How To Connect With Travelers Searching for In-Destination Services
Per Google, over the past two years, there’s been a whopping 900 percent growth in searches for “near me tonight/today.” Consumers are using mobile devices to look for destination services and experiences within 5 miles of their current location.
In-destination search occurs when travelers want to find a specific service or experience during their trip. For example, most travelers are hungry and want to try local cuisine. When they are finished, they will look for unique things to do based on their personal interests.
And in-destination searches are quickly evolving to deliver a personalized experience to travelers. Virtual and augmented reality are ways to draw travelers into a potential experience and get them to want more. When people see the possibilities in action, they want to be part of the fun.
Okay, Now What is Augmented Reality?
A cousin to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) combines digital content with reality. Usually, this is accomplished by offering interactive apps on smartphones. While this can be done on wearable devices, which is how virtual reality is achieved, it is focused more on providing customized data that matter specifically to the user of the app.
With augmented reality, digital content is added to the user’s view of the world around them. Consider the popular game, Pokemon Go, that was played by kids of all ages. Players went to catch digital monsters which appear on the smartphone’s camera view. Marketers are taking this concept to the next level to reach out to travelers in motion.
It was just two years ago when a Travel Weekly article revealed AR didn’t yet play a significant role in the travel industry. Today savvy travel companies and marketers are focusing on this trend to attract their target audience and generate more leads. The goal is to be found when travelers are searching for destination services on-the-spot.
Where Does Artificial Intelligence Fit Into In-Destination Search?
Let’s take tech talk to the next level and consider the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in travel marketing. In the simplest terms, AI is a type of computer science that attempts to solve problems in the same way humans do.
With AI capabilities, an app becomes a one-of-a-kind space for each user. The vacation experience is completely transformed with the clever combination of in-destination search, AR, and AI. Think of a map that directs searchers to nearby restaurants, museums, and galleries. Consider people walking into a hotel and being directed to the lounge for happy hour.
While often referred to as a luxury travel industry, people also travel for business and other necessary reasons. From backpackers to corporate travelers, an interactive experience transforms the way people travel. Instead of wondering about what to do, they can get on-the-spot suggestions based on their behaviors and preferences. For example, after a long trip, business travelers would appreciate a prompt telling them where to grab the best cup of coffee.
How Does This All Come Together to Connect With Travelers?
With the tech lessons behind us, how does all of this come together to make meaningful connections with travelers? Customized experiences are the key to success. From site-specific SEO to in-destination search campaigns, every step of the consumer journey takes them to the end goal – making a purchase now.
The facts about impulsive travel spending speak for themselves. According to Google, over 60 percent of travelers would consider an impulse vacation based on a great flight or hotel deal. And 65 percent of hotel bookings were made on the same day as searching for them on a mobile device.
Travel companies want to be at the forefront of these local searches, providing what people want before they know they want it. Consumers are actively searching for something new, exciting, and immersive. Travel businesses just have to be there and give it to them – and become thought leaders by being one step ahead of what travelers want.
Get Travelers Into the Action
Travelers need to imagine themselves in the middle of the action. When they search for destination services and experiences, imagine getting a myriad of exciting possibilities. Take it to the next level with images, video, descriptions, tours, locations, and contact info. With AR in mind, consider all the possibilities:
- three-dimensional ads with greater detail to attract interest immediately
- personal stories from other travelers sharing their incredible experiences and where to find them;
- virtual tour of local hotels, restaurants, lounges, golf courses, and more
- options to share real-life experiences as they happen on a medium such as Snapchat and Facebook Live
- create sleek advertisements offering a virtual experience at the destination through the alluring experiences of actors, models, and influencers
- brand the business on social media with fun posts that make people want to be part of the conversation and have their own unique adventures to share and talk about
- local simulation of travelers doing what they love, making others want to join in the good times right now
- interactive experiences based on the likes and dislikes of the traveler, with AR superimposing virtual elements over real life experiences
Know the Tools of the Trade
Travel businesses first need to stake their claim in the areas they service. Wherever a location exists, tools of the trade should be used so searchers can find it. The majority of people look on Google Maps to find a destination. Making this feature part of an interactive travel experience is an excellent marketing tool to encourage consumers to visit the venue now.
Google My Business is an easy way to get a company location indexed by the search engine. Searchers discover the travel business, what it does, and where to find it with a couple of swipes or clicks. Showing a location, website, and contact information make a travel company more trustworthy and brands it.
