Two decades ago, the Internet revolutionized travel. For travel agents, airlines and intermediaries, this created new challenges regarding customer retention.
Technological advancement has allowed customers to book their own flights, accommodation, and excursions. Now, travelers can research the best bars, restaurants and tourist attractions from the comfort of their own home, in transit, or in-destination. Furthermore, the sharing economy has created even more choice in the travel market, particularly appealing to travelers on a budget.
This wealth of choice creates significant challenges for the travel industry. In a market where price is usually the primary product differentiator – as opposed to service or brand awareness – companies can find customer retention challenging.
However, whilst the Internet presents obstacles, it also presents an incredible opportunity. Much like the wider e-commerce sector, the travel industry has an enormous reservoir of customer data at its disposal. This data allows companies to meet customer retention challenges head on – creating a unique, personalized customer experience that will keep clients coming back. Here, we discuss how an organization can utilize data to increase customer retention.
The vast majority of booking activity occurs via online channels. As a result, companies can monitor and analyze all interactions: search requests, results, and behavior, even if the activity does not lead to a sale. By collecting and analyzing this valuable data, companies can improve inventory, products and marketing strategy – thus increasing conversions.
Many travel giants have become experts in the analysis of customer behavior and booking data. This intelligence is used to create special offers and targeted promotions. When a customer converts, this gives companies access to a wealth of information, allowing them to curate personalized marketing content to improve customer retention rates.
For example, Easyjet is using historic booking data to promote customer engagement. Personalized marketing content is created using departure locations, average spend, vacation type and dates. The resulting tailor-made e-marketing campaign contains a clear call to action buttons, allowing customers to easily make repeat bookings.
According to a 2015 Phocuswright study for TripAdvisor, 79% of customers read between 6–12 reviews across 4–10 websites before finalizing their travel plans. Considering the influence of sites like TripAdvisor, travel agents, airlines and hotel groups are recognizing the value of customer-generated content like reviews. Subsequently, companies are encouraging customers to leave reviews and creating facilities to display them via their online channels.
For instance, a follow-up email after a customer’s flight or visit soliciting reviews is a common strategy. One-click review requests such as a simple star-rating are a straightforward way to collect constructive feedback and useful data. As such, companies can act on this information to increase customer retention.
The travel industry is pioneering how customers interact with their products and services via mobile devices. Companies are developing mobile sites and apps that promote simple, frictionless booking. As confidence in security and privacy is increasing, travel companies can gain valuable insights into customer behavior. Data collected from mobile devices can help companies to streamline their online booking process, whilst tailoring marketing content to individual behavior.
Deloy data to increase customer retention
There is a myriad of information in data generated by customers. This information can allow the travel industry to make informed decisions about marketing, sales, and loyalty. As the sector sees disruptors like Airbnb and Skyscanner gain a great market share, it is crucial that other companies stay up-to-date with digital developments. By utilizing this information to create a personalized user experience, companies can stay relevant in a turbulent time.