An excerpt from my guest post on the 1:1 Blog:
This summer, our family vacationed in Italy and Austria. Travel, as am sure you will agree, is a very high involvement experience – exhilarating when things go well and pretty awful when things go wrong, particularly when you are traveling with family. In preparing for the trip, we relied on traditional guidebooks as well as customer feedback from a variety of travel sites. In doing so,it struck me that the guidebook companies have diversified and leveraged multiple media types to truly engage with their customers in order to inform and enhance their travel experience.
The best guidebooks maintain websites where you can download audio tours, augment information that is already in the book and receive updates online or on your mobile device, subscribe to podcasts, upload pictures, check recommendations from other customers, as well as browse and comment on staff experiences. These websites and discussion groups are often a seamless extension of their base product, brand and offering. Readers/customers, as well as other members of the ecosystem (e.g. tour operators, hotel managers) can actively participate, add to and shape their product, namely by providing advice and intelligence for travelers on things to do and to watch out for while maximizing the value they get from vacations. However, there is a wide range of sophistication across the major travel guide companies in how well they engage their customers and truly build a seamless experience across these different media. This has to do not only with how savvy they are with new digital media that are more engaging, but also with their ability to effectively integrate these different ways that customers can interact with them.