Sharing is caring when it comes to travel opportunities. People love to learn from the happenings of others; post images and immersive experiences on social media. Offer incentives to get people to join the action, such as discounts or buy one, get one free opportunity.
Consumers Listen to Word of Mouth
News, reviews, and personal experiences are all part of what makes consumers take action. Consider some of the emotions that inspire someone to do something different – curious, adventurous, stressed, envious, desirous, and left out, to name just a few.
Encourage satisfied travelers to leave reviews at sites such as Google, Yext, and travel-related sharing sites such as TripAdvisor. Make sure to offer experiences people want to photograph and share, so other travelers find out about them.
A notable 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends, family members, and colleagues. In-destination search relies on elements such as favorable reviews, immersive videos, enticing imagery, and vivid descriptions to paint a picture of all types of travel opportunities.
Original and Creative Content Grabs Attention
Most travelers are looking to escape the predictability of their daily routines and do something different. Original and creative content grabs their attention. What makes a destination stand out from any other? Explore the culture, climate, and environment for inspiration.
Delve deeply into the destination to offer something beyond the typical tourist traps. Tap into the local vibe to find out what they eat, drink, do and talk about. Share journeys that are off the beaten track to attract greater interest. Travelers long to do something nobody else they know has done yet.
And get to know the most popular things people can’t wait to do. For example, TripAdvisor reported the top experiences people search for are historical and heritage tours, sunset cruises, private day tours, snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing as well as food and cooking excursions. Focus immersive marketing campaigns on these types of activities, showing people swim with the fishes or sink their teeth into regional cuisine.
Optimize Without Compromise
There are no shortcuts when it comes to travel SEO. Every step should be followed to ensure travelers find your compelling content. After all, they need to see and read it to want it! Optimization begins with keyword research to determine the long-tail and short-tail words people use to search for an in-destination experience within your travel niche.
Choose keywords based on relevancy, competition, location, and traffic. Infuse them naturally into your content, titles, metadata, and alt tags. Perform updated keyword research regularly to revamp your content and ensure it is relevant in today’s searches. Optimize without compromises to keep your content at the forefront of in-destination searches.
Beyond SEO, develop content with experiential marketing strategies in mind. Experiential marketing takes branding to the next level. Rather than remember something they like, consumers will remember your brand’s message. Interactions should make an impression that changes user behavior, guiding people into a new direction.
The Exciting Possibilities of In-Destination Search Marketing
Innovative technology, firsthand experiences, and local knowledge all add up to marketing genius. Think about a few of the exciting possibilities of in-destination search marketing and how it could change a traveler’s journey forever:
- Using virtual and augmented reality to get travelers to test-drive a vacation before booking it
- A hotel issuing a “Welcome” ping when guests arrive, announcing all the things they can do right away, such as dinner at the lobby restaurant
- AI empowered search and push search to provide personalized travel information dynamically before someone performs a physical search
- Travelers can choose a location and instantly get recommendations and discounts for hotels, air travel, restaurants, museums, galleries, lounges, and more
- Go beyond optimization with personalization on-the-go that pings app users when they walk by a venue a friend liked on social media
- Get upgrade information once they enter the hotel or airplane, offering a discount to do it immediately
- Travel businesses getting together to offer split and group discounts for travelers who book a particular hotel and airflight
- As people exit the airport, pings with information and images of local hotels and attractions to visit during the stay
- Bring storytelling to life through shared experiences, stories, images, and video to making an emotional connection with travelers
- Cater to intent, such as banner ads for hotels with availabilities in the area after the announcement of a delayed flight
- Large travel corporations partnering with YouTube storytellers to create real-life video and destination tours that resonate with the target audience of travelers
- Travel companies offering discounts and incentives to consumers who enjoyed the venue and what to share their travel logs along with recommendations
- An app that talks to travelers as they walk through trafficked areas of a city, telling them where all the hotspots are located along the way
Over three-quarters of leisure travelers decide on recreational activities after they arrive at the destination. Maximizing in-destination search marketing strategies helps companies capitalize on these opportunities. The goal is to be on the scene with useful information about destination services when – or before – travelers need it.
Is all this discussion about technology, content, SEO, and experiential marketing making your head turn? Are you still unsure about in-destination search marketing and how to harness its power for your business? Let the travel content professionals at Galileo Tech Media guide you through the process.
Use our tactical and strategic expertise to develop these destination marketing services and techniques before your competitors. Discover the difference it makes to become interactive with consumers and deliver data beyond their expectations. Watch your marketing investment yield impressive returns as travelers continue to crave immersive experiences, adventure, and the idea of exploring new territories.