How geolocalisation can help to improve user experience in the travel and hospitality industry
Today, the majority of frequent travellers on business trips tend to exhibit similar behaviours and habits, regardless of their destination – so, let’s imagine life a hundred years from now. It’s not impossible that robots (or another form of AI) will be able to anticipate and plan our journeys for us. This kind of service would be extremely helpful to the regular traveller, keeping them up to speed with any changes or delays and offering them pertinent, relevant promotions that apply to the right place, at the right time. All this might sound like a dream – but what if this virtual reality wasn’t so far from the truth after all?
Optimised customer experience = increased service consumption and improved lifetime value
When examining a customer’s typical business trip, certain recurring elements (e.g. train departure times, Uber or local transport information, average length of stay, usual or preferred hotels or other addresses) can help to give a clearer picture regarding their needs and expectations. This kind of information offers businesses the potential to propose distinct, personalised services to each individual customer, with the user able to accept (or refuse) these offers at the touch of a button. Proposing such services can significantly streamline the customer’s travel plans, reassuring them that certain key aspects of their trip will be taken care of – saving them valuable time in the process.
Access to a database rich in the kind of pertinent information outlined above means the tour operator or travel agent can go beyond simply offering local information to the consumer, instead proposing practical, useful services with a high emphasis on user satisfaction, e.g. pre-booked travel correspondence, valid tickets for local public transport, breakfast reservation, laundry service, or dinner upon arrival. Furthermore, once a user takes advantage of a proposed product or service, it’s highly likely they’ll do so again if left satisfied by the experience. Thus, effectively analysing previous purchasing behaviour using predictive data mining is crucial in helping your business anticipate the kind of future decisions your customer is likely to make.
This approach also helps reinforce customer confidence and customer loyalty, with the customer far more likely to perceive your business in terms of “travel planning” or “travel order” when offered a bespoke approach. What’s more, the additional sales generated by the push suggestions outlined above will considerably increase your business’ per-user (or per-purchase) revenue. Given that we know it’s far less expensive to retain existing customers than to convert new ones, the importance of consistently satisfying the returning customer isn’t just important for brand image, it also makes clear financial sense.
In order for this approach to work clearly and consistently, two key factors need to be considered:
- A comprehensive, up-to-date virtual itinerary, maintained in real time via a connected device, allowing both travel professional and customer to keep track of any delays or changes to their initial travel plans. When integrated with Web Geo Services’ localisation toolkit, Google Maps’ API application allows your business to localise a customer at any given moment, as well as estimating their current vs. initial ETA.
- Flexible partners or collaborators, able to adapt to last-minute changes. In the case of an unexpected delay, for example, it’s not only essential that the customer’s pre-booked Uber arrive 90 minutes later than originally planned: this (significant) adjustment has take place as soon as possible, all without disturbing the customer. Synchronising the various steps of this process is made possible by a real-time feed linking the customer and their travel operator, instantly alerting the latter in the case of any sudden changes or amendments to their customer’s travel plans.
User data for travel professionals: the ideal tool for optimizing your business structure
In addition to offering the customer a significantly improved user experience (and what they subsequently perceive to be a more pleasant, stress-free trip), the ability to effectively manipulate customer data has two distinct advantages for your business.
- Adjusting staff numbers to reflect delays, increased traffic or unexpected shifts in demand, allowing you to optimize employee efficiency in a markedly shorter timeframe (dependent on your business’ customer volume).
For example, in the case of a train breakdown or unplanned strike, the travel professional is able to put an alternative strategy in place to respond to the customer’s current needs (hotel stay, chauffeuring to their chosen destination, alternative train tickets, etc.). Staff members on duty will be made aware of the incident, allowing them to prepare for any inquiries on the part of the customer(s) affected.
For example, if the simultaneous arrival of two trains as a result of a delay or suspended service were to create a surge in demand at the hotel, the travel professional can mobilise additional personnel to ensure that the customer’s experience is impacted as little as possible, thereby minimising the chances that they’ll have an overall negative experience of their trip. Localisation allows your business to anticipate key possibilities that have the potential to affect the customer’s experience, giving your business the tools to adjust staff levels to accommodate extra requests or unusual demand (e.g. assigning hotel rooms, disgruntled customers, cancelling dinner reservations, and so on.)
- Increasing staff levels to reflect peak activity: if, for example, the 07:30 from Birmingham to London sees consistently high numbers of travellers, resulting in overcrowding or delays, your business can subsequently propose an earlier or later train featuring promotional pricing, or increase the number of employees at departure and arrival points to respond to increased customer demand. Similarly, off-peak or less popular services can see staff levels reduced to correspond to reduced demand. Rapid, precise and reliable, this information allows your business significantly increased flexibility in terms of resource deployment, optimising your payroll-to-profit ratio.
When it comes to effectively using localisation data and, indeed, marketing data more generally, everyone is a winner! The customer receives a bespoke, made-to-measure travel service that accompanies them from Point A to Point B, while travel operators increase their sales, improve customer relationships and optimise resource deployment. A localisation platform such as Woosmap, integrated via Google Maps, does all the work when ensuring that customers enjoy a unique, personalised experience – all at minimal cost and effort to your business!