When was the last time you walked into a travel agency? When was the last time you didn’t start planning a trip online? Based on data from eMarketer, it seems that the answers to both are years ago. With the exception of retail, the travel industry might be one of the most affected by the internet revolution. The internet disrupted how travel is paid for and consumers love it. And it isn’t even close to being done yet.
In 2016 $565 billion worth of travel was booked online. In 2017 that number is expect to jump to $630 billion. That’s all online purchases. Mobile alone was expected to drive $65 billion worth of travel on mobile devices alone in 2016. That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of travel. And as Julie Heighton from Eye For Travel pointed out, consumers start and finish their travel arrangements online. Travelers spend their money on travel using sites and providers who offer choice, savings, and convenience. And increasingly that convenience means mobile devices.
How do your websites, apps, and mobile offerings stack up?
Consumers demand a cohesive experience
Julie Heighton highlighted six things travel vendors need to do to stay competitive and the first one drives the impact of the online revolution home:
Customer experience – Gone are the days when the quality of your product was the key differentiator between you and your competitors. Now you are judged on the interaction your customer has with your brand at every touchpoint. It’s absolutely crucial to take advantage of the fast growing innovation in the industry and ensure you are providing a consistent, seamless, user friendly experience at every stage of the customer journey. True customer centricity starts with thinking what will make your customer’s life easier, not your own.
"Judged on the interaction your customer has with your brand at every touchpoint" - think about that. If someone searches for flights on your app, can they review them at home later on their laptop or tablet?
Does the website remember app users preferences? Are you sending emails when they could be a push message (like "You’re booked! Your email receipt is on its way!").
Are you leveraging text messaging for reminders, offers, and customer satisfaction?
Do you answer questions only over the phone or can customers use chat apps like Facebook Messenger to get help?
Is there only one way for customers to reach you and when they reach out and do customer service reps have all customer information at hand?
These questions are at the core of not just online strategy but the growing trend of omni channel communications and marketing.
Cohesive means omni
Omni channel solutions mean your customer communications from SMS, email to voice, push and chat apps re all managed in through a centralized tool. Customer data from marketing automation and CRM tools are combined with these communications to give you a holistic picture of customer behavior and preferences. You can provide support over chat, but send an email or text message if the user is offline.
You can monitor which push messages encourage account creation and purchasing. Your data and reports come together so all members of the team can learn from them.
Most of all omni means mobile friendly. Not mobile first or mobile centric. We know that consumers use multiple devices to plan and book travel. An omni solution that gives short shrift to one device over another is a foolish as integrating SMS and chat but leaving out email. Omni means all, through one provider.