This article originally ran in Forbes
Last month, we attended PhoCusWright’s Travel Innovation Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and were fortunate enough get a first-hand look at the five trends in the highly competitive travel industry that will impact the entire business community in 2014.
1. Mobile matters today and will matter more tomorrow. Consumers will be more mobile in 2014. Period. If your company isn’t channeling the lion’s share of its energy into reaching the mobile user, you’re going to be left behind. eMarketer reports that mobile search advertising is expected to grow 52% in 2014. Travel companies have been at the forefront of the mobile explosion as the vast majority of their customers work off of mobile devices when on the move. “Travel companies need to design products with mobile in mind first and everything else should follow from there” is the mantra we heard over and over again. This same logic applies to any company looking to reach an increasingly mobile consumer in 2014.
2. Emerging markets remain relevant. The world will return to emerging markets. If you thought that the recession eliminated opportunity for growth in emerging markets, think again. The United Nations reports that there are more than 2.5 billion internet users worldwide. Last month, the Internet and Mobile Association of India reported that India (205 million internet users) is on pace to overtake the US (207 million internet users) by the middle of 2014. This will place India second only to China which currently has 300 million active internet users. Given the growing buying power of China and India’s populations, ignoring these increasingly accessible audiences in 2014 means you’re leaving potential revenue on the table.
3. User acquisition is cheap and getting cheaper. The world will be even more open. With more internet users coming online every day and app markets racing to meet them, it’s become easier and more cost effective than ever to reach new customers through internationalized websites, localized apps, translated ads, and customized messaging and branding. The list of companies clamoring to provide the most international platform is long and getting longer—think Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo!. Fortunately for you, this competition translates to lower costs and more impressions.
4. User retention is costly and getting more costly. The world will demand more from you once you have their attention. The cost of acquiring a new customer remains fairly straightforward, spend X dollars to acquire Y customers. The cost of retaining a customer remains tricky and ultimately far more important. Highly targeted messaging will help you cut through the noise and you’ll likely acquire someone willing to try your product. The issue is that the noise doesn’t stop once you acquire a user. Today’s customers see up to 5,000 ads a day, which means if your company isn’t taking a holistic approach to each and every customer touch point by localizing and personalizing messaging, you’re missing out on opportunities rise above the buzz and retain current customers.
5. APIs are ubiquitous don’t ignore them. The world will give you even more API’s in 2014. We heard this time and time again at PhoCusWright, “build for the future and pull from what’s available today.” Companies of all sizes should think long and hard before building a new product from scratch. In the travel space, if your company is building proprietary technology to manage international travel and communications, you’re wasting time, money, and resources. The same goes for just about every industry that depends on software. Find relevant APIs and save your precious time and resources.
If you take these five trends into account in your planning for 2014, you should improve your chances of staying ahead of the curve and building for years to come. Do any of these trends stick out to you as more import than others? What else are you doing to prepare for 2014?
Ryan Frankel is the CEO of VerbalizeIt, the company that connects businesses and travelers directly to a 16,000-person translator community to deliver the highest-quality human translation. He is a Wharton MBA alumnus, former private equity investor for Goldman Sachs and an endurance athletics enthusiast. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com.