Customer retention in travel sector: how to turn travellers into loyal customers thanks to new communication technologies? For humans, the act of travelling is almost as old as humanity itself. For companies doing business in the travel industry, the question is how to insert, integrate and guide this innate need within a purchasing process that is manageable, predictable, measurable?
And further, how can we transform the complex desire that drives us to travel into a consumer decision in a world of technological innovation that is changing at an incredible pace.
How can we transform tourists into customers, not only to convince them of the value of our offering but, above all, to establish a lasting relationship with them based on trust?
To try to answer these questions it may be useful to return to another tool that has been used successfully for more than a decade: the customer journey.
Customer retention in travel sector: An investment along the entire customer journey
For a detailed discussion of the concept of the customer journey, we’ll refer to two previous posts: in the first we provide an introductory overview, in the second we focus on the customer journey map. Here, we’ll look the difference between traditional marketing models, give a brief definition, and look at the different phases of the customer journey.
Definition: The customer journey includes all the online and offline moments (touchpoints) in which the relationship between the customer and the company develops.
Versus traditional models: McKinsey puts the emphasis on the dimension of autonomy and customer awareness that defining their “journey.”
According to the funnel, consumers would proceed from a set of potential brands and in a linear way, and they would reduce the number of options until, logically, methodically, they arrive at the final choice. However, this model does not account for the touchpoints and key buying factors created by the explosion of product choices and digital channels, and it doesn’t factor in the informed and attentive consumer. McKinsey also speaks of a consumer decision journey, underlining the circularity of the decision-making process.
Phases: There are four phases of the consumer decision journey:
- initial consideration;
- evaluation, the process of searching for and selecting products or services;
- closure, i.e. the moment of purchase;
- post-purchase, when the consumer experiences what he has purchased.
The post-purchase phase becomes more and more critical every day; what happens here will guide the next purchasing decision. Therefore, companies must invest here in order to not waste the reputational capital they’ve earned during the process. This involves, first of all, moving toward marketing and technology solutions that allow you to have accurate knowledge about your customers through their feedback, and to be able to use this information in an increasing attempt toward personalization.
Personalization in Travel & Leisure
If the decision-making process as we have outlined it can be found to varying degrees in all markets, it is even more so in Travel & Leisure. Here, companies need to be able to analyze the needs of diverse customers in order to build increasingly personalized proposals.
The offer of a personalized service appears among the travel trends for 2019 highlighted by Booking.com.
According to Booking:
- Travel is increasingly conceived as a source of knowledge
- is increasingly approached in a conscious and environmentally friendly way, for example by reducing the use of plastic until it is completely eliminated.
In general, tourists, especially younger generations (Millenials and Generation Z):
- are attracted to unexplored territories
- actively seek out new experiences
- and want to make the most of short holidays
In addition to these trends, we find an increasingly pronounced need for personalization.
Among the travellers interviewed, a third (34%) would like others to organize the trip, while about two fifths (41%) imagine a near future where artificial intelligence technology will be used by providers to make suggestions based on previous travel experiences. In short, truly tailor-made experiences.
In 2019, technology innovations to enable ease of use will also be the standard.
In summary, what was once simply an alternative to physical channels is now a solid channel in its own right and one that is in constant evolution. Today, companies in the Travel & Leisure sector will need to use all of the digital tools and innovations at their disposal to enable more attentive and stimulating customer care and to offer ever conscious and informed travellers a truly unique experience.
A focus on Digital Tourism
“The non-digital tourist is on the verge of extinction.” This is according to the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano who conducted a recent study that took into account the behavior of Italian travellers aged 18 to 75.
When it comes to planning an escape to exotic destinations, a cultural excursion, or a relaxing farm weekend, whatever the destination, only 2% of Italians do not go online to book their holidays. This is significant, especially if you consider that digital now contributes significantly to industry growth. In 2018, the travel sector in Italy grew by 2% over the previous year, for a total value of €58.3 billion, with the digital component recording an increase of + 8% or almost €14.2 billion. However, the picture emerging from the research also clearly shows another trend. For holidays of more than three nights,31% of digital tourists turn to an agency and 23% book their trips and lodging in person with live operators.
Customers appreciate many aspects of personal interaction, including the technical skills, efficiency of the purchasing process, and communication—the ability of representatives to listen and share perspectives, to understand the customer’s specific needs and make recommendations—all qualities that are exquisitely human.
Filippo Renga, Director of the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, confirms this: “Digital technology can support all Travel actors in their processes, for example in maintaining a long-term relationship with tourists, a factor that is one of the main sources of competitive advantage.”
Agencies have been able to reconfirm themselves as privileged intermediaries because they worked to build the relationship with the customer throughout the customer journey through the strategic use of digital tools and new communication technologies used to improve the quality of customer care.
Loyalty in the Travel market through new communication technologies
According to the Digital Innovation Observatory in Tourism report:
- Mobile is of absolute importance (66% of those who have booked online have done so from smartphones) and in business travel (about 15% of the digital market in Italy). Reviews and sharing on social networks also take place mainly on mobile phones.
- Chats are used by 10% of tourists
- 22% of tourists have experimented with augmented reality and virtual reality applications (52% before booking and 21% during the trip)
- 10% of tourists used a chatbot on a site during their last holiday, especially to ask for information (40%)
Although artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and voice recognition will continue to offer suggestions and opportunities for involvement, the winning technological innovations will be those that develop practical solutions able to respond promptly to the demands of travelers. This is all based on the concept not of generic travellers but based on each traveler’s unique personal characteristics.
Going beyond big data, focusing on information about individuals and their specific profiles (also called “smart data“), Doxee designs effective, immediate, and engaging interactive solutions that can enrich the customer experience, at every stage of a consumer’s journey. In particular, Doxee personalized videos make it possible to customize a wide range of elements such as text, images, and audio and to insert call-to action and user-directed storytelling to convey a message based on the viewer’s interests.
Do you want to learn more? Find out why Club Family Hotel has chosen Doxee Pvideo®to enable one-to-one, interactive communication with customers through personalized videos.