Consumer engagement, retention, loyalty and trust begins pre-trip, builds in-trip and ends post-trip, to start again in a constant cycle. Without adopting digital innovation and a digital-first mindset, travel brands will be destined to fail in their engagement and relationship with consumers. Taking a holistic view of the traveller journey is the first step to building a travel business fit for purpose post-pandemic.
Post-pandemic, embracing digital innovation is critical for travel brands to power out of the health and economic crises, and looming climate emergency, adapting to changing consumer behaviours and values.
With ever more consumers working, shopping and socialising online, digital tech is omnipresent in consumers’ lives and key for engagement across the traveller journey. Taking a holistic view of the consumer continuum is key.
Big data, AI, digital payments, mobile and social commerce are priority areas, spawning new travel start-ups and business models, with digitalisation going beyond the functional to elevate the customer experience.
Pre-trip travel planning is an art in itself. After lockdown, AR/VR will continue to feature as part of DMO tool kits, while social influencers adapted to the new normal and will help in rebuilding trust.
After the booking, it is vital for travel brands to deliver on service promises and exceed expectations through personalisation, contactless solutions and add-ons. Hyper-personalisation through AI reduces the expectation gap.
Online direct channels are the best way to ensure there is a strong, engaging customer relationship, with direct channels set to enjoy an uplift post-pandemic, also delivering on much needed savings on OTA commissions.
Experiences have been given a shot in the arm by COVID-19 due to the need for advance booking to meet new protocols. Combined with foodservice, mobility and retailing, there is great potential for upsell and partnerships.
Digital travel is not the destination but the journey with a high price for failure.
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