Localisation, the key to the travel industry’s future success: 5 opportunities for travel professionals
Whether we’re organising a holiday, a weekend away or even a business trip, making travel plans is far more complicated than simply booking a ticket to a given destination. To gain the customer’s complete confidence (securing customer satisfaction in the process), it’s imperative that the travel industry go the extra mile when approaching innovations and developments destined to improve the user experience. We take a look at five of the most important issues to address when looking to improve your business’ brand perception.
Booking tickets online via mobile: a priority for today’s young digital nomads
Many of today’s leading technological developments focus on ‘mobile-friendly’ innovation, and the travel industry is no exception. Millennials attach significant importance to buying online via mobile devices, making them a demographic not to be ignored – particularly when we consider them as the future travellers and business leaders of tomorrow.
Let’s look at a few key statistics illustrating US-based Millennials’ love of e-booking via mobile:
- 41% have booked flights via smartphone, compared to just 25% of over-35s
- 27% have already booked a hotel stay via smartphone, compared to 19% of over-35s
Localisation: a shortcut to happy customers
Leading businesses within the travel and hospitality sector do not only know how important it is to accompany customers for the entire length of their stay, they never miss an opportunity to propose high-added-value services to help improve their overall experience.
Thanks to localisation, customers are able to stay in touch with their travel operator throughout their trip via notifications, information feeds or chatbots (software capable of establishing a dialogue with the customer). Both traveller and travel professional are thus able to track any changes or updates to the customer’s planned itinerary. Certain airlines have even opted for instant messaging (Facebook Messenger in the case of Dutch operator KLM) in order to respond to customer queries ASAP, reducing as far as possible the impact of any potential logistical issues.
Simply put, those travel operators at the head of the pack don’t hesitate to go the extra mile when it comes to finding alternative solutions to customer queries. This tendency to go above and beyond might (for example) include a pre-booked taxi service or even a menu recommendation based on the customer’s estimated time of arrival.
The benefits this approach offers the customer are twofold. On the one hand, the user is reassured that key practical considerations have been taken care of, streamlining (and significantly de-stressing) their journey. On the other, they feel confident that your business is capable of looking after the smallest detail – all before they’ve even left their country or city of origin.
Transport problems? No problem with localisation!
The regular traveller’s nightmare: spending what feels like hours on the train platform or departure lounge following a delay, all without the slightest idea of when their journey is likely to start – without mentioning the endless worries about subsequent connecting trains, dinner reservations, or hotel stays. Fortunately, localisation allows travel operators to help keep customers up to speed when they’re connected to GPS or WiFi.
A few innovative examples:
- Updated estimated arrival time : this functionality is already used by many European national rail operators, including France’s SNCF.
- Detailed itineraries for airport journeys including estimated journey times to any given airport while taking into account weather, traffic or other variables
- Real-time bag tracking, helping to avoid lost property / failure to claim baggage
- Accompanying travellers at large airports (i.e. Heathrow): Multiple terminals, number of fellow passengers, unfamiliar layouts, etc. can all contribute to increased customer stress levels when flying. To combat this, certain operators, such as United Airlines, offer detailed, interactive maps of larger airports, complete with regular updates and notifications, while Vueling’s mobile app offers live updates regarding departure gates and delays.
Traveling in style: building brand loyalty with localisation
Opportunities to build brand loyalty become even more alluring when addressing an exclusive clientele. Adopting a bespoke, made-to-measure approach when dealing with VIPs is crucial to establishing a lasting customer relationship. For example, your business could offer its luxury clients:
- The option to select their roomaccording to floor, room style and/or size and view. Hilton Honors already offers customers this option via Google Maps, indicating via floor plan where a customer’s chosen room is located in relation to nearby streets, parks or public transport facilities. This program is expected to expand to include monuments, museums and other places of interest..
- “Self check-in” options online to avoid lobby queues. For example, Marriott Hotels offers its Marriott Rewards members the opportunity to check in and check out via mobile, as well as sending a notification as soon as their room becomes available.
- Bag check-in upon arrival as at Disneyland Paris, with the park’s Disney Express Service meeting customers straight off the train at Marne-la-Vallée station.
Saving the customer time while significantly improving their user experience is a sure-fire way to increase customer satisfaction. Offering extra services, such as those outlined above, to existing or frequent travellers will serve to reinforce your business’ consumer-brand relationship, while satisfied customers are far more likely to recommend your business to friends, family and colleagues.
Localisation: the ideal solution for improving your business’ occupancy rate
Successful new businesses, such as Hotel Tonight, have understood the importance of real-time localisation data when looking to capture new prospects, allowing them to localise potential new customers while offering incredibly competitive rates to maximise room occupancy.
Another application, Scout, compares prices of local transportation companies (Uber, Lyft, TaxiForSure) before sending the user a notification indicating the cheapest tariff.
When applied to the travel and hospitality sector, localisation offers several intriguing possibilities. To guarantee continued customer satisfaction, the industry’s leading businesses must ensure that they continue to surprise travellers by anticipating their ever-changing needs, proposing solutions tailored to their lifestyle and travel habits.