One of the most striking (albeit sad) things about Maui 2013 vs Maui 2003 is the ubiquity of smartphones being hoisted around by visitors. If you visualized this exploding 3G density it would probably look like one of those animated epidemic outbreak maps you see right before they call the President in a zombie flick. With that said, the striking similarity between brain-craving shambling hordes and mai-tai craving slow-walking tourists is not lost on us. And since you can't take the latter out with a well-aimed crossbow shot to the noggin', you might as well try to get them into your restaurant.
In all seriousness (enjoy that phrase while it lasts), the reliance on smartphones by travellers has grown so large so fast that it demands it's own area of intense study amongst top agencies and marketing groups. By contrast, it took well-defined verticals such as LGBT and <21YO males years before they were taken as seriously as the smartphone carrying traveler of today. The reason for this is two-fold: GPS and Search. All smartphones have ridiculously accurate global positioning features making finding yourself in relation to things around you a piece of cake. This bleeds right into Search (damn right I'm capitalizing "search"). I'm not going to go into all the Google penetration numbers because we all know it's huge and the people that pulled it off are rich enough to make you cry. So just know, GPS + Search + people on vacation = butts in the seats - if you do it right.
Here are the facts:
47% of all restaurant searches are done on the go via a mobile device
60% will convert into paying customers within the hour
84% of mobile restaurant searchers with ultimately make a purchase
and here's the kicker...
61% of visitors to a mobile UNfriendly site will simply leave for a competitor's site
Brutal huh? If your mobile presence sucks enough, you make your competitor money. As if managing a restaurant wasn't hard enough. Just so you know, word of mouth is a close second to search. Print and radio aren't exactly dead, but they're hardly doing one-armed push-ups.
Okay, enough with the pontificating, let's get down to brass tacks.
Get a mobile site:
A lot of you have already dealt with OpenTable on this front. They'll set you up with a free mobile site to get you up and running. And as your dad always used to say, "You get what you paid for". OpenTable does not really have a dedicated creative staff and often times you're left to deal with an account representative for FAQ's. Safe to say, they are probably not a graphics or marketing professional. To be fair, their efforts usually lead to a workable and functioning mobile site that does the trick. On the flip side, the free site option often falls short in communicating your brand, aesthetic and culinary tone; which leads many GM to just pass on the whole mobile site thing. You have enough to worry about without adding "maintain mobile site" to your hellish Excel to-do spreadsheet.
This is where Cerebral Itch come in. We are a creative agency on Maui and know mobile like very few on the Islands. You can check our bona fides, they speak for themselves. What we do is make sure your mobile site looks like your regular site and/or restaurant and is not only functional, but attractive and positively affects conversions. We meet with you, determine a strategy, optimize your content (make sure your photos look great on mobile, make sure your social media is integrated, etc.) and set your mobile site free like the beautiful culinary dove that it is.
Market to Mobile:
The old "build it and they will come" trope could not be more false with mobile. Think of the millions of iPhone apps that languish on iTunes. Some of them may let the blind see and the lame walk for all we know, but when not marketed properly, they just sit there never to be downloaded. Same goes for mobile sites. The common stat being thrown around is 9 out of 10 travelers are carrying a 3G and/or WiFi enabled device. And if any of you have seen the pool areas of the major resorts, you know that most of the bodies strewn about have a mobile device in their face...or a crappy Dan Brown novel, but that is another sad topic for discussion. So just image reaching the people lying around pools who are hungry and getting tired of their kids charging $20 baskets of french fries to the room.
You can in fact, employ some very cool methodologies that will allow you to reach them as they bake. They are as follows:
This is essentially the same as regular search people do with Google or Yahoo except now they're doing it from their phone but it will have 5-10X the conversion rate of desktop search. We can show you how to do this, how much it will cost and how it can get you "above the fold".
This one is by far the coolest, especially here on Maui. You can now do local ad and search campaigns by cell phone tower. If you would just like to be seen in results for the Kapalua/Lahaina area or Wailea/Kihei? Guess what? You can and we know how to do it and do it well.
This one is for the desktop side. Let's say someone is searching from their laptop in their room. They come to your desktop site and from there you can drop a "cookie" in their browser. This little nugget of code essentially tells web servers what to show in ad spaces on a web page and in this case, it will tell them to throw up your ad every chance it gets. You will stay in your potential customer's eyesight whenever they are on the web.
Do you know the most used apps people use while here on Maui? We do and we can get your ads on them. And we're not talking ESPN or CNN for thousands of dollars. We are talking social apps and travel apps that are currently running Candy Crush ads because no one is taking advantage of their inventory for Hawaii. Just know, this will not last for long.
In our next post we'll go into more detail on the above methodologies as well as the big elephant in the room: social media; but for now you have an idea of what it takes to crush it when it comes to mobile and your competition.
One last thought to keep you up tonight:
What if you took the cash you put towards that print ad commitment you run in the weekly food/activity mag you see piled up on every corner and put it towards a focused mobile strategy that generated actual metrics you could track and measure against your receipts?
Yeah, that's what we thought.
Zombie art by Nik Holmes - Zombie Dollars