Fragmentation of the online travel customer journey – how to reconnect the dots

Fragmentation of the online travel customer journey – how to reconnect the dots

February 6, 2019 Graham Tricker Leave a Comment
Identity Resolution, Personalisation

When booking a holiday, how long do you typically spend researching your destination and what offers are available?

That long?…

There are a plethora of platforms you can use when it comes to shaping the ‘perfect’ holiday experience. This is exactly what shopping for a holiday should be – an exciting experience that takes planning, inspiration, reviews, opportunities and research. However, with this high level of customer interaction comes a wealth of data that is increasingly used by travel brands to further enhance their digital journey.

Digital has been a prominent part of the travel industry for many years. This is shown through research conducted by Econsultancy which revealed that 83% of modern customers are booking their holidays online or through online travel agents, instead of through high street branches. This presents a problem for the typical travel marketer: There is an overload of potential touchpoints to monitor for insights, simply because of the wide variety of travellers and their individual holiday preferences.

Customer empowerment and optimising omnichannel

No matter how many customers look at the same destination for their holiday, there will always be one aspect which will make each experience different. It is all about their individual preference – are they looking for a cheap budget holiday, a special occasion or an all-inclusive package? The sheer amount of variation and engagement means it is crucial that brands monitor all customer touchpoints, across all platforms, simultaneously – or risk their valued customers veering off the beaten track to a competitor.

Travel customers expect that their digital service should be similar to that of retail, with a seamless and convenient online experience. However, with the amount of variation and choice within the travel sector there is very little brand loyalty, with 88% saying that they will switch to another site if their digital experience doesn’t satisfy their needs. Those needs demand a recognition of their preferences.

More devices, more often

As well as switching brands, customers are constantly using different devices to search and book their holidays. Mobile has become an increasingly used tool for holiday research, with 40% of customers using this to search for flights and accommodation. However, when booking, this then drops to 21% as customers switch to their desktops. As customers are now changing devices more frequently, travel brands need to manage these effectively too, to provide a more seamless omnichannel view.

People want personalisation

Adding another plate to the travel marketers’ spinning tricks, travel brands need to truly tap into their customers’ needs and enhance their buying journey. By reviewing their entire personalised experience, from how they were previously targeted, to how they are currently targeted and what can be learnt from this, brands can start to paint a much more rounded view.

In today’s world segmentation is no longer enough – customers want personalisation. However, there is a significant gap between the expectation and reality here: 67% of customers want travel brands to personalise their communications, and only 44% believe that the communications they receive are good. There is clearly something missing and there needs to be a more streamlined way of making sure the personalised messages reach the right people, across the most appropriate platforms.

The solution

Identity resolution has the means to bridge the gap between customers’ digital needs and expectations and how travel brands can deliver against them. With the vast number of platforms and channels being used, brands need to connect these touchpoints to understand what motivates their customers, in order to provide a more tailored service.

It is not that travel brands are using their digital data in the wrong way, they just need to use it more efficiently. Identity resolution will provide more clarity on what customers want from their favourite brands when it comes to their individual preferences. They will be able to identify the best platform to target customers and provide the most appropriate personalised messages accordingly. If the holiday preference of the customer changes, brands will be able to adjust the personalised messages which are being pushed out, making the fragmented customer journey whole again.

Find out more about how identity resolution can help travel brands to personalise their customer engagement.