Reinventing the travel customer journey.

With the sun rising on recovery for the travel industry, many operators are looking to implement new strategies and approaches.

By Richard Baker30th April 2021

With the sun rising on recovery for the travel industry, many operators are looking to implement new strategies and approaches to reflect the new landscape that we all find ourselves in.

Stage 1. Dream – Planting customer ideas, gaining inspiration, sowing the seed and stimulating engagement.

Stage 2. Plan – Customer experimentation, enquiries and leads nurtured, relationships built and confidence gained.

Stage 3. Book – Moving customer interest to customer commitment, logistics, itineraries, detail, and building trust between the operator and customer.

Stage 4. Experience – Pre-departure, during and post trip’ Honeymoon’ period – it’s about ‘living the dream’ (pretty much on hold now due to COVID travel restrictions!).

Stage 5. Remember – Sharing the experience, addressing feedback, conducting surveys, seeking advocacy and encouraging re-booking.

A Passion for a Better Customer Experience.

Long before the recent pandemic, Inspiretec has specialised in helping its customers to achieve their visions for their ideal customer experience, both online and offline. This passion for constant improvement and development is reflected in Inspiretec’s thought leadership and embodied in their publications which include 2 volumes on Improving Customer Experience and a white paper on Digital Tourism. Using their technology stack of CRM, Reservations and bespoke web development they span the entire customer experience model from dream through to remember. Download them here.

Reimagining the experience.

Throughout this period where travel has been severely restricted travel customers have dreamt of nothing else but planning and booking their next holiday, many taking to the internet to get inspired on their next destination and activities they will do when they get there.

With reference to our model above, Stage 3 ‘booking’ is incredibly well serviced by technology – lots of great websites, call to book or retail channels are available help the customer build their itinerary and part with their cash.

The opportunity that we see is for operators to focus on the often overlooked and under-serviced stages of dream, plan, experience and remember stages.

The fundamental goal here is to gain a greater knowledge of the customer, their needs and wants throughout the entire booking history through both online and offline channels. Through the sensitive use of technology, you can improve the customer experience. Here are the three pillars that can help operators achieve a step-change improvement in their customer journey:

 Customer journey pillars

  1. Know – Don’t force your customers to explain multiple times their preferences and previous contact with your company. Critical for stage 2 and early stage 3.
  2. Automate – Speed up, streamline and improve the stage 3 processes so that valuable human time can be freed up to deliver magic elsewhere.
  3. Enhance – Make the end to end experience better, add in some whistles and bells to make the customer life easier and keep them engaged throughout stage 4 and 5.

Knowledge is power.

According to research conducted by Forrester, CX leaders have a 5 times greater revenue growth on average than stragglers. It isn’t necessarily about implementing brand new processes or gaining fresh information but rather using the information already owned by your organisation to better use. There is a lot of data flowing in/ out of your organisation:

  • Social demographic & transactional info.
  • Contact & response history.
  • Social media data.
  • Online data.
  • Location data.
  • Analytics (spend, POS data etc).

All of this data is available to you, but how much, how good and how valuable it does vary, if it can be collated and used correctly can help you define your customer's needs and wants. It is essential to avoid silos of data and to eliminate any duplication or confusion from the data stored.

A good CRM is essential to Automation.

Consider a good balance of quality and quantity of the data. You do need both, but you can tailor this depending on the application. (e.g. personalisation does need a critical mass to be effective). To establish a single customer view you need:

  • Relevant data in a single place.
  • Use the data to add value to the customer journey.
  • Apply tech sensitively and appropriately.
  • Be prepared for business change.
  • Start small. Big will come later.

It’s about pulling together the relevant information you already have and using it to make incremental business changes that’ll give you a return on your investment.

AUTOmation vs MANual.

Data is the foundation of automation. Most automation is events driven and is triggered by a change in data… a cancellation, a complaint, a rebooking, an absence of a rebooking. Just because you can automate, doesn’t mean you should, and vice versa! Travel, especially leisure travel should not be seen as a commodity, it’s an experience from start to end.

If you can get away without automation then it doesn’t mean you should ignore it either.

As a travel company, you are offering a service as much as a product, the client interaction is key to this especially where you don’t control the end product – so an OTA for example.

Automation can provide a consistency of service that is as important as quality. A core driver for automation across all industries is to move humans up the value chain, enhancing processes more than doing them. Humans can do the ‘thinking’ rather than the ‘doing’ for example, which is essential when you are looking to make the customer journey understandable and relatable.

Engage with customer on their terms.

A key technique of enhancing customer experience is to use personalisation. The level of personalisation will be defined by the data you have as well as your brand and marketing strategies, but be aware that greater personalisation is now becoming the norm and expected by customers:

SmarterHQ surveyed UK and US consumers and 90% of them are willing to share data for a cheaper and easier experience.

Instapage reported that 74% of consumers felt frustrated when website content is not personalised.

Accenture reported that 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them.

The customer expects the companies they engage with to know them. Customers are becoming more conscious of how their data is used. This does not mean we should not use it, but it does mean that customers expect the value from their data to benefit them.

Reinvention or evolution?

The new business landscape in tourism post-COVID has changed and companies will have to change to meet the new needs from the inclusion of Vaccination Passport information, safe destinations and greater risk over future travel bans. Inspiretec will continue to help its customers not just respond to this change but be prepared for the next big challenge the industry might face in the future. So if you are looking to reinvent your approach or just evolve your current systems then Inspiretec would like to leave you with these last few thoughts.

6 Steps to Success

  1. Create a single customer view (with clean data).
  2. Integrate platforms to share data.
  3. Use customer insight to personalise the journey.
  4. Automate to empower your experts.
  5. Offer self-service options.
  6. Extend the touchpoints beyond booking

When it comes to reinventing The Travel Customer journey, if you are implementing a brand new strategy or evolving an existing one, Inspiretec has both the experience and the capability to help you deliver the significant improvements that your customers deserve and expect. To start on that journey, experience our Travel CRM product for yourself at www.thetravelcrm.com

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