The Impact on In-Travel Experiences by GPS

Tony Gerstner
Account Supervisor

My wife and I recently celebrated a wedding anniversary by spending a week in New York City. We have two sons, and our typical trip planning consists of weeks of work and preparation beforehand. We approached our anniversary trip a little differently; we booked a hotel, flights, and made 2 dinner reservations, the rest of the trip, we decided to just “figure out.” We ended up loving every minute of the trip.

What made the idea of this type of trip easy to entertain was located in our pockets. Our mobile phones, and specifically, GPS. With all the applications that use GPS it was easy for us to get around, find places to eat, shop and tour. 

There are countless ways that GPS has changed travel in recent years. Applications that incorporate Google Maps in its core functions such as The Weather Channel, Uber, Yelp, and Facebook,  let visitors to a new destination use only their phone to map directions from an airport to a hotel, schedule a ride, ensure the weather is favorable, make a reservation at a restaurant, and share updates for the world to see throughout their journey. And there is so much more!

Consumers are more open to the idea of allowing deeper levels of access into their mobile device and data, to experience the benefits that sharing their location offers. An Ipsos study commissioned by Google just two years ago showed that 88% of consumers make local searches on smartphones, while 61% want mobile search results customized to their immediate location. As consumers continue realize the benefit of allowing that access, this number will only continue to grow.

For travel brands to begin to assess how they can take advantage of GPS or location based technology in their marketing efforts, first it must consider how their customers use smartphones while traveling:

·  Is it to get directions?

·  To look up an address or phone number?

·  Are they searching for restaurants, hotels, or other businesses?

·  How many make social media posts to share where they are with the world?

·  How many read reviews?

·  Do you have a larger percentage of coupon/discounts hunters?

A simple assessment will help a brand to begin to identify where it should focus its efforts. And, likely, consumers are doing all of the above, and more.

Some of the first steps in an assessment should include a review of all online business listings to insure information is accurate. Google claims that over one billion consumers use their Maps product. Maps now allow consumers to direct-dial a business, read reviews, see peak hours for a businesses and restaurants, and all of this on top of still providing an address and directions. Ensuring this information is listed and accurate is critical. To reinforce how important this is, during our New York trip, my wife and I utilized map applications to help identify restaurants for various meals, those restaurants that did not include a link to menu, or additional details through the applications, were automatically passed on.

More creative opportunities for travel brands can be based in an understanding of the traveler experience and anticipation of traveler needs. When a business is able to provide an immediate response to an issue or need, that moment can create a regular, and loyal, customer.

Consider the application Hotel Tonight, which is based entirely on location, and allows users to find real-time, short-notice hotel deals based on their current location. Or, Starwood’s mobile app which offers driving directions from airports to hotels in local languages, which is hugely beneficial to international travelers. These applications, based on GPS location, are giving consumers an added, intangible, benefit that will keep them coming back.

Brands must keep in mind that leveraging tactics using location based services can bring positive, standalone results, however these services should always be used as part of a omni-channel marketing plan. Having a complete understanding of privacy concerns and rights is critical. Mobile location lends itself to this level of access, but brands need to treat that accessibility to the customer with respect.

In the end, it's all about using location based technology to give travelers what they want, and when they want it. 

Li Brown