Ten Fresh Ideas: How to Effectively Market Resort Services to Mobile Users

Ten Fresh Ideas: How to Effectively Market Resort Services to Mobile Users

Those in the resort services industry serve a unique customer. Because customers travel to a resort destination, they are obviously unlikely to travel with a desktop computer—or even a laptop. Here’s where the growing prominence of smart phones presents a challenge—as well as an opportunity—for resort services companies (hotels, ski resorts, dog sled tours, etc.) to market to these unique users. Consider also that resort customers will tend to be middle-income or affluent, and are likely to be educated and tuned in to cutting-edge technologies. These factors all come together to make marketing to mobile users a sine qua non.

Here are the ways that our experience has shown us will maximize your marketing impact to users of cellular devices and smart phones.

1. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Have you browsed to your website from an iPhone or Android device? The small screen sizes on smartphones can make a typical desktop website totally unusable. Smartphone browsers tend to display at 320 pixels wide while a typical desktop website displays at over 1000 pixels.

Consider that your customers may already be in transit: either in an airport traveling or already in the region looking for activities, restaurants, etc. The marketing posture is ideal: your customer is on his or her way to your region and is thus closer to a purchase decision. This customer is most likely on a mobile device while the desktop sits idle at home. A mobile-ready website will ensure your message gets across and that you can close the purchase cycle. You can always contact us to design your mobile site.

If your website runs on the WordPress platform, setting up a mobile site is easy. Simply install the WPtouch plugin which will automatically transform your site to a customizable, smart phone-compatible application-style theme.

2. Text Marketing to Mobile Users

This is actually something NOT to do unless you really have valuable information that customers both want and have asked for. People are intimate with their phones and text messages, and the number one modern marketing faux paux is to be overtly intrusive. That said, if you can romance your mobile customers a bit and get into that special space, you’re doing something right. Ski resorts have done a good job with “dump alerts” by SMS message, but why not coupons and discounts for restaurants, hotels, tours, and excursions?

3. Get With Foursquare

We are big fans of Foursquare, the location-based social network where users “check in” when they visit a place of business. Coupled with geo-location, enlightened smartphone integration, social features (friends get alerts when other friends check in to a location), a scoring and award system, and the ability to add specials and coupons for customer, Foursquare is absolutely infectious for users and very powerful for business owners.

The best practice for business owners is to fully develop your Foursquare profile. Then, add specials and features for the “Mayor” (Foursquare designates on Mayor per establishment, based on patronage), and upload pictures of your establishment through the web-based management area. Signs at your establishment can remind people, “We are on Foursquare, check in now!” It gets better: when a Foursquare user checks into your establishment, that user’s Foursquare contacts are all notified! Imagine the free marketing you’ll get if that user has 250 Foursquare contacts. That’s 250 smartphone users getting an alert saying “SkiFreek has just checked into Bob’s Hotel, Tahoe.”

4. QR Codes

Have you noticed the strange square barcode symbols popping up on advertisements and product labels? You can see one at the bottom of this web page. These are called “QR Codes,” and the QR stands for “Quick Response.” They are two-dimensional matrix codes developed for optical recognition of small bits of data. Any iPhone or Android device can read these codes with a free (or paid) barcode scanner app. What data can be stored within a QR Code? Any small text text string. That means a phone number, website address, coupon, physical address, etc.

On tests we’ve run with print ads, QR Codes with embedded phone numbers have resulted in a 21% increase in phone calls. In resort services, a QR Code serves as an easy way for customers to both dial, and store, your business phone number. Need to generate a code? Do a Google search on “qr code generator” to find one of several free sites.

5. Mobile Coupons

This is not a new idea, but it’s still effective. Remember when your grandma would hold up the shopping line to shuffle through that enormous, overflowing pendaflex coupon purse? People love electronic coupons because they save paper, and they don’t get lost. You can make mobile coupons available to customers on websites, through search advertising, in mobile apps, and on and on. You can even tell customers to scan a QR Code on a coupon in a magazine.

6. Local Listings in “Internet Yellow Pages” Sites

Beyond your website and your other marketing outlets are hundreds of Internet Yellow Pages Sites (IYPs like Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, etc.). The IYPs are great for business because the IYPs are in competition for users; you can benefit from their promotion if your business is prominently featured in those directories. Google Places, Yelp, and YP.com all show nicely on mobile phones. Yelp and YP even have stand-alone apps for mobile devices that already have hundreds of thousands of users. That said, a truly complete IYP program is a big task: you need to develop complete profiles on all the major IYP sites. Be careful though, paid programs are offered by nearly all IYPs, and most of those paid programs perform very poorly. Also, not all IYPs are the same: Google Places and Yelp are monsters, but the hundreds of little IYPs are not likely to have an impact. So, prioritize your work from the largest sites to the smallest.

7. Mobile Commerce

Don’t miss out on the huge market of customers that make purchases through their mobile phones. Amazon sets the standard for online marketplaces with its mobile-ready ecommerce store. Do like it does, and make it easy for people to buy. Don’t have a huge budget for a full-blown store? Consider a single ecommerce page with Paypal for payment.

8. Free WiFi

Want mobile folks to participate in all this fun stuff? Start by making your place of business mobile-friendly and extend your internet connection (the one you probably already have) and offer free wireless to your customers.

9. Mobile Apps

There are a lot of app possibilities that connect customers with your brand – from trivia games to maps and music. There’s an app for almost everything, and if you can provide product information, account information, and the like, you should consider having an app too.

There are even apps out there that detect when a customer is near a store, offering rewards to enter and shop. Mobile users like apps better than web browsing because apps are dedicated to a specific function, and are often more efficient than web browsing.

Getting a mobile app developed can cost between $1500 and $10000, depending on the complexity.

10. Mobile Ads

Google Adwords has a program specifically set up to target mobile customers. Bing’s recent addition of a mobile advertising program is impressive. Both services are highly customizable, and you can even target specific geographic regions or devices. Want to target mobile users only in a particular geographic area? Both Bing and Google can do that. Want to advertise only on Thursdays before a big weekend? No problem, Bing and Google can do that. There is a range of flexibility and precision with mobile Pay Per Click that is often underused.

For more information on how TastyPlacement can help you with your technology marketing efforts…