Become the go-to partner for every travel experience
How do you make sure your guests keep coming back?
The last few years have been eventful for the hospitality industry. Everyone in the industry was impacted, even players who previously took the lead in the field of digitisation. But the transformation continues, consumers are ready to make up for lost time and are keen to book and experience travel again. To survive in this climate, intermediaries such as travel agencies must fight to keep their place in the consumer’s hearts and add more value, more than ever. The time when they had all the information, and the absolute trust of the customer is long gone. Large booking sites are now often the first and the last stop. It’s not just down to maximising room yields or average daily rates, favourable reviews are now also a Key Performance Indicator for the travel industry.
Intelligent capacity management is essential when it comes to gaining and maintaining market share. Not easy, because online booking tools mean there is much more transparency and therefore sharper pricing than before. Through dynamic pricing, occupancy rates can be optimised, although in addition to an efficient algorithm, this also requires clear choices in terms of brand positioning and sales strategy. Technology cannot compensate for the emotional component that plays an important role in the hospitality and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) sector. Consumers buy – and make reservations – with both their heads and their hearts. This emotional connection presents opportunities for both upselling and repeat bookings.
There have also been clear evolutions in the business segment in recent years, even more so than in the private market. During the pandemic, we established other ways of holding conferences and meetings. Business trips and events are now back but are becoming scarcer and demand a more tailor-made approach. Organisations know what they want and expect their partners to go the extra mile in terms of flexibility. They avoid time-consuming negotiations and prefer smooth and transparent online tools. These methods are more in line with contemporary business operations and procurement. Many players do not always have all the know-how in-house to turn their plans into concrete applications and campaigns. That's why they are looking for external partners who assist them in creating complete digital travel experiences.
Consumers want to do it themselves
Both consumers and business customers want to manage their travel experiences and events themselves. Digital platforms mean that they can already do this for telecom, utilities, and financial services. So why shouldn’t it be the same for hospitality? Adding extras, asking for information, or passing on special requirements, personalising or even simply booking online: it sounds obvious, but it is not. Hospitality players that master this will significantly expand their market share in the coming years.
Here's how to get the customer on your side:
The travel experience starts before the trip
Naturally a smile and a warm welcome at the reception are essential. But authentic hospitality starts much earlier, in fact from the moment you think about booking online. The first contact sets the tone for the whole experience.
Follow your customer at any time
Online bookings means that hospitality players can collect a lot of data about their customers. But often they don’t use the data’s full potential. It’s worthwhile closely monitoring your guest’s behaviour and preferences, from the very first touchpoint and contact, to the communication after the travel experience. This requires integrated IT systems that are well aligned and bring all the data together for optimised analysis.
Flexibility, anywhere, anytime
The marketplace continues to be very diverse. There are still consumers today who take the time and visit a travel agency to get extensive advice. Just as there are travellers who want to pay the extra price for a business class flight while others prefer Premium Economy. Consumers today expect flexibility and freedom in every part of their travel experience. They have the same high expectations across different channels and platforms. This is their moment, an emotional and financial investment, something that they have been looking forward to for a long time, and that they expect to enjoy to the fullest.
Put convenience first
Booking a trip or a flight today should be as easy as ordering a meal or buying a phone. Whether that is for a lone traveller, their family, or a group of twenty employees. The holiday feeling starts before they leave. Remove any doubts or barriers by offering a seamless digital experience. Always remain transparent and encourage user content, such as reviews within your online environment. Consumers appreciate open honesty.
The customer would like... a warm 'Welcome back!'
Retaining customer loyalty in an environment that is becoming increasingly digital, transparent, and competitive is a challenge. Hospitality players aim for repeat bookings. This requires more than just a flawless travel experience. They expect their preferences and interests to be retained for their next bookings. Customers feel welcome and valued. The travel or booking agent is not just a salesperson, but is regarded as a discreet and sympathetic assistant, someone who is on their side.
How does iO work?
This sector shares many similarities with governmental institutions, retail, and telecom companies. A seamless digital experience when booking and communicating, for example, is the minimum that the consumer expects. But that requires management environments and apps that are perfectly integrated and closely monitored. During our experience collaborating with large hospitality players, we’ve created complete digital travel experiences. From the IT to marketing, and from branding to customer journey management and evaluation.
Would you like to work with iO?
Our experts would love to talk to you about how to digitise in phases throughout the chain.
4 pillars that every hospitality player can build on:
1. Build a love brand
Just like utilities and telecom players, become a partner in the everyday lives of your customers. Get closer to them using an app packed with advice or irresistible special offers. That's how you win their loyalty and trust.
2. Work with predictive data
Anyone in hospitality knows that there are no unimportant details – everything matters. A detail that’s barely noticed by one guest can make or break a holiday for another. A smart reservation module or carefully considered advance communication avoids annoyances and possible misunderstandings.
3. Invest in intelligent software
The more sophisticated and intelligent your software, the more creative you can be with dynamic pricing and innovative payment strategies. Algorithms need to be on point, to maximise profitability and minimise negative customer experiences.
4. Give guests more control
Let them book, manage and evaluate their travel experience in detail via digital platforms – all the way down to online reviews. It gives them even more of the feeling that their satisfaction are, as a guest is central.