Emotion in Motion: Innovative Ideas on Providing your Travel Customers with the Most Impactful Travel Experience
Today, digital business leaders’ focus is all about digital outcomes. Digital Operating Improvements (DOI) like reduced costs, improved revenues, strengthened competitive positioning, increased operational agility and speed, are all critical elements. However, the most important outcomes of all in today’s direct digitally-engaged world are the experiences that are created for customers, employees and business partners. People will repeatedly engage with experiences that are effective and easy but they will champion, applaud, advocate and keep coming back to experiences that are emotionally empathetic, that speak to them. I like to call these digitally-enabled Emotionally Empathetic Experiences Digital E3.
Circumstances or contexts define different Digital E3 priorities for different people. However, there are some uniform expectations. The best companies understand these expectations, deeply understand their customers, their customers’ desired journeys and work to meet and exceed these expectations. The industry leaders don’t just assume they know what is required. The best companies are building teams of people and enhanced tools that constantly analyze, sense, and modify what is engaging in terms of look and feel, content, offers, and messaging across channels, for different customer groups. These teams understand existing devices, channels and technologies but also new devices, new technologies and new digital platforms, the available integration of those technologies with other digital technologies (through API’s) and the integration with legacy and more modern core business platforms that actually run the business.
The overwhelming emotion that most people feel in most travel experiences is stress— either the train is late, the plane is delayed, security lines are long, the train travel feels unsafe, or the limousine is stuck in traffic. Companies have endeavored to provide digital tools and mobile apps to help give the customer some level of control (or appearance of control anyway) to overcome specific points of stress. However, these only go part of the way in achieving the truly transformational and loyalty generating experiences that customers want. De-stressing key moments is just one opportunity to make our customers feel truly special, a feeling that requires addressing their very personal needs.
If we consider this from a customer perspective, a traveler’s journey can be considered a Trip comprising seven key segments: 1) Pre-Trip moments, or Dreaming, where customers are thinking about what to do while companies are looking to engage, educate, and inform usually through marketing strategies to be the provider of choice to the appropriate stages, 2) Trip Consideration, where options are narrowed down, 3) Trip Selection, 4) Trip Purchase, 5) Trip Refinement/Planning, 6) Trip Execution and 7) Post-Trip.
Every digitally engaged traveler today is acutely aware that they are providing all kinds of data to their providers (even when they like to complain about privacy and security). The idea becomes “value me and I will love you, violate me and I will violate you.” What they want is a provider that demonstrates that they care about the customer and value that data to do something useful for the customer.
Let’s talk about some strategies that are happening in travel today that’ll help your enterprise step up its game in make customers feel oh so special:
- An airline has empty middle seats on their Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon and Saturday afternoon flights and they are starting to explore social media analysis to make targeted, low cost seat offers to people interested in special events at target destinations where they also have friends. Special events might include a sports event or your mother’s birthday.
- Airports are exploring mobile border and security applications that will allow passengers to accelerate their immigration by sensing their mobile device and using facial recognition and other biometrics.
- Travel providers are sending links to target customers engaging social media influencers to build real world trip communities of mutually interested and compatible travelers.
- Airlines are providing different group booking capabilities including distributing executives on different flights, free baggage check, free flight change, special offers for excursions through agents, contact centers and direct-to-customer offers
- Hotels are co-venturing by selling event + room packages that are of special interest to a customer possibly including ticket auctions to that special front row ticket at that special event with the hotel room on tentative hold until the event is confirmed.
- Transportation companies from limo to bus enterprises are enabling their vehicles with Uber-like tracking so registered customers know precisely when they are to be picked up
- An airline and digital travel company partnered to offer not only pre-booked limos to airline passengers and hotel customers, but also ride-share services, prepaid and pre-booked buses, trains and metro services, local tour guides and even childcare services.
The new wave of digital innovations will further accelerate this trend.