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Location Technology Powers Holiday Shopping & Travel

Location-Based Services & the Holidays

Location-based services (LBS) are slowly becoming more integrated into our daily lives and usage is heightened around the winter holiday season. In fact, two of the most common activities around the holidays are significantly influenced by the availability and utility of LBS. One is shopping for gifts and the other is traveling to visit family and friends.

The National Retail Federation estimates the average American consumer will spend approximately $935.58 during the holiday shopping season this year. AAA anticipates that nearly 49 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving alone. The overall number of travelers will grow exponentially during the other major holidays. 

In this two-part blog series, we will take a 30,000-foot view of several ways LBS help fuel our holiday activities. This blog post will focus on the retail perspective throughout the holiday season and it will examine how LBS enable retailers to enhance shopping and travel experiences. An upcoming blog post will detail how LBS fuel logistics and the retail supply chain elements of the holidays.

Location Helps Make Happy Shoppers

Over Thanksgiving weekend, more than 137 million Americans are expected to shop in-store and online so retailers are challenged to deliver excellent customer experiences regardless of the circumstances. With this in mind, many brick-and-mortar retailers will deploy a location technology called geofencing. This is a location-based service that creates a digital geographic fence (geofence) around the physical location of where a customer might visit throughout the day. A retailer will typically create a geofence around its physical stores. Once a customer enters the geofence, the retailer can take an action such as sending them a mobile coupon.

Retailers use geofencing to promote location-specific sales and to engage with an increasingly mobile customer base. Staying top-of-mind is crucial for retailers and the margin for error is razor-thin around the holiday season. For example, a customer can unknowingly walk by a store and not see signage for a sale on their favorite product. If they entered the geofence surrounding the store, they could receive a push notification to their mobile device with information about this sale. Once the customer checks their phone, they are more likely to enter the store to redeem the discount. 

Using geofencing, retailers are also able to construct more comprehensive shopping profiles for individuals based on their visits to specific locations and receptiveness to different forms of communication. Retailers can use this data to monitor foot traffic associated with sales, holidays and a variety of other factors. The information can influence marketing, advertising and pricing strategies. To learn more about location-based mobile marketing, read two of our previous blogs that answer key questions. (Part 1, Part 2)

Airports and Hotels Embrace Location Technology

The travel and hospitality industries are investing heavily in location technologies to assist with customer service, workforce management and a host of other critical activities.

Airports and hotels are deploying a number of different location technologies to enhance arrival experiences for passengers and guests. Many airports are using location beacons for check-in and travel alerts as passengers can download an app and opt-in to receive real-time flight updates sent directly to mobile devices. This technology can use passenger location to trigger push notifications with departure, arrival, gate and other relevant information. For passengers, this information allows them to better manage their time and plan accordingly if their flight status changes. Airports are able to use the passenger location data to more efficiently oversee pickup/drop-off traffic, monitor lines at security checkpoints and properly assign staffing around peak times of the year. Passengers at the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the San Diego International Airport are already benefiting from location technology. 

Hotels also utilize beacons and other location technologies for similar purposes to improve the check-in process. Guests are able to download an app and opt-in to receive updates on their room readiness and about specific events or promotions from the hotel or its partners. For guests, this information permits them to more accurately plan travel arrangements and it provides important updates or entertainment alternatives that could elevate their overall experience. Hotels use location data to know when guests arrive, monitor dwell time and it is becoming a key feature in loyalty programs. Additionally, this information can help ensure rooms are prepared on time and staff schedules are adjusted to accommodate the flow of guests.

If shopping and travel are the engines of the winter holiday season, then location data is quickly becoming a key ingredient in the fuel that helps them run.