Across Europe, across the world mobile Internet access is eclipsing desktop and laptop usage. Mobile phones and tablets are becoming the most common way to use the Internet. Tourists armed with their mobiles are changing travel … fast! Business in Slovenia needs to be ahead of the trend. Incidentally, while this article is about tourism and mobile, it applies to just about any service industry.
2015 – more than any other year – has been the summer of the mobile wielding tourist.
Leave aside the multitude of apps from boarding passes to route maps to language courses and think about how your business’s website and social media serve the mobile tourist. Search “Top 20 Tourism Websites 2015” and you will see that the majority have three things in common; they are “responsive” which means that they display differently depending on the platform (desktop, tablet or mobile phone); they load quickly because speed is essential when you are mobile, particularly if you are paying daily rates on holiday; and they are information rich right on the homepage. How do tourism and other service industry websites in Slovenia compare?
I will leave that question dangling, although I tip my hat to VisitLjubljana.com for providing their mobile friendly, information rich website. Many, if not all, municipalities and tourism businesses could learn from them.
I will also commend Visit Ljubljana for their use of social media. I have been batting back and forth with them for over two years on Twitter and am always impressed with their engagement and positive attitude. More recently Union Hotels have been making progress in a mobile friendly environment.
“Oh, the cost …” is the most tiresome phrase and never an excuse not to try. Behind the scenes, a mobile friendly business will have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy even if they don’t call it that. Even the smallest business can gather information about how people use their website, Twitter engagement, Facebook page, and increasingly important Instagram. Remember your customer with mobile phone in hand constantly sending messages to their friends, uploading photos to social media, tweeting their happiness, and unhappiness, too. Be part of their conversation. Welcome them to town, to your hotel, to your restaurant. Being “mobile friendly” is being “people friendly”.
Build a community around your brand. If the cost is high for one tourism venue or municipality, join forces with others, reduce the cost and increase the impact. Social Media and Mobile Friendly are business strategies. Treat them like any other business strategy. Monitor, measure, report.
Create! You do not always need to have expensive videos when you can have 6 second “Vines” if they are clever and creative. You don’t need expensive photographers to post on Instagram.
I doubt that the day of the social recommendation website is over, but there is growing concern about the validity of some reviews. You will have seen the vicious and the glorified. You will have heard of people selling reviews. Sites like TripAdvisor are useful and you will want to have good reviews there, but if you build your own community, it will support you, be your advocate and be credible.
The tourists wielding their mobiles are changing the game.