Mobile Devices

January 18, 2013

Research by Marchex Indicates Potential Windfall for Travel Industry via Smartphones

The travel industry has a great opportunity for growth, according to research conducted by Marchex, Inc. Results showed that a growing number of customers book their travel with smartphones.

Companies that fail to accommodate this technology will not only be left behind, but will have missed the chance to lead their respective markets.

Research consisted of Marchex deploying sophisticated technology for parsing and analyzing key words from over 15,000 phone calls to companies taking travel reservations driven by online advertising.

This is typical of the work done by the Seattle-based company, which develops mobile ad campaigns for businesses. Its strategy is to provide customers with stronger leads than other advertising by delivering more prospects who are ready to buy, and fewer prospects who hang up or are less motivated.

Marchex has several solutions for generating stronger leads. The Digital Marketplace uses call-focused ads that can be deployed in different types of digital media. Other services include call analytics, research and call filtering where advertisers only pay for calls that perform.

The conclusions that Marchex’s research obtained show where growth opportunities lie for the travel industry:

Mobile users are stronger leads than desktop users due to their higher conversion rate. Once a prospect is on the phone, their desire to buy is more urgent. They also have reservations that need special attention and require talking to a customer service representative.  

All of these scenarios mean more interested prospects. Anyone who has been in sales and had to cold-call knows that category of prospects is the least likely to convert. Calling people you know nothing about means having to make hundreds of calls before finding someone who’s even thinking about a product or service, much less buying it.

When a system delivers inbound calls, it delivers better prospects who at least have some buying interest. The motivation is even greater when the mechanism is on a smartphone.

Anecdotally, the results from Marchex’s research should come as no surprise. How many times has someone used their smartphone to locate a restaurant when they’re going out to eat or the nearest gas station when the gauge is already below the empty line?

The ability of smartphones can be leveraged to deliver incoming calls to businesses happens for reasons similar to why Google has been so successful. Search engines can be used to research anything ranging from trivial searches like ‘who won the 1966 World Series?’ to finding a Thai restaurant that serves great chicken curry. Google’s management knows that a lot of users will look for things like baseball history that have little or no business value, but they also know a lot of searches will be done by people with a strong buying urge.

Marchex appears to have found a way to attract consumers with strong buying urges that bears some similarity to Google’s search engine model, just on a different medium. They also have done a lot of research and analysis to identify what appears to be a huge growth potential for the travel industry.

No one can always predict what can happen and reputable companies have been wrong before, but it’s hard to argue with Marchex’ conclusions.

If these conclusions turn out to be right, any company that ignores them would be at a huge disadvantage.

Edited by Braden Becker

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