The rise of Mobile, AI and Future-proof Tools: EyeforTravel Europe 2017 takeaways

‘Great ideation starts and ends with a customer

Gerrit Goedkoop (eDreams ODIGEO) as part of ‘Leveraging Technology and Data to Create an Unforgettable Customer Experience‘ at EyeforTravel Europe 2017 

 

Here are key things we learnt during last week’s EyeforTravel Europe 2017 conference:

 

EyeforTravel Europe 2017 TAKEAWAY 1: MOBILE IS BECOMING PREVALENT

There is obviously a huge shift to mobile. More people are using apps worldwide and more time is spent using them. There are approximately 2.2 million apps on the iOS store. And to think that apps didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

 

 

During Smartphones are the New Travel Agentsession, Paul Barnes (App Annie) stated that an average Brit has 5-7 travel apps on their phone. So having your app on their phone should really be seen as a privilege. A privilege and an opportunity to deepen the relationship with them. So don’t do bad things. Don’t drain battery life. Don’t send too many notifications. Booking.com and Airbnb Trips are some excellent examples of how to do mobile right.

 

We see this absolute shift in the way of engaging with customers.

The prevalence of mobile opens up so many opportunities. You can communicate with your consumers on the go to increase their engagement or drive sales. You can implement fancy AI chat boxes to make your customer service out of this world. You can exploit user generated data that float around social media and make your customers feel special. Or create apps for your employees to keep them in the know for all that’s happening around the company.

You could also learn from social, according to Joel Bravo (Travelzoo) – one of the speakers during ‘How to Create a Localisation Strategy that Sells your Product’ session, as it’s social that’s driving how consumers perceive apps. A simplicity of apps like Instagram, Pinterest or even Tinder define expectations of ‘generation swipe’.

 

Case Study from EyeforTravel Europe 2017:

Edwardian Hotels seems to be winning the game in the hotel sector. We were super impressed with their presentation kicking off ‘Using Conversational Commerce and AI to Engage, Sell and Drive Loyalty’ panel. Their mobile presence is truly impressive – a total of 22 apps (!) for employees (e.g. Hotel stats, MMS, etc.), and guests (e.g. mobile check-in with room selection, CRM apps, etc.).  

EyeforTravel Europe 2017

 

 

EyeforTravel Europe 2017 TAKEAWAY 2: AI – TECHNOLOGY WITH A HUMAN TOUCH

Artificial Intelligence is a great example of how to break into new markets using tech with a human touch. EyeforTravel taught us one thing: there is a massive opportunity for the travel industry to benefit from AI chat boxes and rise into this futuristic digital hassle-free experience. All without losing brand personality or reducing the number of staff. After all – AI is not meant to make workers redundant (or destroy humanity, as some predict). It is meant to increase productivity, ease work and help employees spend their time on higher priority tasks.

 

Once again, hats off to Edwardian Hotels for shaping the future of customer engagement technology in the travel sector. Their Virtual Host, Edward, responds to customer queries in seconds and is able to read complex messages and prioritise all issues raised by customers. It even has his own personality! Or rather, a personality of the guy who built it – Michael Mrini (Director of Information Technology at Edwardian Hotels), as he jokingly admitted during the panel discussion on AI & Conversational Commerce. Check out this great case study video to find out more about how Edwardian Hotels use AI to provide world-class customer service: 

 

EyeforTravel Europe 2017 TAKEAWAY 3: MOBILE IS BECOMING A BATTLEGROUND AND YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE IT: FUTURE-PROOF TOOLS AND CUSTOMER NEEDS SHOULD COME FIRST

 

Technology is gold, but it’s the understanding of customer needs and looking at the product and services from customers’ perspective that’s most important. At least according to Daniel Wishnia (GCH Hotel Group) and…well – pretty much the rest of the marketing world. During the ‘Mobile Engagement and Marketing in a Multichannel World’ panel session, he emphasised the importance of future-proof tools, while Anaal Patel (SparkCentral) claimed that many customers want to engage with brands at the same level as they engage with their friends; and messaging platforms are a great way to achieve that.

 

Bubbl’s geolocation technology take:

What have we learnt from EyeforTravel 2017 conference? There was a lot of talk about the importance of relevancy. And a lot about mobile engagement. We’ve seen that the need for relevant communication is clearly there. Travellers’ desire for brand’s content is too. The questions that popped up are: how can you take what you have today and add value on top of that? How can you really make use of your mobile presence and transpose the relationship with your guests into a mobile context?

Brands really need to find a way to bridge the gap between digital and physical, and we believe geolocation is one of the ways to make this happen.

The mobile presence and digital talk is crucial, but it all means nothing if you can’t engage with your guests in a relevant and contextual way. You really have to go back to a traditional way of interacting with your customers. Engaging with them right where they are. And right when they want and need it most. Think: localised engagement that merges the divide between the physical and the digital. Between the old and the new. This is why location-aware app notifications are one of the marketing tools that are being increasingly recognised in the travel sector, and something that can really make the travel brands move forward.

 

Whether you choose to use geolocation or other future-proof tools, one thing is sure:

 

‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll just be left behind

Glenn D. Fogel (Priceline Group) as part of Fireside Chat: The State of Travel

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