Figure 1. Mobile apps (CoColombia, 2016)
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are now in a changing world, where mobile marketing becomes increasingly important. These days almost everyone is in the possession of a smartphone. With the appearance of mobile marketing, DMOs are forced to engage in mobile marketing to respond to current trends within its visitor markets. But how does mobile marketing affects the role of DMOs within their business?
In order to sophistically respond to the needs and wants of its customers, DMO websites as iAmsterdam and CoColombia, (City Marketing Organization and Destination Marketing Organization) directly segment their target marketing in conventional and business markets. CoColombia even launched three different mobile apps, created for their three different target markets; conventional travellers, divers and business travellers. They used a label strategy to better adapt to the demands of each specific target group. However, despite the fact that DMOs use segmentation techniques to segment their most prevalent target markets, personalization (one to one marketing) is still found very difficult within the industry of DMOs. Personalization or one to one marketing, is that knowledge acquired before, based on the customer’s preferences the product, can be tailored to the customer’s specific needs.
Apps have many advantages, as they are more user friendly and create better usability than when visitors are only having the accessibility to the website of the DMO on a smartphone. Within these apps all information is viewed in detail but well-structured to enable visitors to find all the information they want in an easy way. Within these apps, DMOs also launched very strong campaigns where sound and vision strengthens the sensory experience, which can all be viewed from a small and compact application. By making use of these benefits, DMOs already engage the customer within the destination, and all information can be easily obtained (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). The ease of use and download, can provoke visitors to create the so called “rippel effect”, or word of mouth.
Instead of only promoting the destination as a place for business travelers, DMOs could also offer the services of their stakeholders through a mobile app. Most DMOs already enable visitors to book activities and accommodation through their website, but apps do not offer these services yet. Often visitors use apps of booking.com or Hostelworld for these services. DMOs should also use apps to go beyond acting solely as a platform where visitors can get inspired, but also get involved and engaged within the destination by already planning their trip. It is the future of DMOs to also start selling direct to their visitors, instead of only sharing information about the destination. In this way, DMOs could also track the interests of the visitor and create a loyalty program. In this case, DMOs could offer other services and products targeted to the needs of the visitor, based on the product history of the customer.
Hence, DMOs should become more involved in Mobile Marketing as visitors do not always travel with computer devices but with smartphones they do.
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