Travel Path to Purchase Case Study
From my phone, I checked Stub Hub for ticket options and there were a couple available for the Dublin show so I picked them up and then opened my Delta app and booked tickets for a week in Ireland around the Saturday evening show. Total time elapsed for this shopping trip… 10 minutes or so and I never left my mobile device. This is the new path to purchase, and content powers the customers journey along the way. We had no other plans besides the concert, and I knew we would use digital tools to fill out the remainder of our trip, so with the trip booked for mid-September I gave Shannon her gift in late April and we really didn’t think much about it during the summer.
In mid-August, we both began doing some research for things we wanted to do in Ireland. Neither of us really knew much about the country and the learning process of exploring via digital tools was educational. I used Google of course and especially leaned in on Google Local Guides content that is created by real people instead of the litany of ads that greet any search. It’s not that the ads aren’t helpful, but I find travel as a search category is so dominated by the advertisers, it’s hard to find things off the beaten path. The Google Local Guides content is integrated into Google Maps, so you can easily view content from the contributors related to places that might be of interest. A recent study by ThriveHive found that Google is favoring Maps content in local search so populating content there has an outsize effect.
Shannon and I shared links of things we found via text, and I created a simple Evernote file with our combined findings so I could find and add to it easily via any device I was using. I did some research on Carrauntoohil, the highest point in Ireland and thought we could maybe hike it. After being told by Shannon that this was a ‘relaxing vacation’, I continued to explore other options. There are several coastal areas that looked interesting so I once again used Google Maps to explore Cork, Galway, Belfast, and other potential destinations along with transport options. Again, this was a different trip for us as we were leaving final plans up in the air until we were actually in Ireland. We’ve often traveled with less flexible plans and then decided to stay somewhere different or gone to do things not on our fixed agenda (something we enjoy). Thanks to a ton of new travel tech, we can now be more flexible than ever.
Payments too are quickly changing travel. Using the Apple Card and Watch combo makes foreign transactions a snap as most establishments in Europe use tap-based POS systems. We really had no need for cash save the occasional tip and a cab driver in Belfast even accepted Bitcoin. Removing friction, using easy to use touch payments, is a primary tenet of Retail Relevancy. Amazon one-click has set expectations for ease of purchase and integration of shopping touch-points, and travel is a perfect category to apply these tactics.
We decided to head up to Belfast the morning after the concert. Again, we didn’t have plans but it was exceedingly easy thanks to all the available digital travel tools. We could easily book train passage via mobile app, and retrieve tickets from a kiosk at the station. We had moved hotels closer to a district we had passed while walking Dublin, and HotelTonight made it simple once again. A quick check of Apple Maps showed we were too far for an early morning walk to the station, so we scheduled a cab pickup with the front desk (no rideshare in Ireland). An easy ride and we were at the station and on the train. We booked a hotel again using HotelTonight and decided to spend the day visiting the Titanic Museum at the H&W shipyard.
This trip was filled with by the minute activities informed by social content, confirmed with digital support tools, and transacted with a minimum of friction. The travel path to purchase will never be the same.