With the steady growth in global tourism over the past five years expected to continue, do you know what your future guests want?
They’re pretty demanding… Yet, in order to align your business objectives with their demands, you must understand what motivates them and change how you plan to win their business.
They desire novel, unique experiences that surpass the simple need for a place to sleep or conveyance from A to B. They insist upon having their special interests catered, moving resolutely away from cookie-cutter holidays to personalised experiences. Their technological sophistication sets expectations you simply must meet to prevent their running off to the competition. And their social media consumption demands that you engage more strategically with that space.
Service that keeps on giving
Whether you’re an accommodation, day tour, cruise, train travel or activity supplier, what your target customer wants and expects starts and ends with service. The days of herding tourists through the same holidays are gone. Treating them all the same is self-sabotage – an end-to-end experience is one way to differentiate your service offering.
Service is about relationships, response times, convenience, ease and comfort; it’s about accuracy and honesty; about effective communication making life easier for your client, not painful.
What’s their first point of contact with your brand and/or product? Most likely on mobile. It’s good service to optimise your website and digital collateral with responsive design and one-click booking facility compatible with all devices. Where most travel research starts on mobile, bookings tend to happen on laptops. You can ramp up your customer service by empowering site visitors with a Click-to-call option to contact you directly as they’re browsing your site.
68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search.
Factoring in your target customer’s need for instant gratification, it helps to manage expectations early on in the relationship. What is reasonable response time? A SKIFT study of how long people are generally prepared to wait for a response to an enquiry, showed the average waiting time ranges from 12 to 27 minutes, depending on the submission format. During travel, smartphones are the go-to devices for most travellers as they do everything from in-destination orientation to ordering food, etc. Consider providing guests with a digital concierge service as an extension of your service.
Instant messaging apps are crucial to delivering excellent customer service – it’s about being available to your client with real-time, direct and personal communication, and it enables you to provide instant solutions. The quicker your response to a request or problem, the more motivated your client will be to remain loyal to and advocate your brand.
How easy is it to buy your product or service? Provide live availability check and Book Now options on your website and sales collateral. Wetu helps hospitality brands meet those demands by integrating with software solutions, Nightsbridge and ResRequest. Partnering with the experts also lend your brand credibility. You can further reassure the tech savvy traveller by giving them the ability to confirm a booking right at the point of decision-making.
Managing the competition
Is your website user-friendly and easy to navigate? You have 14 seconds to engage new visitors to your site with fabulous content, supported by prominent calls to action and easy forms to complete. Cater to shorter attention spans and visually stimulated users, and you’ll have most of your audience covered.
Differentiation is a competitive strategy. Implement a broad-ranging mixture including:
- guest loyalty programmes
- specials and promotions
- customer referral scheme
- gamification of the buying experience
Get your staff involved and engaged in maintaining superior service levels. Implement reward systems and performance-based incentives and invest in regular upskilling. This promotes a culture of good service. Happier staff takes better care of your clients. You’ll look like a rock star company to work for and associate with.
Another point of differentiation includes developing a reputation for matching client needs and preferences. Figure out what you can do to add value to their experience, namely:
- complimentary WIFI
- special dietary requirements
- kids’ activities
- free transfers
- tickets to events
- tastings and pairings
- cinéma privée experiences
Collaborate with local businesses and tourism companies to supplement your basic offering. You can score mutual benefits with reciprocal referrals. The client can finally purchase a packaged experience with a better, more convenient, all-round service.
Authenticity adds value
Your clients are keen to interact with the local community; so, invite them to participate in any CSR initiatives your brand is involved in. Incorporate cultural activities like learning to cook local foods in your offering or talks with local experts about the history of the area, that will make your brand stand out and make it unforgettable.
Does your marketing content reflect your band values? To be authentic, you must be consistent with it, from what you display on your website to offers promoted in different channels. There’s nothing like putting the traveller into your brand story with video and photo narratives. Unpolished accounts of what they can expect to experience work equally as well as professionally shot videos. Those digital moments work well on social media and are exactly what your future guests want to consume.
You could try digital scrapbooking with Twitter Moments, where you weave together your favourite tweets on one page and upload your brochure link in a post.
Embedded Twitter Moments are ideal for social storytelling and turn hospitality landing pages into appealing tourism brochures.
Value adds and differentiation will help drive occupancy and boost your profit. So does promoting exceptional service from start to finish and beyond travel. Make it your business to be that brand that sets itself apart from the rest and first on your guest’s list.