The summer season is officially underway, which means across the country, travelers are doing their best to get around without the usual hiccups. Between flight delays and cancellations and the endless research conducted to find “the very best deal possible,” it’s no wonder travelers sometimes need a vacation from their vacation.
While there are many customer experience-focused ways to improve how consumers interact with the travel industry, mobile devices and social networks have given travel and leisure companies more ability than ever before to improve the user journey – both physically and online. Here at EPiServer, we recently developed a free informative whitepaper aimed at providing practical advice on where travel and leisure companies should focus their efforts when it comes to mobilizing, socializing, and personalizing the travel journey for consumers.
Of note, customer conversion is a marathon, not a sprint
With more than half of travel researched and/or booked online today, travel and leisure retailers need to sell an experience that starts from the moment a traveler arrives at their site and extends the experience across all potential channels with which customers may choose to engage. Even after the sale, there are still plenty of opportunities to engage customers during their travel. Mobile apps and mobile-optimized sites play a crucial role when customers are on-the-go, extending convenience and building brand reputation. Apps and mobile sites should be context- and location-driven, providing useful information to business and leisure travelers throughout the course of their journey.
For example, according to a recent Trip Advisor survey, nearly half of all fliers now use a smart phone to check flight status, up 30 percent from last year; and 30 percent of fliers report using a smart phone to check-in before a flight, up 13 percent from last year’s survey. As mobile becomes a customary part of a traveler’s repertoire, travel and leisure companies will have to consider yet another medium with which to engage with customers. And like mobile, social visibility is also becoming an increasingly important part of driving online traffic. A growing number of referrals to travel retailer sites are coming from social media. Additionally, online reviews, ratings and recommendations are often the deciding factor for influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions.
The 3 I’s are the keys to engagement
I recently read an interesting report by Forrester Research that touches on this topic and discusses why its 3 I’s: Inspiration, Individualism, and Immediacy, will allow brands to better empower their travelers and improve the user journey to ultimately win over customers. The report, also cited in our whitepaper says that Inspiration is coming from high-quality pictures, video, and user generated content which provide sources of inspiration for travelers looking for their next vacation. Travel and leisure companies should be sure their mobile sites allow for multimedia and social connections that can make a difference in the traveler’s user experience.
The concept of Individualism as defined by Forrester shouldn’t come as a surprise. These days, custom curation and personalization are essential to any successful marketing strategy. Leveraging social and location based smart phone features to create a personalized online experience for a mobile user can make or break a traveler’s buying decision.
Today, Immediacy is what customers are really looking for. In a world where instant gratification is the only kind of gratification, travelers’ expectations need to be personalized across all channels. A personalization strategy can get the right information and offers to your customers at the right time, while recalling their preferences for convenience and a better online experience.
Ultimately, the customer experience comes down to reaching the right customers at the right time with the right information, be it in travel or any industry. Mobilizing, socializing, and personalizing content have become essential elements of any strategic online initiative.