One of the many benefits of working in the travel vertical is keeping up with the latest industry news and trends.
In fact, it really feels less like work and more pure enjoyment to read on such topics. Often times, I’m inspired to write based on what I’ve learned, such as my last article from Phocuswright on the importance of data in travel.
The holiday season is upon us and there are plenty of articles about what’s going to drive the travel industry forward in 2018. One article, in particular, struck a chord with me. It’s about the lack of joy some travelers experience as a result of well-intended companies looking to connect with customers.
It’s a USA Today article titled, “Review this! Travelers fed up with solicitations.”
Disruption in the travel industry should not feel disruptive. Yet, there is a growing feeling amongst consumers that communication has become just that—too disruptive.
It’s more important than ever to create conversation experiences that delight customers at every stage rather than feeling like constant solicitation.
Aggressiveness is Coming Off the Wrong Way
The tactics and strategies that were once so successful now seem overly-pushy to customers.
Ten years ago, your 7-email drip campaign with the latest offers on travel experiences may have been a holiday joy for customers. Now, inboxes are being stuffed with emails every day like lumps of coal from the Grinch. What travelers really want from Santa is to plan trips on their own terms. The traditional communication strategy has become so cumbersome that travelers react unfavorably to campaigns:
“Before I even checked out of a full-service hotel in Portland, OR, this summer, it had emailed my folio three times. Finally, it sent a form letter asking me for a positive review on social media. ‘We would certainly appreciate your feedback as well as any staff recognition that you may especially have experienced,’ it wrote. I clicked the unsubscribe button.”
This is how the author of the USA Today article explained his experience with travel company solicitation. The good intent of connecting with customers is lost in translation, as you just wanted to create customer engagement through conversation.
But travelers expect a level of authenticity, personalization, and on-demand access your traditional communication strategies simply cannot provide. Aggressive email campaigns feel more like solicitation than customer conversation.
Instead, travelers are getting more seamless experiences from industry disruptors and emerging gatekeepers.
The Risk-Reward of Third-Party Platforms
Third-party platforms can help you optimize social media and chatbots to improve conversations, and this should be part of a comprehensive strategy to meet your customers where they are.
However, putting too much stock in these channels can come at the cost of your data. Whether you are a startup or a mature company, this data can help you increase your valuation and the value you provide to your customers.
Big Tech companies are integrating more travel-related services into their platforms. It’s easy to think this leaves you with two options. You can trust their platforms to distribute your services. Or you can double-down on the communications that consumers see as solicitations.
But there’s a third option that can help you maintain engagement with with travelers during the long sales cycle without giving data away to competitors. You can focus your business on lifetime customer conversations that meet customers where they are.
Meeting Customers Where They Are with Your Own Experience
The last few lines of the USA Today article I read were the most striking. The author explains how travelers can avoid solicitations from your brand, with unsubscribing and declining feedback as top options.
But the author goes a step further and explains that the FCC can step in under the CAN-SPAM Act. This is how fed up travelers are with traditional communications. It’s time to make a change to a more meaningful customer conversation.
That’s why I think Layer fits like a hand into a mitten with the travel industry. You pride yourself on helping consumers plan and enjoy unique travel experiences—from the planning stages through the flight home and every laugh and smile in between. This is what creates repeat travelers. And with our customer conversation platform, you can make conversations seamless and make your experience as special as the trip.
Don’t let your valuable message get lost in a sea of solicitation noise. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help improve your customer conversations.
Happy Holidays and safe travels!