ease-of-use to which they are accustomed. Marketers can also promote the “share factor” by embedding their social media sites throughout the trip cycle to generate social media referrals, ’shares‘ and ’likes‘.”
“EngageTravel’s eConcierge Marketing Platform has been created for marketing in the digital age, which is now,” he adds. “The platform provides all of the necessary tools to not only engage guests immediately after a reservation is received, but ultimately, it delivers in-house marketing staff with a guest’s planned schedule and much needed socio-graphic information, such as what the guest plans to do while on their vacation, making tour conversion simple and easy at check-in.”
Making The Guest Feel Welcome
Guests feel they are special and valued when resort staff contacts them prior to arrival. Marketers can take full advantage of the opportunity to build rapport by assisting with their activity planning, confirming purchases and planned times, answering questions they may have about the property or destination and then following up with them after their stay.”
Krehbiel makes a convincing argument that using this personal touch, combined with state-of-the-art mobile technology, leads guests to post positive Trip Advisor ratings and to sharing their experience through social media. As he puts it, the direct, highly personal contact “ultimately leads to increased brand loyalty, and a higher conversion rate to accept an invitation to a sales presentation and to purchase!”
The company charges a nominal fee for the initial database build of concierge employees and the individualized products for each property. Once built, the Freedom Dynamics receives a commission on products sold through the e-commerce site in addition to a small hosting fee. “Best of all,” says Krehbiel, “EngageTravel’s eConcierge Marketing Platform is licensed to clients at a fraction of the cost of developing software, redesigning their website or developing an app. It’s already been done for you!”
Krehbiel insists that ‘seeing is believing.’ “We know clients will be impressed when they visit www.engagetravel.net and see a demo to learn about our software capabilities and reporting functions. Once they’ve reviewed a demonstration, they will readily see the great opportunities they can have to engage with each guest for very little investment.”