Whether they’re on their smartphone, in a high street travel agency or using social media, today’s leisure travellers want a consistent and connected experience. Leisure travellers don’t think in terms of channels – but smart leisure travel sellers need to understand the challenge of managing different channels to meet traveller expectations. Those expectations are high – and rising all the time.
Travellers expect to be able to move from one channel to another, and find the same offers, prices and service whatever channel they choose. If the traveller sees an offer at a web shop, they may decide to share it with their friends on social media to see if they want to be part of the plans. Once they’ve researched and bought their travel at a high street travel agency, they may want to amend or augment their travel later on using a different channel. They may want to add insurance or car hire to their package: in all cases they’ll want the easiest, most convenient and most immediate way to do this.
Serving this channel-switching traveller will mean travel sellers must have a long and deep think about their business model and what it looks like today. Instead of one or two channels the travel seller now has to run multiple channels. From the travel sellers point-of-view these channels could seem very distinct and different. Under a multichannel regime, the travel sellers would have developed a separate strategy and technology pathway for each channel.
But the multichannel approach doesn’t make sense from the traveller’s perspective. The traveller expects the different channels to work seamlessly and in concert. To enable this synergy, travel sellers need to adopt a cross channel approach: a global strategy with shared objectives, synchronised IT and common databases and content across all the channels.
A cross channel strategy embraces every single channel involved in the traveller’s purchasing path – before, during and after purchase. There are five key areas where travel sellers should focus to optimise the strategy and ensure it works harmoniously and maximises profitability:
- Make sure you provide customers with the right information at the right time and place
- Establish effective cross channel merchandising and pricing mechanisms
- Think about the best way to target promotional spending across channels
- Adopt an appropriate organisational model and skills base
- Think about how you manage customer data
Travel sellers who get this right will provide better experiences for their travellers, which brings its own benefits in terms of repeat business, loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations from happy travellers. Effective cross channel practices will also mean increased knowledge about the customer that can drive cross selling and ultimately lead to a comprehensive omni channel approach.