Find Your Travellers – And Understand Them
Why travel companies need to create a connected customer experience.
Travel companies have a data problem – and most don’t realise it.
In the 21st century, travel is something most consumers indulge in regularly or, at the very least, aspire to do; whether it be an automobile journey to a nearby destination or a proper world tour. Travel is something already revolutionised by technology, not only through consumer-facing online services but also, of course through innumerable, less-visible back-end processes.
However, across this diverse industry, with participants ranging from small sole proprietors to gigantic airline, hotel, and resort operations, there is still very little deep and real-time knowledge of the travel customer. Transactions are visible, but motivations, intentions, and desires are largely obscured by the lack of connectivity between systems and by other impediments to sharing and analyzing data.
This is a point of vulnerability for all travel-related businesses. They are lacking fidelity in their customer view, they are missing moment-to-moment opportunities and are more likely to miss or misunderstand longer-term changes in customers.
Of course, this is also a huge opportunity to achieve tremendous competitive advantage. How? The key is acquiring a single view of your customer’s data across all touchpoints. This can enable you to track the customer journey, both literally and figuratively.
In other words, travel and hospitality companies must create a connected customer or guest experience. Doing so requires joining the customer journey by integrating systems, unifying data and automating processes so actionable insights are delivered and triggered across businesses in real-time.
The connected customer experience is important because, these days, the customer experience has no boundaries. It can kick off with viewing or responding to an advertisement, continue on the phone or online, bleed into social media and maybe even end with a forum discussion. And, of course, it continues as people travel and continue to make decisions relating to how to spend their time and money.
This isn’t a passive process, either. People are connected all the time and the traveling customer often has expectations about finding the most relevant information at their fingertips well before and after their arrival at a particular destination. They want a friction-free experience where getting from one place to another has few or no associated inconveniences. They want information about activities that arrive at the most appropriate time and, ideally, invite interactions – interactions that lead to spending money.
Creating superior customer experiences pays off. A survey reported in Forbes found companies that made substantial investments in their customer experience over the past year are 10 times more resilient and three times more likely than their counterparts to have grown their customer base in the last six months.
The cost of not achieving a connected travel or hospitality business is high while the barriers to achieving this state are rapidly disappearing.
You can start simply, monetising existing customer data to support quick wins. Over time, you can achieve a single view of customers, which can enable you to achieve a full view of the customer’s journey, opening up the potential to grow conversions at every step.
But, the time to embark on this journey has arrived!
Fortunately, the journey doesn’t need to be long or difficult. Here are five tips to help you get started, or to help you change directions if you’re not getting the results you originally expected.
How to Build a Single Customer View
- Map the Customer Journey. This will help you visualise how customers interact with your company, across touchpoints and channels. Mapping the customer journey is an important exercise that will also enable you to identify the data sources you are currently (and not) collecting at each step in the customer journey.
- Identify Data Sources. Identifying data sources can be the most difficult aspect of consolidating data into a single customer view (SCV). Widely dispersed data sources across disjointed systems and departmental-specific tools are just some of the roadblocks. Even if your business is using the same enterprise platform, not everyone is pulling the same data, or you face poor data quality such as multiple customer records.
- Ingest and Cleanse Data. Once all of the data sources have been identified, the next step is to collect and cleanse. Data ingestion funnels customer information from various sources such as sales records, booking systems, loyalty programs, website analytics, point-of-sale, and CRMs into a single customer profile.
- Apply Analytics to Generate Insight. Single customer views can be analysed on multiple levels to determine industry trends, marketing successes, and customer engagement. Tools like customer satisfaction surveys or loyalty program data can also be analysed to determine where your sales and marketing resources are working and where they aren’t. Because SCVs are company-wide, different parts of your business can run analysis on what is vital to them and the resulting insights shared.
- Act on Insights. Now that you have one version of the truth, your travel or hospitality business can use data a currency. Insights from customer data can be used to hone your marketing and sales efforts and create loyal customers through hyper-personalised customer engagement campaigns, as well as answer important questions that will drive forward the growth of your business, such as “who are my most profitable customers?” By acting on insights, you will also start to create a data-led business.
Data from connected customer experiences is a must-have today for successful travel and hospitality companies. Those that embrace this new world are able to anticipate future demand more accurately, optimise pricing strategies, target marketing more precisely, better manage brand reputation, and improve the customer experience.
Chief Marketing Officer
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