With Australia’s travel industry back open for business, many tourism and booking operators are grappling with the seismic customer shifts that occurred during the pandemic and the need to provide a frictionless customer experience that delights across all touchpoints.
The tourism industry has always had a strong focus on meeting customer needs. Whether that’s finding flights and routes that aren’t available to consumers directly, seeking out the best accommodation deals or sharing knowledge about amazing experiences, travel and tourism operators have always found ways to meet the needs of customers.
But as the market bounces back after lockdowns, travel restrictions and other challenges created by the pandemic, tourism operators and travel agents need to get more proactive about understanding and anticipating customer needs.
Creating an exceptional customer experience has always come from understanding customer preferences, but this is not a one size fits all approach. What one customer wants can be dramatically different to another. Understanding customers needs and wants requires information and then leveraging those insights to create bespoke customer journeys that suit individual and changing preferences.
The challenge for travel and tourism operators is that information about the customer is typically spread out across a range of different platforms. But if that data can be aggregated and presented in a meaningful way, it can enable vastly improved customer service and the tailoring of personal offers that will resonate and build ongoing loyalty and repeat business. An integrated platform, such as a CRM system, enables data from different sources to be brought together into a powerful customer service tool.
A CRM can also help tourism operators by enabling automation. When your data and workflows are in a single, central system it’s easier to automate processes. Everything from sending reminder emails and confirmations through to linking customers with experiences and locations that they are more likely to enjoy can be automated when you have a single data platform. This enables lean teams to punch above their weight and to scale services up - which is critical with the post-pandemic staff shortages the industry is facing.
Knowing your customer enables tourism operators, travel agents and booking providers to deliver a superior experience through the entire lifecycle of customer engagement. That starts from the moment they begin searching and researching options online, to inquiring about a holiday or business trip. By having a clear understanding of the customer’s history, including their travel and accommodation preferences and integrating data from different sources, it’s possible to provide a fast, efficient and frictionless digital service that supports the customers journey and helps tourism operators book more sales.
Research by PwC found that valued customer experiences can allow companies to charge up to a 16% price premium on products and services, and reap the benefit of improved customer retention from increased loyalty. With Australia’s tourism sector now bouncing back after two very lean years, the ability to create better customer experiences can boost customer retention, improve customer satisfaction and increase up-selling and cross-selling. But the key is to not only have data but to have tools that enable tourism operators to leverage it and create seamless and delightful customer experiences.
Machine learning can also be a powerful enabler for tourism operators. For example, it can be used to discover travel patterns such as regular customers who book holidays and experiences in specific types of locations. That might be a young couple who look for new adventures each year, or a group that regularly go on a cruise every winter. Having that information in a single platform lets you not only identify potential opportunities but prepare sample itineraries that can be sent to them before they start shopping around.
By anticipating and meeting customer needs through the use of data, tourism operators can create amazing customer experiences. They can help customers find the perfect holiday experience, support them through the entire booking process, offer 24/7 support while the customer is away and help them find their next amazing holiday.