From aligning schedules, choosing a destination to packing essentials and all that jazz – Who says “The Journey before a Journey” is merely hyped over and not fun? But what comes along as the brick of wall are the attributes of travel business; namely, the perks and benefits provided to travellers!

The last couple of decades have seen the onset of many planning tools for a traveller. But what remains, to a vast portion, unexplored is the fact that travelling for travellers is like morphine to an addict; it is not just scientific but largely emotional and inspirational.

In a recent study by Google(NASDAQ:GOOG) Think With Google team puts forward a fact that many businesses don’t understand their customers anymore.

Many businesses, especially in the travel arena, go by the motto “Bribe them and you’ve got them“. To hit the high spots, one can say that business today don’t focus more on getting to a customer’s heart when they can glom on to gravy! But have we dealt with the bare bones, yet?

People now have more benefit of flip-sides than ever before and this leaves marketers in a thinking spree. Apparently, it’s time for travel brands and marketer to rethink loyalty. Synonymous with points, freebies, and membership discounts, the major problem here is that there’s no guarantee that the customers are loyal to just one brand. Those same people may also be stealing deals from the competitors.

How Loyal Today’s Frequent Travelers Are?

Rubbing eyeballs with high-value traveller, one can jot down a few quick facts. These travellers chalk up an annual average of seven airlines and nine hotel bookings. Pursuing high expectations from their travel, they won’t sacrifice their comfort for any bait, be it, low price. Only 21 per cent will sacrifice comfort for additional come-ons. However, 87 per cent have a steady footing with at least one airline or hotel brand. These frequent travellers understand the benefits of loyal programs.

 

Loyalty programs don’t even fall in the top three consideration for travellers when they choose their booking preference with a brand. Customer service has been the clear priority hooking in 60 per cent customers, followed by an easy-to-use website that chalks a close 55 per cent preference. Online reviews fall at 50 per cent while loyalty programs come in fourth, at a value of 46 per cent. Clearing the haze, whatever remains, loyalty programs seem to motivate less than half of the high-value travellers.

The High-Value Millennial Traveler

Till now, Multiple studies gave away that travellers aged between twenty to thirty value experience over loyalty when making a booking.

Considering an instance, Virgin America has been the safe haven for younger travellers because of its in-vogue branding and services instilled in a one of its kind in-flight experience. For many, those assets outweigh the value of earning some sort of brownie points or any up-gradation.

Millennial today aren’t exactly savvy; they can be dubbed to be technologically dependent. And that dependence has been a lead-out for keeping up and sharing travel experiences. They want more. And as the trend of sharing travel experiences of when and how they want to do it sores up, the “more” is being redefined each time.

As a result, marketers may find that their loyalty programs are diminishing and shrinking in the space as travellers’ preference revolve around product and experiences rather than loyalty programs!

Which Loyal Group are You Talking to?

The recent research by Google talks about two different types of loyalties:

  • Attitudinal loyalty
  • Behavioural loyalty

Attitudinal Loyalty is essentially how loyal someone feels. These customers when pursued with a question of their brand preference, they respond positively. However, this doesn’t end up in confirmation of consistent bookings with the same brand being preferred each time. This is where behavioural loyalty moonwalks in, into the picture. Behaviour loyalty has a down pat on whether customers act loyally by repeatedly booking with the same brand or not.

But the popup question here is – How can a marketer facilitate a customer to make a decision, that they will not regret?

The travel industry is the space where a customer can articulately define a product when subjected to an experience gained from it. This can be made substantial by the fact that 42 percent of all Facebook posts is regarding travel! Yet when it comes to the need for customer loyalty, even the best of brands lack the basic understanding of the loyalty connects.

Take an example – Numerous email offers from travel brands are being sent out to people. If a customer grabs on to 5 such trips from the offer, then out of the 12 months of consistent email offers that read “Steal Deal of xyz Amount. Offer valid for 123, Hurry”, then we can say that only 5 out of the load fulfils it’s purpose while other guide themselves into the trash bin. Apparently, 90 per cent of those offers pop up in a traveller’s mailbox when they aren’t looking for any booking.

It’s not that brands lack the inventory and availability. But how to lure a customer who is inherently overwhelmed by choice?

Lucrative Technology – A Quick Fix?

Sands China used machine learning to categorize its audience into sections and create personalized creatives respectively. High-value travellers with a strong affinity towards luxurious aesthetics resort more toward live events and music, have the relevant ads perfectly tailored so that they’re lured sooner than usual. On the other hand, for conservative and a bit close fisted traveller, who is always on a watch for deals, Sands China offers its best discounts. The results have been staggering! There was an increase in the conversation rate as well as the bookings in the relevant segments doubled up.

This is just an instance wherein its depicted that how marketers can find, win, and retain their most loyal customers throughout their travel experience. Although loyalty stands low in the industry, the potential for garnering in the lifetime value of travellers has been increasing and it cannot be sidelined.

While the think tanks of Google and research consultancy Greenberg have put forth their word for the wise, it’s yet to be seen how customers, as well as brands, get the better end of their share of deals!

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