The consumer travel market is changing. Within 5-10 years Millennials will become the core consumers of airline, hotel and travel spending. And with approximately 72% of this generation choosing to spend their earnings on experiences over material things, there’s a clear shift in shopping intent that travel companies would be remiss to ignore.
Young people love holidays. They’re filling up their online baskets with instagrammable beach holidays, influencer-approved accessories and are ready to record every rock star (or rock bottom) experience abroad on their smart devices. They love holidays and they love shopping for them online. But the way that people have shopped for holidays online has changed drastically with the advent of new technology.
Holidays at the swipe of a finger
They love aggregators. They love Priceline, SkyScanner, Kayak, Expedia. These sites have made it incredibly easy for the consumer to enter their getaway criteria and within seconds, they have an entire vacation itinerary at their fingertips. They love being able to craft their own unique holiday, and to know that they’re doing it at a reasonable price. They love the control.
It’s crucial that travel and hotel companies understand this in order to maintain popularity with known customers and to win new business.
But how do travel companies create a lasting relationship with young travelers to establish brand loyalty? How do they get the attention of a generation which is so quickly able to engage its peers through social media? How do they become their first destination when booking their next getaway?
Personalization through machine-learning
Here’s the rub. Just as millennials prioritize investment in experiences, they expect a phenomenal customer experience (CX) with the companies that they shop with. The holiday shopping experience shouldn’t be summed up with a nice poolside selfie; it should start with promoting high-touch personalization from the point of very first contact. In order to assure their purchase, companies need to deliver uniquely tailored experiences.
With advancements in machine-learning, companies are now able to make more efficient use of data from their websites. Now they’re able to better understand each online visitor’s real-time purchase intent and assist them accordingly as they browse.
By understanding the consumer’s journey, brands can help ensure that travelers get the help that they really need. They can make sure that only relevant visitors are served relevant contact channels. By doing this, they’re not just making sure that they’re delivering on CX; they’re actively reducing costs and increasing profitability.
What do millennials really want?
Personalization is critical when considering Millennials’ needs. The contact channel, or content, that works for Gen X shopper won’t be as effective for younger shoppers. Over 75% of Millennials, when polled, agreed that they would rather text than call. This alone should highlight the importance of promoting online self-serve for younger travel shoppers.
Traditional travel firms have an advantage that aggregators don’t have. They’re able to implement this necessary personalization at a far higher, and far more effective, level than aggregators ever could. Owing to their structure, they’re just not able to give customers the personalized experiences that they crave. The opportunity here for travel companies is huge.
Make every journey count
Travel companies now have the opportunity to influence each and every visit to their website as it happens. With machine-learning technology they can understand, to a degree of incredible accuracy, exactly what each visitor needs to see in order to convert. And the beauty of machine-learning technology is that it is constantly learning from online visitors; as their behavior changes, so does the way that the algorithms react to their behavior.
Improving CX should be a critical concern for customer- and sales-minded travel companies. By making strategic use of online data, they have the ability to create seamless online/offline experiences. And alongside short-term sales boosts, an investment in exceptional customer service will turn everyday consumers into brand loyalists.