It’s the highlight of a person’s year and normally the second biggest household expense after a mortgage payment. While this is great for the travel industry, most holidaymakers can’t tell the difference between holiday providers. This makes it a very competitive market for companies who really must do all they can to attract and retain longstanding, profitable customers.

More than ever, customers are able to shop around and compare offerings from an array of providers before committing to purchase. Naturally, price comparison is a major influence, but so too is reputation, and review resources such as TripAdvisor can make a huge difference to a provider’s bottom line. Customers spending very little that give great reviews are worth more than those spending more and saying nothing, so it’s important to keep them happy!

If your marketing strategy does not seek to set your company apart from the competition and offer individual customers a truly fantastic holiday experience that they rave about, you’re going to lose out.

Getting to know you

Step one is to understand your customers and I’m not talking about achieving a general overview of a mass base of holidaymakers. You need to get a view of who the individual customer is to fully understand what they want from their holiday and their dealings with you.

Establishing a single customer view (SCV) gives you exactly this, consolidating cross-channel customer information gathered from a range of sources, such as emails, social media, phone calls, and store visits into one centralised platform. This central database enables you to build an understanding of individual consumers - what they do and what they don’t, as well as when they do it, and their likes and dislikes. This detailed individual, household or family understanding allows you to provide timely and relevant communications to your customers maximising value to the consumer.

The SCV isn’t a new concept, yet many marketers are still reluctant to embrace it because they don’t have the right systems or knowhow to scrutinise and harness the data. However, as the travel market evolves and competition becomes more sophisticated it’s a necessary practice you can’t afford to ignore.

Looking ahead

Marketers have typically used predictive analytics to sell numbers of seats on planes or holiday packages, but identifying the people that need your service is much more valuable.

With detailed insight into a customer’s purchasing behaviour through the creation of a SCV, propensity modelling can then be used to anticipate their next move. If Mr Brown, for example, books a family package holiday every July in Spain online, you can market relevant products to him at the right time in the right way by email. You can even welcome Mr Brown and his family home with a direct mail letter reminding him of his recent fantastic holiday with you and getting him thinking about the next one.

SCV combined with propensity modelling or predictive marketing, enables you to unleash some really innovative tactics that will not only surprise and delight the consumer, but that will help you grow a loyal customer base that not only rebooks with you but spends more every time.

Get it wrong however and it could lead to disaster. If you market the wrong thing to the wrong person, you could end up promoting unaffordable packages to people that can’t afford them, or 18-30 party holidays to mature couples that enjoy cruises.

Customers want to feel they are travelling with a provider that understands them and knows how to deliver a great holiday experience – to nurture that feeling you must talk them about what matters most, through their preferred channels, with relevant content, the correct context and at just the right time.

When the sun sets, outstanding customer experiences is what SCV and propensity modelling are really all about.

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