Although analytics software provides valuable information about certain aspects of your online business, the truth is that numbers alone, mean very little. They’re just an indication of how many people you’re reaching. It’s important to understand that you’re in the business of trading attention. No matter what advertising channel you use, you’re convincing people to give you a few seconds or hopefully minutes of their time to view or listen to your offer. Thanks to social media channels and new technologies, you’re now able to market directly to consumers and your real data is in front of you. Not on a spreadsheet. Saving time and making the process more convenient is today’s consumers’ top priority.
New time-saving business models have been happening for many years. Blockbuster ignored Netflix when Netflix figured out a way to make movie rentals more convenient; and we know how that ended. Borders, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Tower Records, Radio Shack, Toys R Us, and pretty much every big box store ignored Amazon’s online frictionless process, and they too paid the price for it. What did Netflix and Amazon do? They figured out a way to save people’s time, to add convenience to our lives. Uber and Lyft are doing the same. Airbnb is doing the same. Steve Jobs and Apple did the same with the introduction of the first iPod (all your music in a little box) and the iPhone, the mobile device that virtually killed Blackberry.
All industries are increasingly focusing their energy and marketing efforts towards winning the online battle for Millennials and newer generations. This especially applies to the travel industry and its OTA shoppers. OTAs are for the travel industry what Amazon is for any big box retailer. Remember Marriott’s #itpaystobookdirect campaign, or Hilton’s “Stop Clicking Around” campaign. Both offering loyalty members discounts for booking directly.
Voice is the future and the time to start looking into it is now. If I told you 10 years ago that texting and messaging was going to take over voice calling, you’d think I’m crazy. Now mobile service providers charge you by data usage and they give you unlimited call time. We don’t even like getting phone calls anymore. In fact, we’re annoyed when people call us! “Don’t call me, text me and I’ll get back to you when it’s convenient for me”
Simply look at how much Amazon, Google and Apple are investing in their respective Smart voice devices. Whether it be Alexa, Google Home or Home Pod, smart speakers and voice search is the next “time saver” device for people. OTAs are already using voice to allow consumers to find best rates or book a hotel. It’s time to think of yourself as a media company with a wellness message.
Consider Google’s 2018 IO Duplex Demo. It was shown off during the keynote event, and even though the onstage demo was pre-recorded, seeing and hearing the concept in action floored the audience. In the first demo, a woman calls a hair salon, where another woman answers the phone; the two go back and forth for approximately a minute before they figure out a time that works for a hair appointment. In the second demo, also about a minute, a man calls a restaurant to book a reservation; the woman on the receiving end has a heavy accent and isn’t offering the best information, so the caller pivots to make a new request.
Leveraging more interactive technologies can will go a long way promoting your brand, distributing your message and facilitating the booking process. A bi-weekly podcast covering wellness, a daily news brief delivered by Amazon Alexa, a chatbot that can answer basic customers’ questions, or if you’re in the travel industry, an online travel assistant to personalize the guest’s itinerary, all are elements that will make reservations more personal and prevent guests from looking elsewhere for options.
Remember, if you do a meaningful job with your branding campaigns, and especially, providing value to your customers, your sales will just happen naturally.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)