Every traveller is different and how they book their next adventure, with a traditional travel agent (TTA) or an online travel agent (OTA), will depend on what type of traveller they are. But something that is more prevalent than ever for both TTA’s and OTA’s is that personalisation is key.
Both TTA’s and OTA’s have various ways in which they can achieve this personalisation and here are some of them.
Traditional Travel Agents:
“Agent” Transformed to “Advisor”
The position of a travel agent has started to evolve over time to a much more suited title of travel advisor. While an agent is a person who is authorised to act on one’s behalf, an advisor is a professional with additional and deeper knowledge. With this evolution in the position, there are some great benefits. No longer is it a case of just booking the clients holiday. Travel advisors are completely there for their client, whether it be a cancelled flight, or certain weather that prevents them from getting to their destination.
A Personal Touch
As a TTA, adding that personal touch can use this to your full advantage. Travellers go online and find something that they love and think they have found the answer. But we all know that what you see online is not always what you get, and it can lead to ruining their entire dream holiday that they have been imagining in their mind for months. As a TTA and with all your experience, you can determine if what your client sees is what they will really get and save their trip from being ruined, and maybe even add some additional suggestions that they may not have thought of before.
Priceless Added Value
The “average Jo” may go on a holiday and wonder why their neighbours got champagne on arrival and they didn’t get any. They may put it down to wealth or superiority, but what they don’t know is that their neighbours used a TTA. Travellers may not realise but a TTA has a variety of tools that the average person is not able to use, or they don’t know about them. These little extra resources can make any holiday that much more special and memorable.
Online Travel Agents:
Personalisation for an OTA is all about data. The more data that can be collected, the better you user’s experience will be and the more interaction you will see on your website. Through travel preferences and behaviour data you can customise your content to each user that is more relevant, creating that more personalised travel experience. Your data points can include the following: previous destinations, flight times, time of year travelled, demographical, certain ads that have been clicked previously, do they plan trips for themselves or for others, and the length of their trips, etc. It is good to remember that if there is less choice, but the options are more relevant, your user will have an improved booking experience.
Technology is an amazing thing and it enables you to do things that you may previously never have dreamed of. Gone are the days of having to “spray and pray”. Now you can make predictions of your customers thought process which can lead to incredible marketing tactics. Through predictive analytics you can fine-tune your marketing materials to best suit the individual user. A great way to utilise these predictions is through tailored emails and newsletters, and front-facing display materials that are aimed at the audience you are trying to reach. These predictions can be based on the user’s age, location, customer service interactions, loyalty status, and general travel patterns. With this data you can change the tone or creative of your messaging to best suit that user.
Add that Human Touch
Technology has advanced so much that human interaction is not even needed very much anymore, but there are user’s out there who do sometimes need a human touch of some kind. We now have smart channels such as chatbots which are fantastic for many situations, but sometimes there really is no replacement for the personalisation of the human touch. Sometimes there may be a query that is just too complex, or a customer may prefer to talk to someone about something, and with these types of circumstances your self-service implementations should include a way to seamlessly transfer the interaction with the user. Some ways to integrate these interactions is to allow a live agent to enter a current chat through the same user-interfaces, or you could offer a unique phone line that ensures that the customer will receive the support they are looking for immediately.
So, whether you are a TTA or an OTA, there are many ways to achieve personalisation. It may take some extra work, but the benefits are worth it at the end of the day!
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