Global Tourism Survey: Visitors Expect Better Digital & Mobile Experience

Are m-tourism services and apps truly meeting visitors’ expectations?

Based on its reference global benchmarking survey TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index, TCI Research reports that destinations still have to improve m-tourism experience towards their visitors, pointing out that great technology is useless if it does not provide them the right content on the right time.

Image source: The Drum
Image source: The Drum

With a Competitive Index hardly exceeding 100 (meaning just “Acceptable” on the TRAVELSAT Scale), digital hospitality today is not rated higher than the “Staff efficiency in Tourist Info Centers”.

However the survey highlights significant differences according to the destinations, markets and travel segments:

  • North American and Pacific regions tend to offer a better experience than European destinations
  • Digital services and mobile apps are powerful drivers of competitiveness amongst BRIC markets.
  • Tourists coming for special motivations (cultural events, golf, shopping, parks…) tend to be more satisfied with digital hospitality experience during their stay.
  • Apps and digital services quality should be improved for short stays in priority.
  • Web influencers are happier than average with digital services…providing they have more abilities to find their way in the jungle of apps available!

Commenting on the results, TCI Research CEO Olivier Henry-Biabaud adds: “Competitive destinations are those able to find the right balance between digital and human-based hospitality services, each completing the other in a consistent way all along the visit. Paradoxically abounding development of mobile apps in the tourism sector may also loose visitors destinations make so many efforts to guide! Digital hospitality should better take into consideration fluctuant visitors’ information and assistance needs during the stay and Destination Management Organisations have a key role to play for clarifying existing applications available both at trip planning and visit stages. Expected benefits for those providing better m-tourism experience: increasing spending at destination, repeat visits and recommendation levels”.

Technical note: analysis extracted from the TRAVELSAT Competitive Index Survey based on 25 000+ representative international travellers (leisure, MICE and VFR) realized in 2011 and 2012 in 200+ destinations and markets.

About TCI Research
TCI Research is a Brussels based leading independent research agency specializing in destinations’ competitiveness evaluation. It carries out the UNWTO Innovation Award Winning TRAVELSAT Index, a reference global competitive survey benchmarking countries, regions and cities’  brand experience. TCI Research helps public and private tourism decision makers increase efficiency of their policy, management and marketing by providing global and comparable demand data combining structured surveys and web social media conversations audits. More on

abouTourism is the exclusive representative of TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index in Greece & SE Europe/Eastern Med Destinations. For more information you may contact us at: or  (+30) 210 8941610.

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Growing Mobile Travel Marketing

Travel apps are leading industries in usage growth at the same time that travel companies are digging deeper into mobile app development as they aim to connect with consumers at all points during the travel journey, according to the latest survey results. Services that support everything travelers are doing during the entire travel experience cycle, from planning to booking to sharing their experiences.

These efforts are getting consumers’ attention. A May 2012 Nielsen study, “Courting Today’s Mobile Consumer,” showed that in the US travel apps were seeing the highest year-over-year growth of any industry or product-related app category, at 116%, well above the growth in overall mobile app use (84%).

Travelers are showing a penchant for using their phones to do more than simply complete an on-the-go booking. For example, comScore’s “Mobile Travel Advisor” survey from February 2012 showed that US travelers were often using their smartphones for mobile hotel-related searches such as finding things to do nearby or places to eat near their hotel.

At the same time, the 2012 SITA Passenger Self-Service Survey has revealed that passengers want more self-service and mobile-based offerings to help improve the travel experience.

The annual survey – which included more than 2,500 passengers from over 70 countries – found that 70% of passengers now carry smartphones, which is fuelling demand for services such as self-boarding and flight information updates.

In response, travel marketers are incorporating social check-in partnerships, concierge services, customized coupons and other in-destination services into travel apps to create customer service touchpoints and brand loyalty opportunities as well as ancillary revenue streams. These recommendations are relevant to locals as much as they are to tourists, making the apps more widely marketable.

The trend toward mobile travel app usage points back to the fundamental nature of travel as a mobile activity. As smartphones proliferate, they’ll more often be looked to as the go-to resource for travel information on the fly.


Location Based Information & The Mobile Traveler

With mobile travel research and bookings still emerging and expected to grow rapidly, brands have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. According to eMarketer estimations,  16 million people in the US will book travel on a mobile device this year, with that figure set to more than double to 36.7 million people by 2016.

Part of mobile’s appeal to travel consumers is its ability to draw on location-based information, aiding customers on the move who are looking for car rentals, hotels and other services on short notice.

A Q1 2012 report by mobile-local ad network xAd found that almost half of all local travel searches completed on a mobile device in the US were related to transportation. Travel agencies accounted for another 25% of searches, tours and attractions constituted 14% of searches and 12% of searches related to lodging and resorts.

