The travel industry has, and is, undergoing a seismic shift – for better or for worse. While there will always be changes in popular destinations and brands, one phenomenon has single-handedly moved the very foundations of the industry: information technology and its impact on consumer behaviour.
Digital communication, the internet and the invention of the iPhone in 2007 have transformed consumers and ushered in a new dimension of shopping. Consumers are obsessed with everything mobile, forcing businesses to differentiate and find a niche or alter their business model. This has broken down barriers to entry and created a more competitive industry. Those who didn’t innovate, or adapt, have fallen by the wayside.
This evolution is clearly seen in the transition from bricks to clicks and is reflected in the increase in IT spend seen in our recent Innovation Report.
Innovation has spawned a multitude of devices to cater for an ever more demanding consumer: smartphones, phablets, Kindles, iPad minis, tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs and everything in between.
Use of a second screen is increasingly common but is it sequential or simultaneous; related or unrelated activity? A total of 43% of sequential activity is planning a trip, but as a category in itself is small in simultaneous activity; 47% start planning a trip on their smartphone and 45% continue on a PC. At what point and on what device do they buy?
The picture is complex. How people interact differs between device, time of day, demographic and gender and this impacts business decisions. In the fight to grab consumers’ online attention, designing for different devices will be one of the toughest areas travel will face.
How does all this new technology affect your business? Do you hold on until the next best thing is proven, or do you go with the tried and tested? Sexy products aren’t always the best. SMS, direct mail, email and printed advertisements all have their place. They’re known to work and don’t cost the earth.
A new multi-faceted, all-singing, all-dancing, CRM/social media, payment processor, lead-generator might cost the earth. With so many solutions on the market it can be bewildering choosing the right one – especially when consumer activity changes every six months.
Beware of innovation for innovation’s sake. There’s a strong argument for letting the big boys battle it out and using tried and tested methods until such a time that the new ideas become run-of-the-mill.
Take a look at mobile payments and near-field communication. What problem does it solve? Is paying with a card so difficult? Do you really need an app or will optimising your website suffice? Why should I download it? Will it make my life easier?
The future looks exciting with so much innovation, so many options and so many ways to interact. How your firm harnesses this will depend upon budgets, target markets and resources, but be prudent in adopting innovation for innovation’s sake.