Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Becoming a Customer-Centric Travel Company – The Key to Success in 2013?

Yesterday I went along to WTM and attended the opening presentation from Barry Gibbons, CEO, Burger King.   Barry was responsible for rescuing the ailing burger chain and did so by putting the consumer back at the heart of the business.

He mentioned the importance, (although he loathes the term,) of being a ‘customer-centric’ company.    In his view ‘only those who truly know how to make a connection with their customers will succeed in this hugely competitive space’.

So how can we apply this to the travel space?  Economic turmoil combined with new communication devices and social influence mean that customers are now spending more time in the research phase of the path to purchase.  If you can impress customers at this stage then it goes without saying that you will be more likely to win new business.

As customers become more and more tech savvy they can be harder to impress but according to EyeforTravel’s Travel Consumer Report 2012-13, 54% of intermediaries and 50% of suppliers do not even have a mobile version of their website.  With few brands having such basics, does impressing the travel consumer need to be so hard?

Whilst mobile bookings remain low, it is becoming more and more apparent that the customer is accessing travel sites via mobile and tablet devices at the research phase (and then purchasing via a desktop).   

The fact is if you’re not there then your competitor will be.  If you have a mobile and tablet friendly version of our website (note that these are 2 different things!) then you are half way to wowing your customer.

Then there’s the issue of social media, not only does user generated content influence the consumer’s decision to purchase, it can also provide you with a wealth of data on what your customer really wants from your brand.

Take the example of KLM’s surprise, using social data to wow your customer is simple to do and definitely pays off.   With so much data available to travel brands there really is no excuse for not understanding your customers’ wants and needs.

Whilst you’re planning your strategy and budgets for 2013, have a think about whether what you’re planning will wow your customer.   For some free information on smartphone, tablet and social media consumer behaviour simply follow this link.