It’s vital to have your customer journeys mapped out if you’re going to maximise every opportunity to increase your sales and profitability. And nowhere is that more true than in the travel industry, where income is driven primarily by low frequency but high value purchases.
With high value transactions at stake, you need to make sure that you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time to ensure you get the sale.
So with the key travel booking period on the horizon, we thought we’d share our thoughts on some of the most important components in building the perfect customer journey at each stage.
Pre-booking research stage
You need to make sure that the customer is finding you when they’re searching for their perfect trip, and timing is crucial. You need to make sure you’re maximising this opportunity to get the sale before anyone else.
Seasonality is critical. Booking rates in January can be more than three times higher than later in the year, so ensure that you’re making the most of the peak times.
Make sure you know which search terms and ads are bringing new customers to your website as opposed to existing customers.
It’s also important to understand what mix of media – such as display, PPC and search – bring in what types of customers. Track individual media paths – understand the most effective media channels, campaigns, timings, sequence and content at an individual level.
And don’t forget to make all your communications personalised. Why? Because personalisation can increase conversions by up to 40%.
When visitors come to your website, use their behaviour to understand what they are interested in to give a more unique and tailored website experience. Offering couples-only venues is wasted viewing time for those wanting family holidays.
Connect a customer’s behaviour as they move across online and offline channels to ensure you talk to them at the most relevant touchpoints. Focus on real-time decisions and personalised dialogue to drive that all important purchase.
You obviously want your previous customers to come back to you and the good news is that you already have an advantage over your competitors. You know who they are, where they travelled, when they went and what they spent.
Existing customers are much more responsive to well-timed targeted emails, so focus your valuable budget there, rather than relying on more expensive PPC spend to engage with them. And use what you know about the customer to make sure your communications are relevant and appropriate so they make their next booking with you, and not with anyone else.
The faster you can react to a customer’s interest, the better – so an individual level real-time plug-in for your website is essential. You’ll be able to see when a valuable previous customer is browsing the website – so rather than wait for that anniversary email campaign to kick in, you can target them with a relevant message right now, using everything you know about them – both online and offline.
We helped P&O Ferries ensure that their customer contact was perfectly executed for every individual customer. Click here for the video.
Make sure you welcome your new customer on board once they’ve made their booking. It’s an opportunity to not only make them feel good about their purchase, but also to provide relevant information about their trip.
With booking peaks in January driving an influx of new customers, it’s important to engage these new customers from the get go. Use a series of strategic emails with fresh, relevant content that will engage your customer and strengthen their relationship with your brand. They’ll be keen to hear from you, so take the opportunity.
It’s also an opening to introduce cross sell offers – but make sure they’re appropriate. Read on…
Cross sell campaigns
Often, selling the initial trip – whether a flight, a ferry, a cruise or a hotel – is only the start. Sales of additional extras – meals, extra leg room, excursions, wifi access, and so on – can all increase your sales as well as improving the experience for the customer.
But consider timing and content carefully. What sort of traveller is looking for extra leg room? Who might want to book excursions when they arrive? And again, communicate at the appropriate time. You don’t need – and shouldn’t try – to sell everything in go.
Virgin Atlantic increased their sales of extras by 11% by getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Read here to see how we helped them personalise the customer experience for each customer, making sure that their cross sell messages were always relevant.
The customer’s trip might be over when they get back but your customer journey isn’t.
It’s a key time to thank them for booking with you, welcome any feedback and start them thinking about next year’s – or month’s or week’s – trip.
Again, tailor your communications to your customer. If they’re annual travellers, they’re unlikely to make another booking in the very near future, but they might be ready in a few months. Or, try tempting them with a shorter weekend break in the meantime.
A well timed feedback survey can be used to understand your customers ‘share of wallet’ – and identify which customers are travelling more frequently than you might think.
Where to start your customer journey?
A well planned – and executed – customer journey can make a massive impact on your bottom line and once it’s up and running, can be run at the push of a button.
If you’d like some help in mapping out your customer journey and unearthing the opportunities, we’d love to help. To talk to one of our experts and see what they could do for you, just get in touch.
We’ll arrange a no obligation exploratory meeting where we’ll help you find the gaps in your customer journeys and will show you how to automate your marketing in real time to ensure that the right message gets to the right customer at the right time.
We’ll even be happy to come to you as long as you tell us how to get there…