Travel and hospitality companies have a difficult job. There is huge market pressure to make great deals. Enormous budget airline brands and luxury hotel chains alike are seeing increased competition. Top-rated airlines like JetBlue have managed to combine reasonable prices with quality service and experience. But even these leading travel brands can do better. Forbes reported that Airlines have never risen above the bottom 20% of industries in terms of customer satisfaction ratings, even as J.D. Power reported higher consumer satisfaction than ever – largely due to increased seat sizes and cheaper fares. Things are improving for the travel industry, but the biggest multipliers of customer satisfaction seem largely to be left behind.
Furthermore, travel businesses need to better understand and react in real-time to the needs of their customers. To accomplish this, they need to better manage their customer journeys. We’ve put together three powerful use cases, one for airlines, one for hotels, and one that any travel company can put into use, each utilizing a different capability within the customer journey space.
Power Pre-flight Communications With Real-Time Interaction Management
We recently wrote about a negative preflight communication experience, but to summarize, airlines and other travel companies often fail to track the full range of potential customer interactions. When a customer completes a booking experience, it can trigger a negative reaction if the airline implies they have not yet finalized their purchase. Traditional messaging from airlines has been broad-strokes driven, trying to catch the most people to ensure the most tickets sold. The issue is that creating poor experiences for passengers can lead to their defection, poor reviews, and serious public complaints.
To solve this problem, airlines should use real-time interaction management(RTIM) to track each customer across time and determine the next best experience for them. What makes RTIM different from traditional messaging is context. Contextual relevance drives customer engagement. In this case, it furthers the chances that a flyer will make additional purchases. While a blanket message can make sense in some contexts, we know that customers prefer personalized messages. An example of a contextually relevant message would be pulling in weather data for a customer’s destination and recommending them a rental car with heated seats if it was going to be extremely cold. It’s a simple and subtle change, but it could make all the difference.
Personalize Based On Past Behavior to Drive Loyalty
Too often, when interacting with travel brands and hotels, they don’t seem to know who you are unless you’re a member of their rewards program. This makes sense in some capacity. Customers who are most willing to share information are often members of the loyalty system already. Unfortunately, when a customer doesn’t see the value of booking a package or simply searches for the cheapest rate around, this pushes them to an often inferior experience. This despite the fact that 76% of customers tell us that they would be likely or extremely likely to sign up for a brand’s loyalty program if the brand tailored information and experiences based on past behavior. If hotels, airlines, and other transportation/hospitality businesses could drive new personalized sales for with non-loyalty members, everyone would benefit.
The good news is that for a well-equipped brand, personalizing for unknown visitors is hardly an obstacle. There is a world of data that customers share every time they interact. Whether it’s informing future email campaigns, or offering retroactive rewards, travel businesses can use data based on past behavior to build new better experiences.
Use Proactive Communication and Personalization To Make Every Customer Feel Like a VIP
The check-in process for customers has been streamlined and made simple. This is a good thing in many ways, not least of which is that people don’t like waiting in queues. But this doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice attentiveness when making a customer feel valued. At a hotel check-in, there is almost always a look-up-and-confirm process before checking them in. Consider instead if a loyalty member could indicate they want their phone to alert the hotel when they’re approaching. This way the front-desk can be ready with the photo, key, and room assignment information. Imagine If a customer is flying in from out-of-state, sending housekeeping to the room when their plane lands so that they can check in early and with no wait. A valued customer could even use this system to request their room be ready at a specific time.
With the right technology, all of this and more is possible, especially for members of a loyalty program. So many people want to make an impulsive weekend trip when the price is right. When there are many vacancies, why not send a custom message to members who particularly enjoy a certain region? The success rate for your messaging will surely shoot up. By using journey tracking to identify who responds, who travels to what locations, and who follows what paths through the journey, you can drive business success.
Customer Journey Tracking Works
When your customers feel listened to, when they feel like the Most Valuable Player, everyone wins. You ensure your customers are more loyal and they have better experiences. We know customers will pay more for a better experience, and Kitewheel’s experience has shown that these investments pay for themselves. Whether you’re just starting out with customer journeys, or if you are already comfortable in the journey space – there are always ways to improve.
To benchmark yourself against others in your industry, why not see how you compare with what Kitewheel found in the State of the Customer Journey 2018? You’ll learn from our years of experience orchestrating journeys, performing journey analytics, and walk away with valuable insights into how you can make your journey practice soar.