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Are your prioritising your customers’ experience?
It is often thought that a happy customer is a loyal customer, however such relationships are often much more difficult to achieve than first anticipated. Misconceptions regarding what inspires loyalty in the first place, as well as taking loyalty for granted, are two common causes of discord between a business and its customers. The travel market in particular is becoming increasingly complex as customers demand a more personalised and intuitive approach to booking and managing their holiday arrangements.
Alongside evolving consumer patterns and interests, client loyalty in the travel sector is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. This is demonstrated by the recent collapse of the longstanding travel brand Thomas Cook. Its recent demise reveals that even a great brand name, strong marketing, and a great holiday experience does not automatically lead to sustained customer loyalty and ‘repeat business for life’.
So, what do customers really want? What will encourage them to stay loyal even in the face of steep competition? Our recent Customer Loyalty in the Travel Industry research report revealed the height of misconceptions surrounding customer loyalty in the travel sector, helping to shine a light on the most common areas which are routinely overlooked by travel businesses.
We spoke to both tour operators and travellers, allowing us to build a bigger picture of the issues at hand. The research revealed that 81% of travel companies think they have loyal customers, yet only 51% of their customers agree. Clearly, a significant proportion of operators appear to mistakenly assume that their customers feel a degree of loyalty to them, leaving them vulnerable to poaching by the competition.
This lack of synergy in perceptions between tour operators and travellers is revealed again when providers were asked about the stress levels of clients. A staggering 95% were unaware of the extent of stress faced by customers during and after the holiday, as well as what aspects of the holiday caused the most distress. Infact, only 26% of travel businesses predicted how people felt during the booking process, and only 5% of tour operators were aware that their customers felt stressed after returning home. Interestingly, most tour operators assumed that issues such as strikes or terrorist threats were major causes of stress when travelling, whereas in reality, customers were more concerned about plane sickness, being late, getting the right amount of currency, and airport security.
Understanding the core worries and concerns is the first step towards adapting your business practices in order to focus more on the needs of your customers. This, in turn, will help to build deeper levels of loyalty. Instead of being too focused on attracting as many customers as possible, it’s a far more valuable use of your time to ensure that the entire customer journey is made enjoyable and unique. Think of ways that you are able to reduce stress by being empathic as this will add value to the overall customer experience. Adopting a personalised and tailored service is far more likely to attract customers to your business and improve your relationships with existing customers too. In a world of increasing competition, it is vital to stand out from the crowd. Your customers hold the key to achieving this, providing you are willing to listen to them.
About the Author
Tony Bean, Founder/ Director
Tony started his career as an Area Sales Manager for Technical Indexes, an engineering data supplier. He then went on to start his own company, Focus Mobile Ltd – a mobile agency working with brands like Mercedes-Benz, BBC, Channel Four, Diagio, and many more, building apps and mobile strategies. Tony then founded Vamoos in 2014 and now has a team of 15 employees. Tony focuses on generating new business for the company, travelling across the continents to meet with prospective clients and attend innovative travel technology events. For more information visit www.vamoos.com