What Travel Retail Can Teach Marketers

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What Travel Retail Can Teach Marketers

By Dave O’Flanagan, CEO of Boxever. - 02/02/2017
In a twist on the usual trope, where the travel industry lags behind other retailers in their marketing automation and personalization techniques, the industry is now poised in front of a real opportunity to drive revenue growth by capturing the market’s interest in and appetite for travel spending.

How? That’s the complicated part. The modern consumer needs to be engaged at more touchpoints across new channels and devices. And today’s traveler has more offers and options for booking than ever before. The travel industry is accustomed to these nuances, making our story a good case for what marketers need to consider to break through the clutter and reach new and returning customers.

What tricks of the trade can be shared between retailers and travel marketers? We thought we’d outline a few, here:

1.Get inside the consumer’s head – and in front of their actions. Decisions can be swayed in a fraction of a second for any retailer – from travel to fashion to electronics – and timing is crucial. Marketers certainly can’t be everywhere at once, and that’s why you need to trust automation to do its job early and often with activation adjustments in real time.

Because you can’t be at each touchpoint vetting for any contextual misses, automation needs to be built with the logic in mind to include and exclude the right contacts when any number of scenarios have been met. Having a view into each customer’s path on their journey will help your program make repeatedly strategic actions to further them along toward purchase.
 
2.Cross-channel engagement doesn’t have to be rocket science.
One misplaced, generic touchpoint can be off-putting enough to result in customer attrition, leading consumers to opt in favor of an alternative provider more in tune with their preferences contextualized by knowledge of their search history, social data, other background information and a greater understanding of their stage in the research phase of the buyer journey.

Cross-channel engagement is essential: according to Eye for Travel, 70 percent of followers will take action on travel content on Twitter; 50 percent of total travel sales will involve more than one device in 2016 and beyond; and email marketing when done right can still result in 8 percent conversion – as seen by industry results from Ritz Carlton outreach. All strategies should work together in harmony across these efforts, to paint a richer picture of what resonates with your customers and to invite consumers to move elsewhere to get closer to their end goal: a dream trip, a coveted purchase – whatever it may be.
 
3.Connect CRM systems to other data within a Single Customer View database to create a more holistic, personalized experience.
With complex channels, fast-changing inventory, customer service call center silos and a divide between the in-airport experience and other touchpoints with airlines themselves, connecting the dots between brand interactions can be challenging for the travel industry, to say the least. That being said, strategies have been employed by visionary airlines to make the travel experience for each customer truly unique.

This is done when personalization techniques extend beyond email marketing. Was an email opened? There is more to see for that customer: Was a shopping cart abandoned? A display ad acted upon? Was retargeting effective? Was this particular customer dissatisfied with a recent purchase or in-store service exchange? Are they part of a loyalty program? Have they visited your competitor’s sites recently? When’s the last time they interacted with your brand?

The questions can be overwhelming, and if your systems aren’t speaking to each other, you’re not speaking to your consumer like what they are: a human being.  

At the end of the day, it’s important for marketers working toward the same goals to share notes on what’s effective, what’s challenging, and what’s ahead. Check back in for more marketing tips to keep tactics fresh and automation techniques top of mind for better outcomes across the board.

-Dave O’Flanagan, CEO of Boxever