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Travelocity exec: Travel takes on mobile-exclusive focus post-purchase

Executives from Travelocity, GPShopper and Research in Motion discussed how mobile is impacting how brands follow consumers across multiple screens during the “Putting Your Business In Control By Tracking Your Customer” panel. The session was moderated by Ashley Eckel, head of marketing at StarStar, New York.

“You can track almost anything in mobile, and it’s getting better each and everyday,” said Blake Clark, director of mobile at Travelocity, Southlake, TX.

“For us, it’s actually about trying to take a step back and understand where mobile fits in to the bigger picture of how someone ultimately purchases and experiences travel,” he said.

“I think a lot of times we assume that mobile is directly substitutionary for our desktop space, but we found out that wasn’t the case at all. We found that people shop across all of the different devices, but that specifically with mobile, once someone books – even if they shop on mobile and eventually came back and booked on a desktop site – that following booking, mobile is pretty much the exclusive way that consumers interact with Travelocity moving forward, [as a] post-purchase experience.”

More than bookings
Similar to other online travel agencies, Travelocity was early to the game in mobile and ecommerce.

The opportunity now is to leverage mobile in new ways to elevate the total travel experience.

According to Mr. Clark, the mobile-exclusive experiences come into play once a consumer has booked a travel experience. From there, consumers rely on their mobile devices to alter travel plans or check on the status of a flight.

To tap into that utility focus, Travelocity recently updated its mobile app for iOS 7, the company put in an AirDrop feature that lets consumers share itineraries and plans to friends and family,

The Travelocity executive also pinpointed post-purchase data as an area of investment for the brand going forward.

Location of course also plays an important role in driving last-minute hotel rooms, particularly for smartphone users.

Tablets on the other hand are slowly chipping into reservations that are being made several days in advance primarily from desktops.

However, tracking all of the different ways that consumers come to Travelocity is still a challenge for the company.

“The much thornier issue is the multi-device issue and there are a lot of solutions out there, but it’s still a tricky space,” Mr. Clark said.

“There is always demand for travel – we don’t do much to actually generate demand to go to Las Vegas, so the average person shopping goes to I think 30 different travel sites before they can make a purchase,” he said.

Playing nice?
Alex Muller, CEO of GPShopper, New York, also spoke on the panel about the role of mobile for retailers.

As marketers move on from solely viewing mobile for conversions, retailers have significantly upped their in-store presences in the past year.

The executive used Walmart as an example of a brand that is getting the in-store experience right.

As marketers move on from solely viewing mobile for conversions, retailers have significantly upped their in-store presences in the past year.

The retailer’s massive bricks-and-mortar footprint translates well to location-based marketing since the stores are big and stand alone.

Geo-conquesting, or the act of targeting a consumer via mobile when they are at a competitor, has picked up a significant amount of buzz in the past year, however Mr. Muller warned retailers that they need to be careful when using this tactic because of privacy concerns.

“Even though you can geo-fence whatever you want, what we counsel our clients is, ‘Only geo-fence yourself in all reality,’’ he said.

“I know it seems sexy to geo-fence a competitor, but if you do that you’re kind of breaking the customer’s trust. You’re breaking the explicit rights that they have with you because now they’re realizing that you’re being tracked when you don’t shop with them. So for us, it’s always about positive marketing and never going into negative marketing – if you stay in positive marketing territory, within your four walls, I think you’re solidifying a good relationship that you’re going to hold their private information private.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York