Mobile itineraries connect and captivate travelers of all ages.
It’s no secret: Gen Z has burst onto the scene and is nipping at the heels of Millennials for the title of most-coveted target demographic. The generation born in the late ‘90s and first decade of the 2000s is increasingly driving travel decisions and dollars, and has industry leaders racing to stay one step ahead of the digital natives’ expectations.
In less than three years, Gen Z will account for 40 percent of consumers with disposable income, according to the Digital Tourism Think Tank, giving them a powerful voice in the leisure travel economy. Innovation, automation, personalization and instant gratification—ideals that have been fostered throughout their youth—have become their new gold standard.
Gen Z Makes the Call
But Gen Z isn’t just looking out for themselves: They and Millennials are also the guiding hand behind the 30 to 44 percent of leisure travel that is multigenerational, including Gen X parents and, often, Baby Boomer grandparents. A Preferred Hotel Group study on multigenerational travel discovered that while the younger generations are making more of the decisions, the older ones are more willing to foot the bill in order to be included. (It’s no wonder that more than 90 percent of Millennials surveyed say they try to take a multigenerational trip every year.)
So how are advisors expanding their approach to satisfy not just boundary-pushing Gen Z, but their older travel counterparts, with such apparently disparate needs and attitudes toward technology? Lately, they’re turning to mobile itineraries to connect with all ages of travelers through an elegant, customized digital experience.
Mobile Takes the Lead
With more than half of Millennials, and even a quarter of Boomers, spending upwards of three hours a day on their phones, it’s no surprise that forward-thinking travel and hospitality companies are focused on finding new ways to enhance the customer experience through mobile technology: Mobile boarding passes. Keyless entry to rooms. Thermostat and Smart TV controls. Even mobile passports are in the works. Our phones have quickly become one of the most dynamic tools for controlling our travel experience.
Perhaps one of the most fundamental—and impactful—mobile advances in travel has come in the form of digital itinerary management systems and the mobile itineraries they generate. These platforms allow advisors to build, manage and collaborate on proposals online and then deliver beautifully designed interactive itineraries to their clients’ phones, among other channels. Featuring sleek interfaces and intuitive controls, mobile itineraries combine the cutting-edge, connected experience Gen Z and Millennials demand and the shareable content Gen Xers love, with the more pragmatic ease-of-use and time savings that Boomers appreciate.
Mobile Itineraries at a Glance
A host of significant traveler benefits make mobile itineraries an extremely effective tool in the advisors kit.
An unbelievable 85 percent of global consumers keep their phones within reach at all times. Mobile itineraries take the logical step of putting all the information travelers need where they are already spending their time. In addition to eliminating unwieldy paper documents, mobile itineraries capitalize on the ability to link travelers directly to hotel and attraction websites, provide turn-by-turn walking and driving directions, and integrate expert reviews and destination content.
As travelers begin the planning process with their advisors, itinerary systems foster a collaborative workflow from beginning to end. By initiating a digital conversation and enabling everyone to contribute, advisors are more quickly and easily able to build trips that reflect their travelers’ unique personalities and individual goals—the type of personalization that’s become nothing short of essential for younger generations.
“Travelers are exposed to so many more options and are more educated and passionate than ever about how they spend their time and money,” says Greg Wilshire, director of operations for itinerary management system AXUS. “It’s essential that our industry evolves to offer more visibility and participation in the planning process.”
In cases where travelers and their advisors are working on multiple itineraries at the same time, these systems keep the details organized and allow all parties to monitor the status and progress as elements are proposed or confirmed.
Though disconnecting is often a primary goal of leisure travel, mobile itineraries make staying connected even more fun. Gen Z will love the embedded messaging capabilities—similar to messaging apps they’ve embraced as their primary and preferred method of communication—that keeps them in touch with other members of their group. And all travelers appreciate the exemplary level of service their agent can provide by instantly responding to questions and concerns and making real time updates to their itineraries while they’re on the road.
“By receiving the same flight updates my client receives inside the app, I am able to provide a higher level of service as I can proactively address any issues before the travelers have the opportunity to call or email asking for help in times of distress,” says Melissa Pugh, Luxury Travel Consultant, JETSET World Travel. “Recently, when a flight was cancelled, I messaged them to share that I was in the midst of rerouting them, and when the flights and transfers had been updated, they automatically received a push notification advising of the new plans. It was the most efficient process imaginable for every party involved. A dream come true!”
Security & Peace of Mind
Leveraging cloud technology and storage, mobile itineraries protect and provide remote access to key documents, such as visas, boarding passes and passport copies. Plus, they offer the reassurance of knowing you and your clients will receive critical notifications for important details like flight status changes.
As intrepid travelers explore ever-more remote corners of the world, mobile itineraries delivered via app can be accessed without an internet connection, keeping users informed and on schedule even when they aren’t online.
It’s a given that potential travelers are seeking out peer reviews and suggestions for both destination and activity advice. Sharing digital travel content has become the equivalent of yesteryear’s living room slideshow. With mobile itineraries, past and future trips are always in the palm of your customer’s hand, ready to be shared with family and friends.
A Win for Advisors
For travel professionals who adopt digital itinerary management systems, the benefits are clear. Not only do agents recognize dramatic time savings over paper itinerary creation, the itinerary templates they create can be re-customized over and over for new requests, compounding their gains.
“We’ve had advisor customers tell us they’ve seen more than a 60 percent time savings on itinerary creation alone,” Wilshire says. “That’s a huge chunk of time that they can refocus on selling travel and building relationships with new customers.”
The level of customer service provided by advisors also dramatically improves through increased responsiveness and the ability to update and push itinerary changes directly to a customer’s mobile device at any time. Customized branding or white labeling keeps the agent top of mind and supports powerful word-of-mouth marketing as satisfied customers share their itineraries with friends.
In a digital landscape where engagement and customer experience translates to loyalty, mobile itineraries have become not just an important differentiator for savvy advisors, but an indispensible tool to build connections with and between travelers of all generations.