Extending the Customer High

The 5 Stages of a Travel Communications Strategy: Extending the "Customer High"

18.06.20

Extending the "customer high” with an immersive communications journey can drive unprecedented engagement and revenue opportunities.

It might come as a big surprise but recent research shows that the highest “travel high” customers experience is at the point of booking. This indicates that the post-booking and pre-departure “journey” is a whole experience in itself. And one that if capitalised on, can create unprecedented engagement

and revenue from up-sales, repeat sales, and recommendations. In order to realise such benefits, travel businesses need to look at fully immersing the customer in a communications journey that’s as unique as the customer, from point of booking right through to their return home.

Let’s take a look at how companies are currently managing their travel communications strategy. We’ll consider capabilities and constraints, and how they can optimise the customer experience throughout the communications journey.

Stage 1: 'Informing Customers' with the Customer Reservation System (CRS)

Using the standard documents and emails produced by a CRS is generally the first stage and standard practice for many travel companies, to confirm essential transactional information to customers.

While CRS systems are designed for managing complex customer reservations, they are not built for meeting today’s complex customer communication requirements. A CRS fulfils the mandatory communication requirements – producing print-ready documents and sending PDF versions by email. However, they will generally be text-based and not designed for mobile devices. And with little to basic branding support, its output is often simplistic in presentation. But what are the implications?

Imagine your customers feelings at the point of booking. After being inspired by your stunning website and swept away by beautiful imagery, they may have been transported to the end destination through video - tempting them to go ahead and book in a state of heightened excitement. They then receive booking documentation that resembles an insurance document of yester-year – potentially attached to an equally unexciting email. The result? A disjointed brand experience and according to recent research, a deflated customer at the most crucial stage of their booking journey.

The documentation and communications customers should be receiving should look and feel every bit as exciting as what they experienced prior to the booking stage. They should be personalised and relevant, and completely aligned with your branding and the product your customer has purchased. Anything less and you could be crashing your customers’ “travel high”. This could mean losing their potential and valuable advocacy, and pushing them straight into the welcoming arms of your competitor next time around.

Print-ready output

PDF documents

Plain text emails

Email and print only

Text-based content

Simple presentation

Stage 2: 'Filling the Gaps' with a dedicated Email Marketing System (EMS)

The rapid take-up of the EMS comes as no surprise with the specific transactional focus of a CRS. Although generally adopted for new customer acquisition, an EMS excels in producing image-rich email communications. Consequently, it provides a quick-to-implement solution to fill the gaps between basic transactional communications, with some colour and inspirational content. However, the “campaign” approach of an EMS is also its constraining factor.

Limited to working with a subset of customer data, the resultant emails are personalised on high-level data and look very obviously to the recipient as marketing-oriented. This exposes them as being campaign-driven using a one-for-all approach. And in a world where 90% of consumers report feeling positively towards firms who treat them like an individual, this will likely miss the mark and may generate high levels of unsubscribes and opt-outs. This lack of relevance is what leads companies towards looking at a Customer Data Platform.

Mobile-friendly emails

Rich media support

Engagement tracking

Limited integration

Modest personalisation

Campaign driven

Stage 3: 'Delivering Personalisation' by adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

By simplifying and centralising the collation of customer data from a multitude of systems, a CDP can provide a unified, single view of the customer. Being able to then interpret this data and build customer profiles (personas) provides a higher level of context for an EMS. Travel businesses taking this approach can drive more advanced segmented and customer-aligned campaigns. The problem is they remain generally email based.

The next challenge is then taking this customer profile capability and delivering a multi-channel experience. To be able to extend beyond the siloed marketing system and manage the transactional documentation from a CRS would provide the biggest advantage.

Improved personalisation

Automated integration

Single customer view

Resource intensive

Persona targeted

Digital channels only

Stage 4: 'Joining the Journey' with Customer Communications Management (CCM)

In a bid to deliver a multi-channel customer experience, many travel businesses are looking to implement an end-to-end customer communications journey using a CCM system. Built to be application agnostic to flexibly integrate with any application, a CCM can create automated communication journeys that cover both online and offline channels. Incorporating rich and relevant imagery can help create documents and communication that’s personalised to each customer.

Delivering a more personalised experience with a CCM can go a long way to achieving customer expectations, and generating additional revenue from up-sales. And where using an EMS (with or without a CDP) has the potential to drive unsubscribes, implementing a CCM system can achieve the opposite and prevent unsubscribes.

That said, while businesses at this stage of the communications strategy are well on their way to strengthening customer engagement through a more coherent customer journey, greater opportunities can be easily realised...

Print and digital output

Extended integration

Unified customer journey

Cross industry solution

Not designed for travel

Shoe-horning into travel

Stage 5: 'The Immersive Experience' with the TravelComms platform

Implementing an immersive customer journey extends a customer’s “high”, from booking their dream trip through to the physical experience of travel, enjoying time at their destination and right the way through to their return home. This turns customer engagement into deep customer immersion.

TravelComms, the only immersive travel communications platform, has been designed and built in partnership with - and specifically for - the travel industry.

Much like a CDP, TravelComms can aggregate customer data and additional associated content from multiple systems, whether on-premise or in the cloud. The difference is that TravelComms uses actual customer data – instead of an assumed customer persona from an artificial intelligence (AI) system or user profiling – to deliver a uniquely individual customer journey and experience. This real-time data analysis defines the documents and communications sent, their formats (paper or electronic), along with the timing of when they are sent.

Managing all aspects of the transactional and non-transactional journey (we call them experiential rather than marketing), TravelComms negates the need for an EMS and CDP. It perfectly interfaces with all aspects of a travel company’s technology stack to deliver an uncompromising, best-in-class communications experience for customers that exceeds expectations. This helps build trust, and ultimately boosts your bottom-line. The only constraint? Your imagination.

Built for travel industry

Data-driven processing

Dynamic-based journeys

Your
creativity!

Ready to start delivering a superior customer experience with an automated, dynamic, and fully immersive communication journey? Get in touch for a free demo tailored and branded for your business.