The travel sector must be more aggressive on mobile which has fragmented the customer journey, Facebook told last week Phocuswright Europe conference in Amsterdam.
Nikhilesh Ponde, the social media giant’s head of global travel strategies, said while travel as a sector has adapted well to the digital age it faces challenges.
“Competition in the industry has increased as new players come in. That has raised the level of competition across the board.
“But the biggest challenge we face as marketers is travel is now mobile first. Mobile has already disrupted our industry.
“It had fragmented the customer journey so much it has made traditional desktop marketing playbooks obsolete.
“Mobile has also created so many opportunities for us. It has enabled travel companies to connect with people directly and serve customers in a personal way.
“And most importantly mobile has forced us as marketers to think how do we re-market, how do we reach people and how do we speak to them in personal and meaningful ways.”
Ponde said firms must engage in “peopled-based” marketing on the platforms where they spend most of their time.
“People spend more and more time on mobile devices today. Yet when we look at the media mix we do not see that awareness reflected in how people chose to reach their customers.”
Ponde claimed that while 25% of people’s time was spent on mobile in Europe the channel accounted for just 14% of marketing spend.
“That’s a huge gap. As marketers we need to rebalance our priorities more aggressively towards mobile.
“We need to understand people’s behaviour. It continues to change every day as mobile becomes more embedded in their daily lives.
“People engage with just a few apps on a daily basis. Most people spend 78% of time on mobile on just three apps usually in the social, video and messaging categories.”
Facebook says two billion messages are being sent between brands and people each month on its Messenger app and consumers are choosing brands that communicate in this way.
“People want businesses available to them on demand on apps that they commonly use. We as businesses must adopt open architecture to make our products available on these apps.”
Ponde said artificial intelligence and machine learning is enabling relevant personal interactions on these channels.
“You can reach customers at enormous scale on all these platforms. Our number one priority in travel is to partner with you and travel brands globally to drive business growth by reaching your customers directly.”
Ponde claimed a focus on mobile, personalisation and video would help brands to move beyond price when selling to customers.
“So many people shop on price and yet we as an industry have spent so much effort over the years differentiating our product.
“We know people are not usually looking for the cheapest option – we are living in a world where people value experiences over buying things.
“They do not want the cheapest hotel, they want the perfect hotel for their trip, and yet people end up shopping on price because current distribution channel cannot communicate the full value of what you have to offer.
“But video can do this beautifully. It’s an immersive way for you to differentiate your brand by communicating the full richness of your products and services.”