By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

Turning pages in an atlas map is a thing of the past as consumers ping Google Maps and popular apps like Waze to determine the best routes to explore during the holidays and summer break. However, navigational tools aren’t the only aspects of modern vacations that have been transformed into being partially or solely mobile-centric. According to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer Connected Traveler report, 42 percent of travelers worldwide use smartphones to plan or book their trips. In addition, about half of these connected travelers use their mobile devices to book activities for their trip, 72 percent use them to look for restaurants while on vacation, and 34 percent want their accommodations to offer mobile check in.

These ever-increasing numbers showcase just how in-demand mobile offerings are for the travel & tourism industry and provide a major opportunity for hotels to engage consumers, develop brand loyalty and meet sales objectives.

There are several mobile marketing tactics companies can deploy to provide much sought-after information to consumers, such as hotel reviews, restaurant locations, as well as excursion details and prices. Hotels should consider the following options and determine which fits best for their potential marketing efforts, as not every solution is a one-size-fits-all.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can provide detailed information about the company, its service offerings and serve as a place for consumers to learn more and interact with the brand. A great example of a branded app that serves as a resource for travelers is the Four Seasons app. Through this innovative platform, customers can save specific preferences about what they like during their stay. For instance, guests can make room requests, order room service, customize their mattress topper and generally handle most tasks with a touch of a button instead of calling the front desk. In addition, it offers local city information and the ability to check out. This platform shows the power that a branded app can have on becoming an invaluable resource for travelers. Brands can also participate in a multi-branded app program if they do not want to invest in an individually-branded one. These apps can provide the same benefits to the company, but will allow the consumer to have one all-inclusive app as opposed to one for each brand they interact with.

Aggregator Apps

If a hotel chain does not have the resources or desire for a branded app, then it should at least ensure its information is available and consistently updated on aggregator apps. A few examples of these include Expedia and Priceline. Through these types of apps, travelers can gather flight and booking information all in one place. It is also important to remember consumers typically turn to aggregator apps to write reviews. Therefore, executives should regularly monitor the information posted about their hotel and be aware of customer feedback in order to make improvements and ensure their guests are happy.

Social Media

In today’s digital age, it is also necessary for brands to engage travelers via social media channels, especially since most users access these platforms via mobile. Many times, consumers will turn to social media as a resource to gain information in lieu of websites or when they want to interact directly with a brand. Successful brands like Hilton have capitalized on this approach by extending its Twitter-based @HiltonSuggests concierge service to anyone traveling, regardless of whether or not they are staying at a Hilton property. Travelers can ask about restaurants, activities, tours or other suggestions and a local expert will tweet back, which ultimately creates a memorable experience and loyal fan base for the brand.

SMS Short Codes

Texting is the most popular and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans sending a text at least once a day. Not only is texting highly ubiquitous, but it can be a fun and highly effective marketing tactic. SMS text programs involve a 5-6 digit phone number and a keyword that allows consumers to opt in to receive future messages. To do this, brands should offer some kind of incentive for customers to send the initial text message with the specific keyword to the designated short code, such as “RedBusTour” to 55555. Once the text is delivered, the user will receive a message inviting them to opt-in to receive a link to the microsite, which contains the incentive. Consider using this method to offer travelers a discount on a city attraction or special offers for nearby restaurants via desk displays at the front desk or in their rooms. Consumers are more likely to interact with a brand if they can gain a reward quickly and do not have to do more than send a text to redeem the offer.

Regardless of what mobile marketing tactics are implemented, it’s key to remember the hotel’s main website should be responsive and mobile-friendly in case customers search via their smartphone browsers first. If a brand has a specific app, providing an option for the visitor to download directly from the website can help generate awareness and drive more users, especially to those visitors that don’t realize the app exists.

In this new age of tourism, hotel chains have a real opportunity to reach travelers and visitors via their smartphones. Take some time this summer to explore what mobile marketing tactics will reach your target audience most effectively. By engaging in this new, crucial strategy, brands can improve their overall marketing and business goals, as well as increase sales and engagement with customers.