For most people, gone are the days when you popped into your local travel agent on the high street to book a romantic honeymoon to Venice or a family holiday to Spain.
While the friendly smiles, tailored advice, relevant brochures and inspirational beach posters may have disappeared, the emotion involved in these purchases hasn’t. Booking a holiday is one of the most considered and emotional buys of the year, but many brands appear to have forgotten that.
Customers don’t just visit a website, check out their latest offers, and buy a holiday. Bookings happen at the end of a long, complex and unique journey that sees customers visit an average of 38 different travel sites over 45 days, according to a number of studies.
In today’s competitive landscape, travel brands have opted to go ‘all in’ on the acquisition of customers, the industry’s pay-per-click (PPC) arms race is ample evidence of that. With abandonment rates for travel brands much higher (81%) than for other retailers (61%), according to SaleCycle, this is no longer a sustainable plan.
As we approach the industry’s January sales peak, it’s the smart brands who will be looking to develop emotional connections with their customers through deeply personal experiences, rather than bringing them to the digital storefront and then forgetting about them. Here are a few things to think about when preparing for this new year peak.
Understand behaviour, not demographics
Stereotyping customers according to characteristics such as age and gender will get you nowhere. It makes it impossible to treat customers as the individuals they are.
The travel sector is in the lucky position of having customers willingly provide information about who they are and what they want from the moment they visit their website, typically through searches.
This will give a basic picture of what they’re looking for. Combine this with on site behavioural signals, historical customer data and real time feedback to identify more detailed nuances about who the customer is and what is driving them during their booking journey.