Villing & Company

How Travel and Tourism is Ahead of the Curve in Digital Marketing

Web 2.0 is so 2.0.

A little after Y2K, our agency was a finalist for the Indiana Department of Tourism advertising account. At the time, our state was heavily dependent on traditional marketing methods and we built our presentation around convincing state officials that the world wide web was the wave of the future for tourism marketing. I guess you could say we won the war, but lost the battle. The Tourism Office switched its entire marketing philosophy to a campaign that was almost exclusively Internet based and then hired an agency that specialized in digital media. Oh well. You win some. You lose some. Some just get rained out.

Compared with other consumer-focused industries, the travel and tourism industry was well ahead of the curve at the turn of the Millenium. Travelers embraced the Internet early on as a way to make and manage their plans.

Now it seems to be happening again. Today the technology tool of choice is the smartphone. Seems the number of bookings being make via mobile devices has taken off – from 20 million in 2008 to 200 million in 2010 – according to the EyeforTravel Report. And there’s no end in sight.

There’s a lesson here for all of us. Those in the travel and tourism industry better get on the train in a hurry or get left at the station. And those in other service industries would be wise to watch where travel is headed because their own field is probably close behind.

Of course, it’s not just about being able to let customers research and book their travel with their smartphone. The ultimate winners will be the brands that make the experience as convenient and pleasurable as possible. The possibilities are endless – whether they involve optimized mobile websites, nifty new apps, location-based services or other cool tools of the trade. Already you can translate a sign or piece of text with WordLens, use TripIt to keep track of your booking info and get video tutorials on behaving like a local from Howcast. There are even tools to help you weave your way on a wine tour or find the nearest public restroom facilities.

All aboard! This train is leaving the station.

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