Monday, October 15, 2012

Are Accommodation Businesses Missing Out?

Owning and running a small business can be like being trapped on a small island. From when you are first are first incarcerated, you assume the outside world stands still as you busy yourself reacting to the day to day requirements of running a small business. But the world outside your bubble is changing and this change is occurring at a rapid pace.

A couple of recent articles caught my attention.

Statistics New Zealand now claim a milestone that over half of Kiwis are now using their mobile phones to browse the internet. Incredibly, mobile broadband users increased by more than a third in the past year to over 2.5 million.

New Zealand doesn't seem to be too far behind Google's often touted claim that by 2014, it is estimated that the number of people browsing the web on their smartphones will exceed desktop visits.

Another news story claims that almost half of New Zealand are on Facebook with 2.2 million accounts domiciled in this county. From a Herald DigiPoll, more than half use Facebook less than half-an-hour every day - It is difficult to ascertain how many of these accounts are simply lying dormant or if respondents were wanting to appear as if they have a life by claiming low use?

Over 450,000 hard-core Kiwis claim to spend more than an hour on Facebook every day.

From previous studies, the tipping point of more Kiwis accessing Facebook using a mobile device rather than a desktop occurred sometime last year. For many, the mobile Facebook habit has probably accelerated the growing phenomenon of making consumer choices via mobile phones. 

At the moment, a hard core of Kiwis own a smartphone that are always with them, always on and always connected. Global research from Google has found that a within any week, 81 percent of smartphone users have browsed the internet, 77 percent have used a search engine, 48 percent have watched a video and 63 percent have connected to a social network.

So where are upwardly mobile smartphone users gazing into their glowing small screens? The short answer is ...almost anywhere you can imagine. Google tell us that 39 percent are using it when they go to the bathroom and 33 percent while watching TV. Have you noticed newspapers providing online prompts such as QR Codes around their news stories, well apparently 22 percent now use smartphones while reading a newspaper.

While changes in social activity are interesting, from a business perspective the rapid change in how consumers make buying decisions is an opportunity.

According to Google, 79 percent use a smart phone to help with a shopping decision with 70 percent actually using a smartphone in-store to compare prices, read product reviews etc.74 percent of shoppers make a purchase as a direct result of the information they got from their smartphone.

So how many accommodation businesses offer a mobile consumer experience?

The answer is less than 5 percent...

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