David Falcon explores why improving the customer journey and user experience is the new priority for travel organisations.
Companies within the global travel sector have identified the improvement of these two digital elements as their main priority for the next 12 months.
The evidence is revealing. According to a report presented by Euromonitor International, nearly 60% of global travel businesses will be putting their efforts into improving both their customer journey and user experience.
In terms of countries, China is the nation with the highest amount of travel companies seeking to achieve this development, showing a percentage (69%) that surpasses the global average.
The second country whose companies are keener to design an improved customer journey is the US (61%). Other powerful markets like Germany and the UK share percentages slightly over 50%.
A relevant piece of information can be extracted from Euromonitor International’s report. The sector is responding to the negative impacts of the pandemic through innovative strategies, and the growth of elements that increase overall consumer satisfaction is capital.
In terms of commerce development for the next 12 months, the improvement of customer journey and user experience is highlighted by travel organisations.
Other developments like integrating new technologies, providing information to clients about COVID-19, creating a consistent brand experience across channels, and co-creating new products and services with costumers will also remain important for travel companies.
Creating loyal customers
Nowadays, as the travel industry immerses itself even more in a digital environment, the relevance of customer experience grows as well.
With thousands of different options to choose from, customers pay more attention to brand’s aspects before making a purchase. Therefore, travel organisations have within customers their best asset to keep business growth while increasing their brand awareness in the current uncertain times.
It just takes an outstanding experience, supported by innovative user-friendly systems and improved steps along the customer’s journey, for travellers to be loyal to companies and most importantly, to keep organisations sustainable while advocating for their brands.
User-friendly websites and apps
But, how can companies design a remarkable experience for their clients?
Apart from the well-known steps of coming up with a customer journey map, asking and acting on feedback or building a community, organisations need to work on every stage of the journey.
These actions are critical in the current market where more and more travel companies are going online, therefore their efforts should focus on building commercial relationships with their clients through digital channels.
To achieve this, the websites and apps need to be user-friendly, adapted to phones, and intuitive. By developing this, customers will reach their goal easier while companies secure loyalty to their brands.
There are some pressing challenges though
Many organisations have little understanding of what the customer journey is all about. However, research shows that nearly 90% of customers are willing to spend more in return for a great experience.
This, of course, includes travel products and services. Companies need to adapt fast to this trend, taking into consideration that not even 40% of them have a specific procedure that enables them to map out the customer journey.
Due to its importance, the customer journey should be drawn from the customer’s perspective, not the organisation’s. Also, direct feedback from customers should be used in order to optimize their journey.
Travel businesses that succeed in doing so are likely to receive benefits ranging from bigger cross-selling to improved service costs and greater returns of marketing investments.
After mapping it out, companies aiming to find new ways to improve the customer journey will have to start by reviewing its 7 phases. From the out-of-market stage to the purchase decision, to the loyalty phase. Each one of them, despite having its own features, refers to the customer coming in direct contact with the company’s travel products and services.
This interaction may be before purchasing (through social media, reviews, or word of mouth), along with purchasing (either in a store or a via website) or after purchasing (by e-mail marketing or billing).
Touchpoints, touchpoints, touchpoints
One of the top factors of future digital initiatives included in the customer journey’s improvement is mapping the customer touchpoints. When doing so, companies need to address their customers with the right content as well as distribution channels.
Finally, each businesses strategy should be matched with the resulting map that has been drawn. This is the main priority that travel organisations will be striving for during the coming year.
Other technologies will help to achieve this development. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet of things, augmented reality, personalisation marketing, and user-generated content, are just some examples of areas that will be brought into improving the customer journey and experience user for customers.
The global travel sector is resilient and has always overcome any crises within its uncertain environment. Forced by the pandemic to undertake an even quicker digital transformation, the travel and tourism sector seeks to regain consumer confidence and trust in destinations by improving its relationship with customers through an innovative customer journey.