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This is a viewpoint from Maria Harrison, president of Bullseye Strategy.

The technology of the travel consumer journey (part two of three)

In Episode I of this series, we saw how the consumer journey in the luxury travel industry mirrors the hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. So now let’s take a look at how you can use this parallel to achieve a primary marketing goal.

The technology of the travel consumer journey continued (part three of three)

In Episode II, we left you with a marketing conundrum. We looked at the importance of a terrific customer phone experience, but faced major troubles in how to integrate these calls with our digital marketing tactics in a way that achieves your goals.

You may be saying to yourself, “I have a bad feeling about this.” But remember, the force of great digital marketing strategy is with you. Always. So let’s get ourselves unfrozen from that devious carbonite and restore balance to the digital marketing force.

Last time, we saw that one problem marketers face in the luxury travel space is that phone calls generated from digital campaigns have been notoriously difficult to track.

But improved technology has made it much easier to acquire this crucial data. You need to be using call tracking on all of your digital campaigns. This way you can find out which media are driving calls and revenues and then shift the bulk of your spend on those channels. You can even see which particular keywords are working for you in search campaigns.

And then you must bridge the digital and physical divide.

One of the most important moments in your customer’s journey will likely be their experience with a live customer service representative if they book on the phone. The customer experience is going to be a major determinant of whether they book with you. This will also be true if they engage in chat on your website.

With inbound phone calls, you should be using call recordings to fully understand the actual customer experience. How did it drive their actual decision-making? Recording the call will show you the full picture. It will also empower you to identify which value propositions are truly resonating with prospective travelers.

Then, carve out time to listen to the calls. Ask yourself whether the experience is seamless and correlated from digital to call center, whether the agents are fully empowered to offer the customer the best deals to book, and whether they’re using the right closing techniques to secure the bookings on the call.

X-Wings & things: Cross-device tracking

During his space adventures, Luke Skywalker uses lots of different vehicles: land speeders, X-Wings, Y-Wings, the Millennium Falcon. Imagine if the Empire, trying to chase Luke down, completely lost track of him every time he switched transportation? The film might have been over pretty quickly or at least have been much less exciting.

According to GlobalWebIndex, the average US consumer logs into between three and four different devices each day.

These devices can include multiple desktops, phones, tablets – it runs the gamut. The machines will span the consumer’s workplace, home, and anywhere else they may be that day. And like Darth Vader chasing Luke, you want to be able to track your customers not just on one device but across the spectrum of devices they are using.

Use of cross-device tracking allows you to shift your focus from session-based analytics to people-based analytics. It is people, after all, and not laptops, tablets, or iPhones that purchase vacations. Making this shift allows you to have a better understanding of the entire customer journey and not just disconnected pieces of it. This will also better enable you to anticipate what information a customer needs and exactly when they will need it to finally make a purchase.

Using the Force: Lead nurture marketing

Luke Skywalker didn’t believe in the force at the beginning of Star Wars. His faith and devotion to its the powers of the force needed to be cultivated over time. Similarly, in the beginning, your potential customers won’t necessarily trust you, let alone have any faith in your powers to give them the ultimate vacation experience.

Because of this, leads will often need to be nurtured. Just as a guy usually won’t be successful when he proposes marriage on a first date, the very first time a customer visits your website won’t likely result in a sale unless they are already very familiar with your brand.

The solution to this problem is lead nurturing. Different methods can be used to cultivate your leads. One of the most effective is to use tactics like pop-up messages and specials to garner attention. These can prompt the consumer to sign up for your email list. Let them know how valuable the information you’ll be sending is. It’s kind of like seducing them to the dark side of the Force. Except you’re the good guys!

Because email is still one of the most powerful tools in the digital landscape for driving conversions, convincing customers to sign up for your email list is invaluable. After they sign up you can message them directly without those pesky Imperial Storm Troopers – also known as OTA’s – getting in the way.

The Last Jedi: Always meet the consumer where they are

It’s important to remember that the consumer will be bouncing back and forth across stages of the journey, from dreaming to planning, maybe back to dreaming, planning again, booking, planning, and then finally booking and making a purchase.

Customers will also be gathering information in a multitude of ways across various devices at work and at home. They will consult travel websites and they will chat with family and friends. They will look at prices on OTA’s whether you want them to or not.

The way to use the force to your advantage is to always meet the consumer where they are in their journey. By collecting and analyzing as much data about their journey as you can, you will be able to start anticipating probable pathways that the consumer will take.

Make sure you meet them every step of the way.

If they are dreaming and gathering information, be the one to provide them with the most relevant and educational information about their trip. If they are in the planning stage, provide them with timely promotional information that may seduce them to your side. If they are about ready to book their trip, give them every opportunity to book with you by making it simple and attractive to book with you directly – and fast! Site speed is critical to securing bookings today.

It wasn’t easy for Luke to rescue the Princess and save the galaxy, but he was able to use his Jedi powers to overcome the forces of darkness. The information you gather about your customer and the technology you can use to market to them is your Jedi powers. So, there’s only one thing left for you to do: use, the force, Luke.

Missed the first two articles in this series? Read Episode I and Episode II.

This is a viewpoint from Maria Harrison, president of Bullseye Strategy.

Tech in Travel Industry




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