Any semi-frequent traveler knows that hotels and car rental companies recognised a long time ago which customers are responsible for the lion's share of their revenue. Those that travel for business end up travelling the most often and are the least price sensitive. They travel because they have to, not because they want to.
The pleasure traveler is all about the experience…theirs. They've typically planned their adventure well in advance, often with one or more family or friends in tow with an itinerary that includes activities and experiences. Price sensitivity rises and the value received is measures as much by what doesn't go wrong as what travel providers get right.
The rise of "bleisure" travel (combining business and pleasure) means that travel providers must be equally adept at servicing either and both in a single experience. By some reports as many as 75% of road warriors "add on" leisure days to their business travel. As a result, employers and travel planners have had to adjust their policies and service coverage to accommodate this growing trend.
There is no doubt that the massive disruption within the travel industry these days has many sources (digital, mobile and sharing economy to name just three). As travel providers race to transform themselves into modern marketing organisations, "customer centricity" becomes the end game. Huge volumes of data (gathered from such sources as social media, review sites, GPS, and travel apps), together with predictive analytics and machine learning will make mass personalisation much more of a reality.
If "customer centricity" is the Holy Grail, then modern marketing organisations within the travel industry need to ground their planning in an understanding of exactly who their customers/visitors are. Ethnographic studies can help create a handful of traveler personas or archetypes, which can help guide how content is created and delivered. Customer journey mapping identifies the pivotal touch points for the brand and identifies what content (in what format) is required at each decision point. Finally, customer LTV (lifetime value) assessments guide how and where investments should be made in nurturing and rewarding long-term loyalty.
The hurdles standing in the way of transforming your marketing organisation (cost, disruption and internal legacy issues to mention a few) may seem overwhelming at first. Begin by investing the time and energy into a forward-looking roadmap with your customer at the centre of strategic gravity and you've taken the first step towards a brighter, more effective future.
by Todd Bolin, CEO and President
Bolin Marketing, USA
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Tribe Global is a network of 32 independent agencies working together with an overwhelming passion for solving client challenges creatively, with a commercial imperative. Travelations are for travel marketers seeking global perspective, actionable insights and a business advantage. For more Travelations and for examples of our deep Tribal travel/tourism experience find us at tribeglobal.net.