Google Travel Conference
by Scott Sussman
I recently had the opportunity to attend The Travel Forward Conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. A group of approximately 120 individuals from the travel industry were presented the latest thinking from Google on how emerging technology can be integrated into marketing plans for travel related companies.
Currently half of all domestic travel is booked online and that continues to be a growing trend. Moreover, research for travel continues to be a growing area with over a billion travel related searches a day. Also, 70% of all travel related searches are not for a specific brand, but the search begins generically, this presents a tremendous opportunity for those in the travel industry. Google is making search more relevant by making it easier to access with less movement. For instance it is not necessary to leave the search results page to get hotel or flight rates. It is a rollover and click away.
Mobile is where Google sees the biggest growth in the next few years. Mobile traffic grew by 400% last year and that trend will increase with nearly a million new smart phones sold each day. About 50% of the population now has a smartphone. Smartphones can’t be viewed as an extension of a computer website. It is its own device and should have its own site. Mobile is a local based marketing opportunity as most purchases from this device are made within 20 miles of the transaction.
Mobile commerce is in its infancy, but will explode over the next two years. The much discussed Google Wallet is in test and should roll-out over the next year. Using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology (a chip in your phone) consumers will be able to purchase items without having to access their credit card from their wallets. The consumer will “wave” their phone over a device at the merchant and the transaction will be complete. This technology will also be used for boarding passes at airports.
Location based marketing will also develop over the next few years as messaging will be delivered through Google Spot, which will know your exact location (down to the aisle in a f store) and deliver messaging to you, such as a coupon or offer from a competitor.
As organizations like Google invest in innovation, the manner in which travel and nearly every other category is sold will evolve and change how business is conducted.