Today’s ubiquity of mobile devices has revolutionized the way consumers make their decisions. According to an October 2015 Pew Research study, 68 percent of Americans have smartphones and 48 percent have tablets. Consumers are increasingly using these devices to plan trips, make reservations and read and write reviews. Therefore, the development of an effective mobile strategy is crucial to success in the hospitality industry, experts say.

Gone are the days of thumbing through travel guides, spending hours researching the ideal hotels, activities and restaurants before a business or personal trip. Today’s travelers are using websites and mobile applications for fast decision making.

Valley hospitality businesses are already implementing mobile strategies to better reach their target audiences. The Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau, for example, has embraced numerous mobile tools to promote the West Valley region, according to Lorraine Zomok, president and CEO of Visit Glendale.

“Utilizing mobile to drive the bureau’s messaging has tremendously widened our scope to reach untapped markets with a new voice in real time,” she says. “The emergence of mobile tools has provided us the opportunity to market to large global audiences with a quick turnaround time for unique creative campaigns, niche messaging and event-based outreach.”

Zomok says the Glendale CVB utilizes multiple social media platforms — such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and blogs — to drive the bureau’s tourism messaging.

Aside from establishing a presence on the fundamental social media platforms, the Glendale CVB has also employed additional mobile marketing strategies, such as social media contests.

Social media contests can help businesses increase their online following and can also provide the opportunity to interact with fans and gain content for future campaigns. From Twitter hashtag contests to Instagram photo contests, there are many opportunities for creative marketing through social media, experts agree.

Zomok also added that the Glendale CVB plans to increase their site prospecting and retargeting efforts in 2016.

Site prospecting and retargeting are both forms of online advertising. Site prospecting targets potential consumers who have not yet visited a specific website. Retargeting, on the other hand, targets potential consumers who have already visited a website — which is achieved by employing “cookie” files that store information about user activity — and then displays advertisements on other websites to users that have shown some engagement with the original website.

With this increase in mobile activity also comes a wealth of data about consumer behavior. Mobile analytics can be a vital instrument in up-selling, pricing optimization and measuring the success of marketing campaigns, experts say.

Additionally, social media can be used to encourage two-way communication with consumers to better understand their needs.

Zomok also emphasizes the importance of using social media to open up communication.

“The bureau works closely with members and partners to bring their voice(s) to the conversation through guest blogs, social messaging, a mobile app featuring a customer loyalty program and push messaging,” she says.

What does all this mean for the tourism industry? Experts say hospitality businesses can capitalize on the mobile movement by developing applications and websites that are mobile-friendly, using analytics to evaluate consumer behavior and establishing a proactive social media strategy to drive messaging and monitor user-generated content.