But digital services are not simply the preserve of nimble start-ups. Travel brand marketers from companies of all shapes and sizes can use technology to engage customers with relevant content before, during and after their trip. Where better to start than summer holiday season?
Earlier this year, we undertook a research project to investigate what makes the ‘connected traveller’ tick; what they want from brands and where the￼ sweet spots for marketers lie. Here’s a selection of the most interesting findings:
Digital is a staple when planning and booking holidays, but consumers are not seeing brands adding value throughout the entire trip.
A third said they want to use technology while they’re away, which presents a real opportunity for brands to contact them during their holiday.
Above all else technology must add to their experience, not detract from it – 47% want it to help them save money, 30% want to save time, and 26% want a more personalised experience.
The challenge for markets is how digital can be ‘baked’ into the elements of surprise and discovery that are the most desirable components of a holiday. the travel industry can learn from local search and discovery engines like foursquare, which provide data to recommend new experiences in geographic context.
The challenge for markets is how digital can be ‘baked’ into the elements of surprise and discovery that are the most desirable components of a holiday. The travel industry can learn from local search and discovery engines like Foursquare, which provide data to recommend new experiences in geographic context.
I struggle to get my head around why so many hotels, resorts, airports and airlines still charge for WiFi access – a whopping 69% of our survey respondents said free WiFi is top of their list for digital services they’d like brands to provide.
Having a consumer logged into your ecosystem gives you a direct link through which to serve your marketing messages. We also know holidaymakers love to share videos and photos and are happy to be brand advocates in this way, but charging extra isolates those who refuse to pay up to £10 per day for internet access.
There are plenty of other ways to improve customer experience through digital services. For instance, to help reduce queuing, provide local insight or even aggregate voucher offers for local attractions.
There are certainly digital win-win efficiencies for both holidaymakers and brands – The Walt Disney Company for example has attributed higher revenues at its Orlando theme park in part thanks to its MyMagic+wristband.
Indeed, this could be the sweet spot travel companies need to explore in order to reinvent the industry and bring useful digital services to the mass market. The sector needs a watershed moment equivalent to the 'click and collect' service that has redefined retail – something that nobody realised they needed but now can’t live without.
Our research showed consumers have high expectations from travel brands but are too often left disappointed. There’s an excellent opportunity for companies to bridge this gap by using digital technologies to create a fully connected customer experience – from furtive thoughts of next summer’s holiday right through to the moment they arrive home, and beyond.