Relatively high clickthrough rates were found for all three subcategories of hotels and lodging, car rentals and airlines. The CTR for ads shown after an airline search was an impressive 17.8%, followed by 17% for car rental searches and nearly 10% for hotel and lodging searches.

According to the report, the leading secondary action—the user’s next action after an initial click—for both car rental and airline searches was the placement of a phone call to a business, at 73% and 89%, respectively. For hotel searches, more than three-quarters of secondary actions consisted of looking at maps and getting directions.

These secondary actions are the result of reluctance among consumers to navigate brand websites on a mobile device. Instead of dealing with an inconvenient interface on a small screen, customers preferred to call businesses directly. In the case of those performing hotel or lodging searches, consumers turned to map and directions apps to find the information they sought. In both instances, users sought the most efficient path, underscoring why brands seeking to secure bookings from mobile customers must focus on optimizing local search with a click-to-call button in results.

In a new Location-Based Advertising and Marketing research report, Berg Insight estimates that the total global value of the real-time mobile LBA (Location-Based Advertising) market was €192 million in 2011, representing 5.0 percent of the total mobile ad spend. Growing at a compound annual growth rate of 90.9 percent, the real-time LBA market is forecasted to be worth € 4.9 billion in 2016, corresponding to 28.3 percent of all mobile advertising and marketing. Key drivers for LBA include the growing attach rates of location technologies in handsets, as well as the increasing consumer acceptance of LB Services in general.

Location is only one of many components in successful targeting, and marketers must also strive to leverage other contextual and behavioural information. High-precision real-time geotargeting is today sparsely used, and rightly so as most campaigns do not require targeting with an accuracy of a few meters. Hyper-local campaigns are nevertheless becoming more common.


Check Out More Trends on Tourism & Travel here

It’s All About Experiences & Engagement: Tourism Australia & Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day & Foursquare

Today, 02 Feb., is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada and this day every year the small city of Punxsutawney takes the national stage. Now with the advent of social media, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office is hoping to bring the city and its beloved tradition into the global spotlight.

And the tool of choice is Foursquare, the location-based, mobile platform that uses brightly colored badges as incentives for amassing check-ins at restaurants, tourist attractions, events and the like.

Foursquare users will be able to receive the Groundhog Day badge by following @VisitPA on the social network and checking in using the word “groundhog.” The badge will only be available from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Groundhog Day.

Now in its second year, the Groundhog Day badge has been record-breaking. It was unlocked by 27,846 users in 2011, more than any sponsored badge to that date

The badge is also representative of a unique partnership between the state of Pennsylvania and Foursquare. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to use Foursquare to promote more than 200 of its state tourist attractions.

Since the 2011 Groundhog Day badge, the tourism bureau has launched four badges, three of which have been retired. The remaining badge, called the Lock and Keystone badge, can be won by checking into five tagged locations across the commonwealth. Tagged locations include museums, restaurants and wine trails.

VisitPA has been a fantastic partner over the past year plus, working on not only badges, but user and merchant engagement,” according to a Foursquare Media Relations representative.

For the tourism office, the partnership with Foursquare has introduced Pennsylvania attractions to a global audience. Foursquare has 15 million users worldwide who have checked in at more than 1.5 billion locales, according to its website. Since its Foursquare launch, the tourism office’s account @visitPA has gained nearly 97,000 followers. More than 67,800 of those followers have unlocked one of its sponsored badges.

Groundhog Day badges are especially great because they’re available worldwide. Everyone in the world gets a chance to think about Pennsylvania — and visiting there — for one day, which is of even bigger importance to the Pennsylvania tourism officials  than getting people who are already in Pennsylvania to earn the badge.

Even though it’s not just about followers, it is worth mentioning that since the announcement of the 2012 Groundhog Day badge on Jan. 23, the @visitPA Foursquare account has grown by 1,200 followers.


100 Amazing Australian Experiences

A new campaign has just launched from Tourism Australia New Zealand, Fairfax media and Qantas.

We love this collaborative initiative, which manages to combine deep market intelligence, user generated content and a holistic presentation of the full package of tourism products and destinations.

The month-long digital campaign showcases 100 amazing Australian experiences, as chosen by Kiwi travel editors and experts. Launched on Australia Day with idyllic coastal experiences, the campaign also promotes Australia’s must-do journeys, nature experiences and events.

Each week, readers can vote for their favourite experience for the chance to win a $10,000 Australian holiday.  The campaign’s next phase will reveal the list ‘as voted for’ by Kiwis, along with the most travelled Kiwi of Australia.

100 Amazing Australian Experiences sits on the Australia Travel section of, alongside national news stories, lifestyle content and experience postcards. It’s supported by Tourism Australia social media and e-dm activity, as well as Qantas marketing.