The Future of Travel Marketing: Be There in the Micro-Moments

Simon Fiquet, Antonio Mota / October 2015

Travel has never been easier. Today’s traveler can book a last-minute hotel room on the way to town, change a flight with a few taps of a button, or plan an entire holiday during a lunch break. These crucial travel “micro-moments” are happening all the time, and for your brand, they’re prime opportunities.

Ding. A young lawyer looks up from the case he’s reading and loads a video of his friends scuba diving in the Philippines. Immediately, he pulls out his phone and searches: “Best diving spots in the Philippines.”

A mom decides that her family of five needs a break from the haze in Singapore. While waiting for the kids’ school bus to arrive, she looks for relaxing weekend travel packages under $1,000.

A tired business traveler touches down in Hong Kong and wonders if there’s a way to skip the cab queue and get to the hotel more quickly. She hears the “all clear” from the flight attendant and immediately powers on her phone.

Mobile has changed human behavior profoundly. We no longer go online; we live online. Each of us now experiences hundreds of “micro-moments” throughout the day, and we habitually turn to our phones first, expecting to find answers right away. Then, based on the answers that pop up on our screens, we take immediate action—especially when it comes to travel.

In Asia, mobile is the primary computing platform;1 and for many, it’s a source of social sustenance. With an estimated 1 billion smartphone users in APAC today, and an expected 1.5 billion by the end of 2019,2 marketers need to take note of this seismic shift and join the movement (if they haven’t already). To capture this prime opportunity, brands need to be there, and be helpful, in order to gain customer loyalty along the way.

Today, APAC has an estimated 1 billion smartphone users and is projected to have 1.5 billion by the end of 2019

Identify micro-moments where your brand can connect

The first step in meeting consumers in their micro-moments is considering the many ways a traveler might come across your brand. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about their intent and mindset during their many travel micro-moments.

Consider where your customers’ and your brand’s goals intersect. Take, for example, the mom looking for a quick weekend getaway for her family. Once you identify the things she might be looking for in that micro-moment—inspiration (“beautiful beaches”), information (“packages for under $1,000”), or ideas (“family-friendly resorts”)—you can find ways to be present along her research path. Or, consider the business traveler who, after a long day of meetings, searches on her phone for dinner options near her hotel. This moment is a great opportunity for neighborhood eateries to be present, and perhaps even to share menus and special offers with their potential guest.

Offer relevant and useful content

Once you’ve mapped out your customers’ micro-moments, start figuring out what content will be most relevant and useful to them. Set your company up to satisfy customers’ needs, winning not only their business, but their hearts as well.

Imagine, the mom arrives at the holiday destination with her family in tow. Put your brand in the spotlight by providing her with the information she will need most: an itinerary recap, directions to the hotel in the local language, area maps, activities in or near the resort for the various family members, kid-friendly dining options, or pictures of nearby points of interest. These ideas can all help alter what their next purchase decision will be.

And let’s not forget the next generation of travelers. They may be only starting to seed their spending power today; but their consumer clout is already undeniable. By 2020, millennials will be responsible for half ($340B) of all travel spending in APAC.3 In developing countries like Indonesia, many millennials might have friends and family members who have never traveled overseas3, and will become influential sources of travel-related information and advice. Brands that can find ways to provide positive experiences through relevant, engaging, and useful content will win brand advocacy and get a leg up on the future of travel and e-commerce.

Brands that provide positive experiences through relevant, engaging, and useful content will win brand advocacy and get a leg up on the future of travel and e-commerce.

Provide consumers quick, frictionless experiences

When consumers are looking for information, they want it in the moment. That is, right in the moment. (If you recall the last search you made on your mobile, you’ll know it’s true.) So, make sure that your company’s marketing and operations are aligned to provide travelers with answers right when they need them.

When our weary business traveler wants to find out how to avoid standing in a cab queue, be there with quick, simple, and easy-to-find solutions: a hotel car, limo service, or even a shuttle bus service. Or better yet, provide a convenient e-solution that delights her and satisfies the need (Uber, anyone?).

Travelers today want to spend as little time as possible transacting. By continually examining your processes, you can weed out inefficiencies that add unnecessary time to the consumer journey, and perhaps even add in a few services that’ll go the extra mile to delight your guests.

The future of travel marketing is in the micro-moments

There’s no denying it: The online travel industry is booming in APAC, and there’s no end in sight. At $82B, online sales already represent 25% of Asia’s total travel market.4 And it's only going to keep growing: online sales are up 15% YoY with mobile driving most of that growth, while offline hovers at 5% YoY.4 The path to purchase will become increasingly complex as more touch points come online, giving more opportunities to capture consumers in their hundreds of daily micro-moments.

It's imperative that brands be there with relevant, useful content whenever these moments arise. In an era of infinite consumer choice, the brands that provide helpful information quickly (and cleverly) will establish the greatest brand equity and win customer love along the way.

The power of intent: YouTube is big for Thai brands