The travel industry has had its toughest time on record in the past two years, with the global sector posting a loss of $4.5 trillion in 2020.
From the total collapse of all travel at the start of the pandemic to the uncertainty of its return, customer attitudes are more dubious than ever.
The lack of travel has contributed to changing customer expectations. Moving away from financial savings and prioritizing travel confidence, people now want to know exactly what will be needed to travel.
Communicate confidence and reassurance
Restoring customer trust is now at the heart of the travel industry.
The lack of movement during the pandemic has changed the whole purpose and meaning of travel for many people, adding further value to the experience.
Chris Algar, Head of Owned and Earned Media at Sykes Holiday Cottages said it well:
“You’re selling someone the best two weeks of their year. They will not make this decision quickly.
“People are not expected to go online and book immediately. There are often multiple touchpoints, devices and people involved. No trip is the same and we recognize this in our marketing.
With the number of disruptions and cancellations experienced by users, expectations have seen a huge shift and businesses have been forced to adapt.
In Babble’s recent travel survey, 64% of companies cited communicating with customers as their primary post-crisis business goal.
The Changing Landscape for Businesses and Customers
Travel has seen many significant changes over the past two years. Along with the sanctification of recreational travel, the rise of remote working has also brought about big changes in the way customers think about travel.
Recognizing the repeat commuting patterns for meetings and office visits, travel and hospitality companies have begun offering discounted memberships in an effort to build customer loyalty.
“People have moved away from their offices. Instead of working and living in New York, you work in New York and live in Austin or Miami,” noted former Citizen M business manager Lennert De Jong.
“It’s not like you go to a new city and go to Booking.com to find a new place to stay. You do the same thing, every time.
“These now-commonplace weekly, monthly, or fortnightly visits to the office and meetings have created a new breed of ‘super commuters’,” to quote De Jong.
“When we noticed this, we started working on subscriptions. We give a subscription to a client who travels to London maybe every week.
“We can work out a deal where you’ll still get 10% off your hotel, guarantee a room and offer free late checkout.”
Launching the evolution of the industry in technology and automation, the rise of easy, contactless and automated transactions has started to become commonplace in various industries.
Businesses continue to follow suit as more and more transactions become more digital with QR codes and embedded check-ins now expected across the industry.
The changing data privacy landscape has also been a catalyst for the shift to automated processes in recent years.
The decline of third-party cookies has sparked new ways to track and analyze data that we explore and cover what marketers need to know in Search Laboratory. recent podcast.
The digital maturity solution
The evolution of the value of travel goes hand in hand with the nature of purchases considered in the industry.
Customer journeys are often shared across multiple stakeholders, devices, and browsers, making it increasingly difficult to track users.
As cookies decrease and the number of privacy regulations increase, getting closer to your audience and their behaviors is paramount.
The solution to this seemingly insurmountable problem requires a business to embark on a digital maturity journey.
Many companies focus on building a cookie-based econometric model when the changing digital landscape calls for a more dynamic, data-driven approach.
This is an important step and a process that will develop gradually over time. It’s about linking the data collected along the user’s journey and attributing to those points to develop a picture of your audience.
Starting small and scaling up in complexity is the key to scaling your strategy. Taking reasonable and manageable steps to centralize your data is key to staying ahead of the competition and pivoting your strategy toward a more sustainable solution for the future of marketing.
The goal is to create a solution that not only attributes value to the entire user journey, but dynamically values that individual user based on their specific attributes and behaviors.
Rather than attributing a sale solely to a dated request or brochure request, it’s about evolving your strategy into a dynamic paragon using multiple touchpoints to predict future success using individual user behaviors.
Once you begin to assess each prospect based on the individual and their unique behaviors, this greater understanding allows you to see the true value of products and their performance, naturally creating opportunities to optimize your digital marketing investments towards most valuable products.
Google’s Digital Maturity Benchmark Report segments the maturity journey into nascent, emerging, connected, and multi-point categories, essentially unlocking a deeper understanding of the customer journey as you move up the curve.
The report also found that more than 80% of the most digitally mature brands say they benefit from CEO sponsorship for data-driven marketing initiatives.
Speaking about the success of Sykes Cottages rebounding from the pandemic with record bookings, Algar noted: “We pride ourselves on being data driven. Everything we do is based on research and data.
You can learn more about how to scale your digital marketing strategy in Search Laboratory’s new white paper “Upper Funnel Attribution and Predictive Value Research in the Travel Industry”.