Known to be an early adopter of digital technologies, the travel industry has paved the way for online distributions, and so it has contributed to a radical shift in consumers’ purchase behaviour. Following Google’s The 2012 Traveler Report more than 80% of travellers rely on the internet for their holiday planning and of those even two-thirds use the internet even before they have decided where they are going. Given the overriding importance of the internet for the travel industry, Maximyser has just recently published a white paper, outlining the key trends in customer behaviour and highlighting resulting opportunities for travel businesses (Maximyser 2013).
Not one size fits all
Amongst other the report emphasises the importance of aligning the content strategy to the shifting granularities in customer experiences. That is, customer attitudes are undergoing a shift away from being predominantly price driven, towards experience and sensation seeking. This change also manifests itself in the way how people search for travel products online. The advent of social media stimulates consumers to “dream” and get inspiration about travelling from their friends and colleagues, whenever holiday photos, videos and updates are shared via their networks. Hence, consumers are engaging increasingly with travel products and brands, without being in a stage of purchase decision making or active travel information seeking. In other words the customer experience is much more granular, and travel businesses need to account for this in their content offering.
Optimisation across all channels
The contemporary traveller, whose characteristics include being sophisticated, well experienced and sensation seeking; can be engaged best when the content presented reflects
- where the customer is in the travel process (dreaming, seeking inspiration, information seeking, decision making, etc);
- whether the customer is a first-time or repeat visitor;
- if the visitor is a business or leisure traveller, or both.
This customer journey needs to be adapted ideally across all channels to provide a seamless and highly relevant experience. Therefore companies need to test customers’ response to different types of content and different user paths. Adopting a culture of data-driven decision making, quantitative and qualitative analytics and the flexibility to test and prove the value of content is crucial to satisfy customers expectations and increase their lifetime value.
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