2012 Forecast: 4 Emerging Trends in Online Travel
By Mark Simpson President & Founder, Maxymiser | November 27, 2011
The biggest innovations poised to alter the travel industry are actually happening outside the travel industry. Nevertheless, these changes will have a dramatic affect on the way in which travel businesses market to, acquire, and retain their customers. In these fast-paced, consumer-savvy, and consumer-picky times, if you're not innovating and continually improving how you interact with your customers, you will fall behind. Pricing wars and slick advertising campaigns won't win you more or lasting customers.
While intermediaries are still very prominent, the use of loyalty programs, brand partnerships and smarter acquisition programs have proven that suppliers are beginning to take back ownership of customers. The need for competitive, yet relevant site and mobile experiences, which relate to each individual visitor, is more important than ever before.
This focus is on creating innovation, and in the year ahead, that trend will continue.
Trend 1: Mandatory Testing for Improved Customer Experience Management (fully controlled by Marketers)
Forrester research revealed that 1 in 5 travelers encounter problems when booking. Even worse, a third of them move on immediately to find a solution with a different company. Zero tolerance, pricing wars and very little patience make for a seemingly promiscuous customer. Because of this, Customer Experience Management for travel is becoming more important and even more meaningful to both marketers and consumers.
Take for example, the following tried and true online leaders: eBay, Amazon, and Facebook. One major customer experience pattern they share is the fact that they have never performed a massive website redesign or overhaul. Instead these brands have continually iterated their sites, testing every change before rolling it out to all visitors. These brands are smart: they know the only way to accurately measure the performance of new content, design, promotions-whatever that content may be- is to use multivariate and A/B testing in a live environment against a default, and measure the change in desired response(s). This daily, weekly and monthly iteration allows customers to "tell" companies what they like (and don't like) through real interaction. The data driven results are uncontestable.