Travel supplement: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step
Attempting to unpack the whole landscape is like opening Pandora's Box. As an industry we are (or should be) focused on customer journeys, and nowhere is this more literal than in travel. If we think about gain-points and pain-points, the latter is a great opportunity to consider travel anxiety and areas that your brands should be tuning into to add the most value to your customer experience. These key moments along the way can deliver or destroy the enjoyment of moving between cities, countries and continents. What traveller worries are you placating, and what new concerns might emerge as we move forward?
The first area of anxiety is around change and the unknown. Whether it's for business or pleasure you're desperate to make the right choice of accommodation or destination. Online reviews can only go so far in settling the nerves about what to expect. However, social media has taken that many steps further and accidentally added to the stress. Your brand likely runs a strictly guarded Facebook or Instagram presence in the hope that this inspires future customers. You may even pull those positive posts into a feed on your brand site. Alas, nothing is this simple and your website or social page is unlikely to be where your customer is gathering their intel for this isn't where the real story is being told. User-generated real-time social review pages that exclusively talk about your product and service have set the bar, most often the content is written by guests who are currently there.
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Sagittarius argues increased travel provides marketers with more opportunities to enhance a traveller’s experience.
There is no simple way to control these types of conversations, except through joining them under the radar and listening hard to improve things on the ground. If the reviews are negative, your customer is often arriving primed for unhappiness.
How much can you reach out to customer ahead of the journey? Support at this stage could win you vital points. Partnering with services like Laundrapp could create a crucial advantage. Does your brand create video content that shows the customer how to fold 'like a pro' and save maximum space inside their luggage?
Apps like Packpoint, Packr, and Packing Pro give you alternative ways to do it right every time. Simply by selecting your destination, the reason for travel and a few other key parameters a custom packing list is created. Weather data and guest photography is pulled in that further customise your wardrobe choices for accuracy. You can then share and compare with friends and set reminders and checklists for total peace of mind. These useful tools are genuine reasons to choose a brand and spend more time engaging with its app and services.
The travel industry’s biggest advance has to be the e-ticket. But because this doesn’t stretch to our passport, it's hard to know if our anxiety around documentation will ever truly be solved. The e-ticket represents your biggest chance to gain customer data. Although de facto since the mandated compliance back in 2008 it's only in the last five years that this data has been augmented via integration with mobile OS wallets, wearables and various NFC techniques. What layers can be added to the basic data we know about your traveller from their booking? What does it take to use that data to personalise the next experience, to offer automatic partner brand coupons during delays or to save seconds for each customer that scale up to massive efficiencies for the brand and network?
However, creating a virtual version of any documentation creates new anxiety. If my tickets are on my phone and it runs out of charge, what will I do? On anything but a new phone, this can mean disaster if flights are delayed and a cable or charge point can't be found. This is a new kind of problem, and one of the reasons brands still offer paper tickets as a back-up.
There is more business travel now than ever before. For passengers who have urgent work to do, staying connected is essential. The average cabin is still a tech black hole where flight mode is often mandatory. Many of us take pleasure in being able to mentally disconnect from the ground for a while - but younger generations might not.
Some brands are treating communication needs as an essential part of the package. Lufthansa has opted for three levels of communication through what they badge as their FlyNet system. You can choose from messaging, surfing and high-speed streaming for ground-to-air teleconferencing. However you choose to think about the challenge, different types of internet access are important on trains and in hotels to control costs, match demand, and segment customers further. Every choice you give creates the chance to receive a new signal and create a new segment and funnel for conversion.
Take transfers for example. When I land I'm always anxious about transfers. Queuing time and price are difficult to predict and you risk being ripped off because Taxi price scamming is still common all around the world. Carriers like Skyscanner want to own this kind of data and as such have become great at handling the related logistics but considering the value of this additional data layer there is little evidence of it being leveraged elsewhere in my experience. The global online taxi services are even worse, simply leveraging basic web technology without a hint of ZipCar style thinking.
When I arrive abroad most often I arrive with nothing planned and no local currency. In this scenario, it’s still companies like Uber and Lyft calming my stress levels. Their relationship with me is via my mobile so I trust them, and their universal approach creates familiarity even in a strange city. Standards like vehicle tracking and connected account payment are even more appreciated on foreign soil and again there are lessons to learn for brands that care about location services and unified billing.
Whichever pain-points you choose to think about don’t restrict it to the obvious ones that suit your business. Think about the customer and what would simply please them, build a deeper relationship and allow you to find out more to improve future interactions. If you don’t have the budget and bandwidth to innovate then build a partnership journey strategy and share data with those that can.
This article was first published in The Drum Network's print supplement. Members of The Drum Network receive and have the opportunity to write for our print magazine, which is distributed to other relevant members and brands in print and on our app.
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Sagittarius specialises in website design and development, ecommerce, user experience (UX), personalisation, digital transformation, search engine optimisation (SEO), pay per click (PPC), mobile marketing, online advertising and social media planning and campaign management.Find out more