Mobile first is no longer a nice to have. This was the sentiment at day two of World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town.
The world is full of experts and specialists, many of whom hold very strong views on particular areas of the tourism business and how to attract customers. This is important because our customers change.
There are some very interesting propositions being put forward at the World Travel Market Africa event.
Native apps vs web apps is an interesting example. I happen to agree to a degree. You can make a slick native app that works really well with elements of the mobile. However, this does not appeal to all segments of the market. If you are making a really slick app for a hotel that works really well, providing their room key, breakfast orders and more is great for certain demographics, as it works really well with airlines. Excellent for regular business visitors, but how are you going to convince a one time visitor to your country to install a native app, where they have to go onto an app store to download it, to use it? You will need to have some very compelling features to convince them to install it.
My first question in regard to this is, what is your web site like? If your web site is the first port of call and it is not responsive (i.e. it dos not work well on a plethora of mobile devices, then I would suggest you start there while asking your customers what they would like to use. How well do you know your customer base? Do you know their age groups? Are they baby boomers who will eat in your boutique or luxury hotel and spend money on quality services, or millennials who will spend as little as possible on their stay in favor of partying and adventure tourism experiences? Which is the best type of customer for your property and what is their mobile expertise or even interest.
I live in a geek community that is frequently surprised when they find that their clients do not use much in the way of apps, including social media such as Twitter and Facebook; and location based services, like Waze or Google Maps. In many cases it doesn’t matter how intuitive a solution is, many baby boomers struggle with even the basics on Smartphones and just don’t get why they should bother.
I’m not saying don’t use apps, I’m am one of the original PDA and Smartphone evangelists. I’m just saying make sure it fits your target market, or you will have an immaculate app, that 5% of your customers love.
I do really like the awards at this event, particularly engagement, poverty reduction and wildlife conservation. These are obviously very important and good use of technology will assist those target markets and will resonate with tourists.
I’ll finish with two thoughts.
1. Pick your target market well when creating websites, apps or using social media. Understand the demographics of what sort of customers you want. Do you want profitable customers, short term, long term, big spenders, or perhaps people who care about your community and improving the lot of your staff.That doesn’t necessarily mean they are the type of customers you currently have.
2. Understand what their skill levels or interests are when it comes to mobile devices, Is their killer app voice and SMS, or are they tech savvy and keen to install apps? What things might they want to be able to do? It might be as basic as how do I get to your property, checking your hotel menu and booking a table, or it might be the ability to book tickets to tours, shows, or get deals at local retailers that you co-market with. What are the unique value propositions you can offer? Do you need a native app to achieve that and why would people install one if they are only likely to stay with you once (we are talking tourism right?).