The hospitality/travel industry is showing heightened interest in cloud-based mobile marketing solutions. iVeew is an early stage company that provides a fully-featured, cloud-based platform to manage mobile advertising and promotion for clients in the travel, hospitality and related fields. The company is also an innovator in the area of creating useful business cases for beacons.
We spoke with Tom Griffin, founder and CEO of iVeew. iVeew’s initial focus is on the tourist-rich Caribbean area. The company has recently negotiated an agreement with a core agency in the Caribbean as a marketing/distribution partner.
iVeew’s platform offers a multiplicity of applications, which are all integrated. One app of current emphasis is its Passtrek feature, which allows users to readily add items, such as airline passes, coupons and loyalty cards to Passbook on their iPhones.
Other features of its platform include: a) PushMe – targeted mobile promo messages; b) Video Integration; c) In-app Purchasing; d) Indoor/Outdoor Wayfinding Maps; e) Consumer Reviews. The company also offers iDestin, which Griffin describes as an “enterprise application platform,” to enable promotion of local businesses in an area, tying together all of the local offers/rewards.
Of further interest in terms of the Mobile Cloud is iVeew’s innovation in the area of beacons. Griffin describes how he became an early enthusiast of the potential of beacons. After speaking with some of the well-known beacon makers, the company decided to design its own beacons.
This allowed it to drive down the cost to the point where it can consider giving away the beacons to facilitate placement in key locations. The company is currently developing its own mesh beacons. (Mesh beacons not only communicate to a user’s smart device, but can also communicate with other beacons.) Griffin points out that the company’s design allows for over-the-air updating of beacon content and software and for physically changing the beacon battery.
With the assistance of its core partner, iVeew will be installing beacons in key venues for travelers, e.g., airports, hotels, car rental counters, etc. Griffin emphasizes that “beacons are only one aspect of our integrated marketing strategy.”
As an example, he cites a catamaran rental experience at a Caribbean hotel. The consumer is invited, through the iVeew beacon, to take a survey, which links to a coupon for the user. While rewards vary, they can go as high as a multi-day free stay at the hotel in some cases. The user can also be invited to participate in a game.
The iVeew system also accommodates the use of QR codes. In one example, a traveler on a participating airline can scan a QR code and thereby download coupons and other offers for all (or selected) islands served by the carrier. The company also has a new app that incorporates geo-fencing capability, allowing its customers to focus on very small areas, or larger defined areas.
Distribution Strategies and Partnerships
iVeew’s business model includes enlisting distribution partners, such as its core partner and related organizations, as well as various travel businesses. The partners are compensated by iVeew with fees based on a percentage of revenue collected from the advertisers they introduce.
iVeew is also planning to work with the individual hotel associations on the various islands. It will thus have a tiered fee/commission structure that will take into account introductions by its core partner as well as direct local selling efforts of the individual associations and other sales agencies.
The company is also exploring providing a white label service to certain commercial customers, including car rental companies. It also has an app, SeatQ for “wait time management” at restaurants, events and attractions.
Rates to advertisers will typically include a monthly charge plus a per-click charge for excess clicks. At this point the success of the program is ultimately measured by clicks by users on the various offerings on the iVeew system. At a later time there may also be charges for actual conversions (purchases) and for added features of the system.
Cloud and Mobile
IVeew describes its capabilities as: “Cloud based applications customized to integrate with mobile, delivering contextually targeted messages.” Griffin has also shown originality in deploying iVeew’s cloud infrastructure.
Disappointed by the performance of a couple of the most famous names in public clouds, he turned to a specialized cloud provider. He states that he now gets “great service at a fair price.”
A recent blog post from Adobe explored the lagging efforts of the travel and hospitality industry in taking advantage of mobile marketing. In addition to comments on deficiencies in website design and the need to strive for “the perfect mobile travel experience,” it also emphasized the importance of getting timely offers and coupons in front of travelers. The article also commented on the “explosive growth of beacons.” (“5 Top Mobile Marketing Tips from Travel and Hospitality Industry Leaders,” Adobe 3/2/15.)
Other articles have highlighted the crucial importance of mobile marketing to key travel segments, particularly hotels. Griffin points out that hotels are chafing at the loss of pre-booking activity to the prominent OTA (over the air, web-based) travel services – at significant cost to the hotels. The hotels – in a pattern that we at mobilecloudera.com are seeing in other verticals – are also interested in improving the visitor experience during their stay, as well as continuing engagement with the customer afterwards.
iVeew has picked a promising initial target area in the Caribbean. Total traveler arrivals were around 26.3 million in 2015 (up from a reported 25.0 million in 2013) and tourism generally represents about 15% of the region’s GDP (around $50 billion annually.)
Concern is being expressed among travel industry leaders in the region that the growth of the industry be restored after some difficult years during the sharp slump in the U.S. and world economies.
Our take is that iVeew is well positioned to bring the benefits of a diversified mobile cloud-based marketing program to its clients in the region. The company will have to demonstrate results from its approach of relying on third party distribution. However, it is confident that it can choose the right partners. iVeew is also exploring select sales opportunities in the U.S. and, some of its Caribbean commercial customer relationships should lead directly to providing similar service in the U.S. In time, its platform should be extensible globally.
Visit their website: www.iveew.co
Photo by Michael van Laar via Flickr