When it comes to marketing to travelers, the world is your oyster. But as the rise of movement from A to B makes the world seem smaller and easier to connect, the digital universe just gets bigger and bigger. As the likes of Google Flights, Momondo and experience-driven tour operators swallow up the marketplace with third-party distribution, how can more traditional travel players stop themselves slipping from top-of-mind straight into the danger zone?
We all know the travel market has long moved past the traditional high-value business-traveler vs low-value budget-traveler distinction. Think of millennials with well-paying jobs who have made a New Year’s resolution to do a weekend trip every month; the late-20s traveler who has saved up to finally embark on a two-year-long world trip; the new parents who have unlimited vacation as a perk of their well-paying high-stress job — and take their regular week-long getaways seriously. There is value to be found in seemingly endless pockets of the travel market, but they know — as well as you do — that they have limitless choices and countless services vying for their attention and loyalty.
This disillusioned generation may be more difficult-to-retain, but they’re also investing heavily in overseas experiences. In a survey of more than 34,000 people from 137 countries, the WYSE Travel Confederation found this hard-to-win segment to be regularly choosing long-term trips over two-week jaunts, with young travelers on the move for an average of 58 days.
How can you capture the hearts of this frequent and fast-moving — and increasingly high-value — group of people, and then get them to stick with you for the long-term?
While industry disruptors invest heavily in audience-buying, predictive modeling and ‘best guesses’ to capture quick attention from mid-market travelers, well-established players in this market can instead grab the chance to build meaningful customer journeys based on definitive knowledge by fo0llowing a few simple principles based on using existing customer data.
Turn your customer’s fragmented world of ‘option shock’ into an opportunity to offer them travel bundles which truly resonate with them. With a few little tweaks to your existing CX ecosystem, you can recognize your customers across all communication and ad channels, by matching their exact profile with the data they directly shared when they last traveled with you.
In doing this, you can deliver a travel package precisely for them — one that makes sense for their preferences, previous destinations and behaviors. And you can offer it exactly where they're looking for it, at just the moment they need to kickstart plans or turn casual browsing into a booking commitment.
In a world where business and pleasure merge, flex-hours have become the norm, and the age of convenience is here to stay. That means you need to be as flexible in serving your customers as they are in browsing for trip options.
First, in order to better understand your customer’s fluctuating movements you need to be looking at their booking history, previous service enquiries, direct search data and email interactions. Then you need to augment it with trusted partner data to smoothen out or mitigate service hurdles in real time. Did that couple bring a baby on-board last time? Be there with a family-based flight ancillary to help them get from A, to B, to C, with zero hassle.
Does your mobile app indicate that they arrived at London Heathrow airport on the exact dates they're searching for last year, but they haven't book with you again this time around? Win them back with real-time treatment. Serve them via that chat interface where they’re most responsive, and let them know you that you have a personalized price in mind just for them because you can't wait to have them back on-board again.
There’s a lot to be said for helping your newly loyal millennials to truly switch off. A proliferation of digital devices and easy communication makes it all the more important for you to use customer data responsibly. When they’re away, you have a chance to prove the value of the data exchange they have willingly entered into and reinforce a relationship of trust by carefully capping your targeting, switching off your ads, and stopping the influx of emails which will fall flat as they indulge in a much-needed digital detox.
Brands in fickle markets such as travel need to create customer preference — a quicker-win, easier-to-influence shift in brand allegiance or advocacy. Functional needs like pricing are still fundamental to these coveted mid-market travelers of course. But if they decide to go the distance with your brand, they’re sharing their coveted data with you in exchange for something beyond function — opting for inspiration and relevance over the premise of a basic transaction.
That the Millennials’ Choice Survey highlighted Airbnb as a firm favorite travel brand proves this. They don’t matchmake people with lowest prices — they match people with experiences; helping individuals, couples, friends, and families to discover local ways of living, and enriching relationships with the world, by learning from individuals.
So now is the time to build a one-to-one relationship with this promising group of travelers, by engaging with what they care about one on one, based on what they have already told you. This is the opportunity to turn them from frequent but fickle travelers into loyalists, by using an asset which for many remains untapped: customer data.
It means convenience, anticipation, adaptation, and ultimately, showing you care. It means knowing, not assuming. And it can be done just by connecting your existing trails of information, and applying it intelligently and intuitively to everyday customer interactions.
Looking for the best way to capture your travel customer’s heart? If you ask us, it all starts with a personal conversation. You need to understand what they want, when they want it and how. And then you need be able to give it to them.
Luckily, you already have all the data you need to help your customers get from A to B on their own terms. Get these insights and more in our Travel Insights Hub.