Travel firms that don’t invest in trying to drive customer loyalty are probably spending more money acquiring them online.
While competition on price is unlikely to go away, customer experience will become increasingly important.
That’s according to Sergio Iacobucci, Qubit senior associate strategist, who cited Disney’s MagicBand as an example of good practice.
“A lot of people are saying brand loyalty is dead, that there are no true advocates,” he said.
“In my view, that’s not the case, it’s just a lot of companies have given up giving true customer experience. But the cost of providing that just goes into other areas of marketing such as reacquiring customers.”
Iacobucci quoted a Forrester Research finding that suggests two-thirds of customers switch brands because they have experienced poor customer service.
And he said it is often the little, inexpensive things that make the difference, as long as they are considered as offering value by the customer and are relevant.
“To retain customers you don’t need to offer mass discounts. It’s the small things you can offer along the way,” he added.
Iacobucci said the big topic in online retailing is the development of a ‘single customer view’, which is a representation of the data known by a company about its customers.
“Having a single customer view allows you to merge your digital experience with an offline experience and make it feel like a human touch,” he said.
“At this sort of scale, large brands need to use that data to allow them to do that.”
AI tipped to have profound impact on booking breaks
The next generation of intelligent technology will replicate the sort of human conversations that travel agents have with clients.
“Fully conversational” artificial intelligence could have a profound impact on the booking process, according to Brennon Williams, chief executive of Iridium Systems and Robotics Corporation.
It will allow systems to take account of circumstance and meaning beyond just the words used. It will evaluate voice pitch and rhythm, and facial recognition to determine context.