What should your Travel Company be focused on in 2017 to ensure success?

The answer is the same as always, but the methods are continuing to develop at a resounding pace. In a nutshell, the answer is: The Customer.

Everyone should be maniacally focused on The Customer every year. The question is how does this focus evolve in 2017?

In speaking with companies over my 20+ years in the Travel Industry, I can say that you’ve witnessed a significant transformation in the way business is done, but what hasn’t changed in recent years is what Travel Companies describe as their top concerns. Here are the top 5 as we see it: How do we get to know our customers better? How do we increase customer spend while increasing customer engagement through online and mobile channels at the same time? How do we target high value customers? How do we keep our customers coming back? What is the most efficient way for us to manage agreements with our partners? We can all think of Brands which are doing an excellent job at answering these questions consistently.

How do we get to know our customers better? Using a common example, Amazon always seems to know what I searched last and if the price has gone down since I last showed interest. They know what I like, they know what I don’t like, they know what people like me like. They offer suggestions on that basis, and they always seem to target their communications directly to me by storing (and mining) my preferences and recent searches. They have a record of my spending; they suggest ancillary purchases that compliment my purchase and increase my spend with them. There are a lot of Brands who are mastering this kind of Customer Journey. Why are there so few Travel Companies who are joining this movement? This should be a top focus for 2017. When a company decides to approach their customers using information as the tool, great things happen. Not only do you solve the 1st concern, you also begin to increase customer spend through suggestive marketing and foster online/mobile engagement through campaigns which reward and incentivize behavior. They are pioneers in the notion of Artificial Intelligence and there’s a lot to learn from them in 2017.

Historically, lower touch channels have had lower revenue potential but many industries are seeing a change in this paradigm as people are increasing their propensity to spend more money online. Even after the sale, these methods along with surveys combined with continued customer support, keep customers coming back to your brand which now appears to “know them” better.

The last concern on the list is a bit more focused on B2B sales and staying in touch with the agreements and performance of partners. Partners are customers too, and making sure that your partners are equipped with the right incentives and monitoring their performance is integral in your shared success. Using a CRM tool to manage agreements and sales performance is regular practice in many industries, however many Travel companies are still managing agreements with partners in Excel, or Word, or even worse, email. If that’s the case in your organization, 2017 should be the year where more focus is put on automating these (in most cases) simple business processes.

Showing Customers and Partners that you value them by monitoring and progressing the relationship-building process will set a tone for 2017 that your Travel Company is committed to growth and innovation.

Using a consulting partner’s methodologies to help your company be more successful is important. Though our company is focused on building Salesforce.com-related solutions for the Travel Industry, any ‘first-step’ in this direction will help to drive growth in your Travel Company in 2017.

Irene, who has over 20 years experience in the Travel Industry and more than 10 years managing software implementations in various industries, is a principal at Bridge the Gap Solutions, a registered Salesforce.com implementation company specializing in Travel Industry business process and CRM. nnFor more information on Bridge the Gapu2019s Travel & Tourism Solutions, email: getstarted@btgcorporate.com

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