We help our clients by taking the time to really understand their sector.
By attending trade shows, hosting networking events and opening up meaningful conversations, we have built our very own travel, leisure and tourism community. This means we can actively explore the challenges within the industry and also the travellers, holidaymakers and day trippers that use their services.
Here are some of the challenges they face.
Gaining loyalty is a challenge that the industry focuses on heavily. It’s easy to spot overt offerings within the industry that are used to gain frequent custom. Airlines use air miles and hotels push price guarantees. Tourist attractions tempt return day-trippers with discounted rates and leisure attractions offer exclusive perks to those with memberships. However, for most businesses, a returning customer base is more complex to achieve.
The key to gaining loyalty is about offering real value- not the lowest price. Many businesses within the industry do not take the time to uncover what is valuable to their customers.
Gaining loyalty means offering different things to different personas. For example, a business traveller will look at price but they will also value aspects such as location, connectivity and ease. To win this booking, a hotel must offer something that addresses these issues. CitizenM gets it right, offering a ‘home away from home.’ Business travellers can embrace modern living spaces with super-fast Wifi, 24-hour access to great coffee and book a purpose built room for their client meetings. These extra touches, communicated in the right way, are likely to win a booking from a business traveller over price alone.
Tailoring your approach to gaining loyalty relies on establishing an emotional connection with your customers on an individual level. It’s about connecting data and your customers and then taking the time to validate what attracts your customer to your brand in the first place.
Here at Reckless, our Strategy & Consultancy service will help you to delve deeper into your customer base. How? We actually try the experience or service for ourselves. We speak directly to the customers and ask them about all aspects of their buying journey. This enables us to create a true snapshot of the customer, their expectations and their experiences. It allows us to see if the data is correct and if it goes deep enough when it comes to offering a personalised experience.
The first approach you might think of is creating a sense of urgency. While tactics used by sites such as Booking.com spring to mind, they, along with 5 other hotel booking sites have been given until September 2019 to end their use of pressure-selling. Instead of creating a sense of uncomfortable urgency, you should look to minimise the doubts that a potential customer might have and remove the barriers to making a booking.
Here are some other areas to focus on when it comes to getting customers to convert online.
Inspire and create desire during the planning process
Before booking, most consumers will conduct research into the service or product type they are considering. It is critical that businesses understand where and how their customers are searching for information. By taking the time to explore the research stage of the customer buying process, you can ensure that your brand is not only visible but influential.
A great example of using content to influence the decision-making process is easyJet’s new look and book feature launched last year. It allows potential holiday-makers to book their trip by uploading an image of a destination that they like into the easyJet app. Daniel Young, Head of Digital experience at easyJet, said: “Look&Book will help people to further explore Europe with ease and open up new destinations and previously hidden holiday locations for a range of customers. It’s fantastic how technology is enabling us to enhance and streamline the customer search and booking experience.”
Be aware of social proofing
Travel consumers collate a range of information before making a decision and social proofing is part of that process.
Reviews, photographs and real-time reactions are shared across forums and social media channels for all to see. Travellers, holidaymakers and daytrippers trawl through this type of content during the research phase of the booking process to gain insight on the destination, product or service. There are ways in which businesses within the travel, leisure and tourism sector can influence how their brand is perceived. For example:
Build and implement a social media strategy that captivates the target audience
Encourage customers to write testimonials and reviews
Work with relatable influencers within the sector to promote their brand
Positive comments about a brand work to build trust with new audiences, meaning that they are less likely to delay the booking process because they feel confident in the company they are purchasing from. Needless to say, businesses can only achieve brand positivity online by delivering memorable customer experiences from beginning to end, across all touchpoints.
Make the booking process simple
Once a customer has chosen their holiday, theme park tickets or boat cruise, all they need to do is checkout and it’s job done. Right?
It sounds easy but the real work begins when the customer enters the booking funnel, and businesses need to work hard to achieve those conversions. The current industry average for checkout abandonment is 69.89%, that’s over 2/3rds of highly motivated customers who are exiting the funnel for potentially something as trivial as an unclear CTA. So what can we do to improve the user experience at checkout?
Serve the customer with the right information at the right point. Consider a common form on your booking form such as payment information. All forms consist of easy (low barrier to fill in) fields such as ‘Name’ and hard (high barrier to fill in) fields such as ‘Card Number’ or ‘CVV’. We need to ensure that the low barrier fields appear first in the user journey in order to discourage abandonment.
There are a number of reasons for this. As human beings, we have an inert desire to finish things that we begin. Presenting easy to fill in fields first, starts this process and motivates the customer to complete it.
Secondly, if the user has committed to starting the process they have spent time and effort to do so. Leaving at this point means they will have lost this time they put in and as mentioned earlier, consumers perceive loss greater than gains which can be a motivator to continue. In some instances, if the user has spent a great deal of effort this motivation to avoid loss can even go against logic (e.g. the loss at the end of the process may be greater). This is known as the ‘Sunk cost fallacy’. If you’ve ever booked a flight where you were drawn in by a low initial price but ended up paying much more than you set out to you may be familiar with this technique.
These are just two of the challenges faced by brands within the travel, leisure and tourism industry. If you’re looking for more insight into the industry, why not listen to our webinar?