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Customer loyalty in the Travel Industry

May 1, 2019

According to the American Marketing Association, the average consumer is exposed to approximately 10,000 brand mentions a day*. That is a LOT of messaging.

What’s more, companies are finding new ways to offer exciting or free alternatives, which is encouraging consumers to turn away from services they have used before in search of something better.

Even customers who are part of loyalty programs shop around on more than 3 different websites* before making a booking decision, even if they are a top tier loyalty member, which shows how little ‘loyalty’ really means for consumers these days.

All of this makes creating actual loyal customers pretty difficult.

 

The Digital Consumer looked into loyalty in the travel industry by tracking hotel and flight shopping habits on sites like Expedia and booking.com to see if customers stayed loyal to subsequent bookings. They found:

  • 80% people booked with a different hotel
  • 77% people booked with different airlines
  • 40%+ frequent fliers booked with an alternative airline.**

These numbers show that travel needs trump loyalty. If you want loyal customers in the travel industry, or any industry for that matter, you have to do more than ever before.

 

How does this impact Tour Operators?

Creating loyal customers as a tour operator is different to a lot of the travel industry, and requires new ways of satisfying customers enough that they become promoters of yours and rebook.

It’s important for these companies to create ‘regulars’ by maintaining an engaged connection with their customers. This should include: information about new trips, special deals, emotive stories, and anything else that will peak their interest.

This will keep them interested, and even if they don’t book through you again for a few years, it will keep you at the forefront of their minds, and will make them more likely to recommend you to friends and family.

When customers feel like the tour operator has gone the ‘extra mile’ for them, 61%*** of them are more likely to tell friends and family about it. This is invaluable additional promotion for your business.

So, how do you go the extra mile to create customer loyalty? Some tips below will give some useful pointers on where to start:

 

1) Understand the customer

Depending on the size of your business, it’s not always possible to have a personal relationship with each client that comes your way. There are however ways that you can start building up a better understanding about what your customers want, what they enjoyed about your company and service, and the areas in which you can improve. This makes it much easier to make changes which will resonate with your customers, and can be used in promotional material to encourage those customers to rebook.

Vamoos Solution – Customer feedback is something that can be collected really easily through Vamoos. Adding a feedback form to the documents section, and using the push notifications to encourage as many responses as possible is an invaluable way of getting this feedback.

 

2) Improve the experience

For many people, time taken off work to go on trips is the highlight of their year, and something that they have spent their hard earned money on. Whether it’s an extended weekend, or a 3 week long adventure, all travellers deserve the best experience possible. It’s not just about making sure a bottle of bubbly awaits a newly married couple in their hotel room, or that sun beds have already been reserved for a party of 10 (although things like this certainly help), but it’s about ensuring that the end to end experience is amazing, before and after the trip as well as during.

Vamoos solution – Our whole reason for being is based around the entire end to end experience, from as soon as someone has confirmed their trip, right through to returning home and thinking about their next one. Many of our customers simply send the app login details to their clients once a confirmation or deposit has been received. This is where the experience begins, as they would have instant access to their holiday countdown, all trip details, and can really start to get excited about their trip. Our extensive functionality then helps travellers during their trip, but also allows them to start browsing other trip ideas once they have returned home, ensuing the excitement and buzz of travel is constant.

 

3) Constantly evolve

In today’s world things can change quickly, and as a travel company, it is up to you to keep an eye out for what is relevant for your customers. Sustainable travel, for example, is a hot topic at the moment, and more and more people are looking for ways to offset their carbon footprint while travelling, whether that’s using less plastic, staying in more environmentally friendly accommodation, or collecting rubbish from public areas (check out #trashtag on Instagram for the latest environmental viral trend). The bottom line is – if your clients are looking for something in particular which is achievable for your business, you should make it a priority. In this example, it could be suggesting local beach cleans that clients might want to get involved in, or more public transport options instead of using private cars or boats.

Vamoos Solution – Every day we work with our customers across the globe to find out how they and their clients are using Vamoos. This information drives our development and decides what updates we make to the technology, keeping it as exciting, relevant, and as useful as possible for everyone.

 

4) Focus on customer patterns

Data is a great insight into the best time to engage with customers to encourage them to start thinking about their next holiday, in order to increase rebooking rates. If, for example, your clients are baby boomers in their 50s or 60s, we know they tend to book their holidays a year in advance****. This kind of information can be valuable insight into rebooking behaviour which encourages more rebookings.

Vamoos Solution – With Vamoos, you can access analytics which can shape your marketing strategy. Our Inspirations feature allows our customers to promote their other trips and activities within the app. Push notifications can be sent to customers after they return home from one trip to get them to think about the next. This has worked well with our customers so far – Magnetic North for example have enhanced their customer loyalty by attributing rebookings through this very feature. Read their story here.

 

Putting this into action

Creating loyal customers isn’t straight forward. What we do know, however, is that using the right travel technology can encourage customer loyalty, receive more referral business, and ultimately improve your bottom line. We recently conducted our own study on the impact Vamoos has on its customers. We found that Vamoos users are 50% more likely to rebook through the same travel company compared to travellers who did not use Vamoos. You can read the full report here.

We want you to see for yourself how Vamoos can help your business create more loyal customers, so we offer a free demo or free trial which you can sign up for here, or get in touch with the team if you have any questions.

 

*https://skift.com/2019/02/20/new-research-study-how-travel-brands-can-improve-customer-loyalty-and-manage-fickle-behavior/
**https://digitalconsumer.com/what-the-travel-industry-shows-us-about-customer-loyalty/
***https://www.tourwriter.com/uncategorized/the-importance-of-customer-loyalty-in-the-travel-industry/
****https://www.traveldailymedia.com/why-luxury-travel-shouldnt-ignore-baby-boomers/

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