Mobile becoming more essential to tourism marketers

While mobile marketing for tourism may still be in its infancy, a recent survey shows the demand for mobile information by travelers is on an uptick, with 38 percent of mobile device users reporting they have used their device to plan a trip – and 60 percent saying they have downloaded travel apps to their mobile devices. Although the main reason tourists travel with a mobile device is to “make calls,” the TripAdvisor survey of more than 1,000 mobile device users showed that many travelers used their device for a variety of trip-planning essentials. To almost no one’s surprise, lack of connectivity was cited as the number one frustration (cited by 35 percent of respondents) when attempting to use mobile devices while traveling.

These numbers should come as welcome news to smart tourism marketers – particularly those whose destinations covet strong mobile-savvy tourists and possess superior Wi-Fi connectivity. However, the vast majority of marketers have not yet caught on to mobile, which still only captures a small (but rising) portion of marketing budgets. In fact, according to eMarketer, total mobile advertising spending in the United States is projected to reach $1.1 billion in 2011 – up 48 percent over last year, and more than 6 in 10 North American marketers are projected to put a mobile strategy in place within the next year.

Still, among those tourists who do engage with their mobile devises for travel, most are likely to be searching for restaurants or shops once they arrive at their destination – or to comparison shop for airfares and hotel rates prior to travel, according to the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers. 

To reach this growing segment of travelers, tourism marketers would be wise to tap into mobile approaches that can capture a traveler with deals both at the outset of their planning AND to grab them when they arrive to help increase spending.  

Do you have a mobile strategy? Know of a cool mobile tourism promotion? Share with us.