Tracking the Micro-Moments of Travel

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Red Roof Inn, after capitalizing on micro-moments, saw a remarkable 60 percent increase in bookings.

We all travel – both for business and personal reasons. At many points, we make decisions, and most of the time, use mobile phones to help with those decisions. For anyone involved in catering to travelers’ requirements there are multiple opportunities to sense and respond to these “micro-moments” in real time – if they’re ready and capable.

That’s the gist of a recent white paper published by Google, which examined the customer journey from booking to concluding travel. At each stage of the way, there are opportunities to observe and respond to real-time interactions with mobile technology, and take a leadership role in staying ahead. “There’s a lot of planning that goes into traveling. And people increasingly turn to devices for help. More and more of this time is spent researching the details of trips on mobile. As of the first quarter of 2016, 40% of U.S. travel site visits come from mobile.”

Along with all this mobile usage, “there are more micro-moments — when people turn to a device with intent to answer an immediate need,” the Google document states. Flight, hotel, and restaurant information, among other things, are the types of data being sought through searches. “In these moments, the stakes are high for travel brands as preferences are shaped and decisions are made. What happens in these micro-moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process.” Time for real-time intervention.

The report authors note that micro-moments fall into four stages:

I-want-to-get-away moments. These are the “dreaming moments that happen when people are exploring destination options and ideas with no firm plans. At this stage, people are looking for inspiration.”

Time-to-make-a-plan moments: The “planning moments that happen when people have chosen a destination. They’re looking for the right dates, the right flight, the right place to stay, and all the things they’ll do while they’re there.”

Let’s-book-it-moments: “Booking moments happen when the research is done, and people are ready to book their tickets and reserve their rooms. In these let’s-book-it moments, people are ready to put their dollars behind their decisions. And they often turn to search in these micro-moments.”

Can’t-wait-to-explore moments: These are “experiencing moments that happen when the trip is underway. Travelers are ready to live the trip they’ve been dreaming about—and share it with others.”

The Google report cites the approach of Red Roof Inn, which combines “intent with context to address a specific need for the stranded traveler. Realizing that flight cancellations leave an average of 90,000 US passengers stranded every day, the Red Roof Inn marketing team developed a way to track flight delays in real time and trigger targeted search ads for their hotels near airports. These ads said, in essence, ‘Stranded at the airport? Come stay with us!’ They committed to those let’s-book-it moments and delivered with relevance on people’s needs. The result: a remarkable 60 percent increase in bookings across non-branded search campaigns.” Similar real-time push ads have also been adopted by airlines, which post current flight data to search and display ads.

To address micro-moments, Google advises managers in connected businesses to “be there,” and “be useful.” Identify “the micro-moments for travelers that fit your business, then commit to being there to help when they happen,” they state. “Be useful. If you want to win the hearts and minds (and business) of travelers, you’ll need to do more than just show up. Be relevant to the person’s need in that moment. Connect them to the inspiration they’re looking for and to the answers they want.

More on this topic:

Case studies: big data analytics and travel

About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTINsights' Industry Insights Editor in charge of contributed case studies. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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