The surge in digital use has affected many industries, most notably the travel sector. Which is why digital agency Sagittarius and digital experience management software company Sitecore have compiled a whitepaper in partnership with Travolution to find out how digital can improve customers’ travel experiences.
The whitepaper considered the challenges that are currently facing the travel industry, particularly looking at the effect of Brexit and GDPR changes on marketer decisions, allowing C-suite decision makers to then gain an idea of where future opportunities will lie for travel brands.
The effect of Brexit on travel
Unsurprisingly, Brexit was a big concern for travel marketers. As politicians continued to debate an exit deal earlier this year, consumers were worried that the looming April 29 Brexit deadline would limit their ability to travel much over summer. However, now that things have been delayed to October, the report suggested that summer travel sales could suddenly surge.
Other challenges facing the travel sector included dwindling consumer demand and rising travel costs, yet the whitepaper suggested that these could also be attributed to Brexit according to industry data released by GFK analysts.
Paul Stephen, Sagittarius' CEO, said: “Aside from sales, I would expect operational challenges to be the most worrying issue for operators as customer demand will, inevitably, recover. We cannot ignore that rising costs are the next big issue. Clearly brands are feeling their margins being squeezed and are unable to inflate prices to reflect increased costs. Notably, tech staff and skills haven’t been cited as major challenges to business success.”
Why investing in social pays off
The whitepaper also revealed that social is an increasingly-used channel by many travel marketers.
Facebook Advertising was cited as delivering the best return for marketers at 19%, beating Google Adwords (17%), followed closely by traditional methods like direct mail (14%) and emerging voice tech (13%).
Stephen questioned whether travel brands might be tempted to adopt a more multi-channel strategy as a way of reaching new and existing audiences, considering that other platforms like TV, radio and press didn’t score so highly.
While the majority of respondents could see the benefits of using digital for their businesses, a mere 20% of gross profits are invested into tech, marketing, innovation and IT, suggesting that there’s still a way to go until business truly drive the necessary change to bolster customer experiences.
The report revealed that travel firms can do more to improve customer experiences, through adopting more personalised methods such as Live Chat and personalised emails. These will help to create a tighter bond between consumers and companies, which could lead to improved customer loyalty.
Changes to GDPR regulations had caused some issues with over half of respondents citing minor (54%) and major (4%) problems. However the report identified which departments in companies had the biggest digital skills gap, suggesting that marketers could focus on upskilling their employees in these areas.
“The survey response showed just over 50% of brands have loyal customers who re-book within 24 months, and we know that customer loyalty is a hard-fought battle,” said Sean Rusinko, global director of business optimisation, strategy and industries at Sitecore. “But once brand-loyal, less than a third are willing to try new offerings. Data, machine learning and customer experience will be key to optimising customer lifetime value.”