Consumers today are demanding, impatient and curious. They can get what they want, when they want it, and as a result the retail landscape is more customer-driven than ever before.
Ecommerce has impacted across buying behaviours, with implications for all sectors. The way people book travel products has changed too. Technology gives travellers more autonomy. When they want to research, find information or answer questions, they expect to find help that is personal, frictionless and on target.
Meanwhile the integration of Internet shopping into everyday life provides valuable data about what drives conversion. In its most recent survey of retail buying habits, Statista reports that top incentives include:
It’s immediately possible to see that many of these top purchase drivers can be easily applied to online holiday booking.
Time to Dream
One clear motivating factor in travel booking that differs from general retail is ‘anticipation’. According to ABTA, one of the most common reasons someone might book a holiday in advance is simply in order to have more time to look forward to it. Research for ABTA by YouGov shows that 25% of those surveyed book early so they can enjoy daydreaming, researching local food and weather and planning activities.
ABTA’s survey confirms that the most common reason for early booking is to secure a better deal. The travel industry typically has a ‘sale’ period in January and February when it’s possible to find special offers, discounts and perks such as free child places that can significantly decrease the overall cost of a holiday. In line with Statista’s driver of financial gain or discounts, 41% of customers book early to get more for their money.
Environmental consciousness is another purchase driver that is becoming more relevant in 2019. Global Web Index (GWI) reports that half of digital consumers say environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions. While 60% of millennials (age 22-35) would pay more for sustainable or eco-friendly products, 55% of Gen X (age 36-54) feel the same. It’s likely, therefore, that a long-term change in attitude is taking place.
The Holiday Habits Report 2018 from ABTA also offers some interesting news about booking channels that confirms the sea change in favour of ecommerce. Consistent with 2017, four in five people (81%) now book their holiday online.
Finally, a consideration specific to travel, destination is in itself a purchase driver. The travel industry has responded to this with strong destination branding. You can read more about ideas for creative airport destination marketing in our blog.
Understand your customer
In order to meet the needs of your customers and offer them products that they will want to buy, it’s important to understand their travel expectations. An integrated flight booking and CRM system like Rezcomm Travel will provide the tools you need to analyse buying and browsing behaviours and demographics. This allows you to build the necessary understanding to segment your customers according to data such as age group or interests. It will give you information about their preferences so you will know whether they are destination orientated, luxury seekers, habitual travellers, social travellers or value seekers. All this information provides your airport’s marketing department with a clear opportunity to assist your customers with their decision making at every step of the booking journey.
Now let’s look in more detail at some of those purchase drivers, how they apply to holiday booking, and how you can integrate them into your sales funnel.
1. Social media and the importance of ‘showing off’
In 2017, The Independent reported that 40% of millennials pick a holiday destination based on ‘Instagrammability’. If that seems extreme, social media has also now become so integral to travelling that 15% of people say they wouldn’t go to a destination if they weren’t able to use their social accounts while they were there!
While it’s true that 20% of buyers are influenced by social media endorsement, this trend ups the ante. As the Independent says, “Social shareability is a valuable currency, and the smartest hotels and resorts have realised this. For millennials, getting good Instagram snaps is more important than the opportunity to soak up local culture and even the cost and availability of alcohol.”
Consider creating your own unique hashtag, or partnering with Influencers, and make sure you’re encouraging user generated, shareable content such as images and video.
Read more about using social media to promote holidays on our blog, Social Media for Ecommerce Marketing…
2. Trusted reviews, confidence and online security
According to a Google/Phocuswright study, 55% of travellers agree that they have to check too many sources of travel information before they can make a decision. Once they come to choose, those decisions are often stressful. People are worried about finding the best price for their holiday, much more so than for any other discretionary purchase such as home improvements or electronics.
In order to help these passengers feel confident in their booking, your airport should present customers with a booking interface that allows them to compare all of their options in one place. It is particularly important that this product view is accessible to people researching and potentially booking on their mobile device.
It is also important that travellers can easily find and view feedback from other customers.
Rezcomm’s systems give your airport the capability to display products based on the two main purchase requirements of convenience and cost. Fully optimised for mobile, they also give the option to integrate valuable content, such as FAQs and reviews from Trustpilot or another consumer review partner, into the booking journey.
When it comes to trust, data security is a big issue too. According to GWI’s report, 72% of people say they are more aware of how companies collect and use their data than they were 12 months ago, and less than half say that they feel in control of their personal data. The report concludes that:
“Trust is now not only a major commodity for companies, but also a central component in their ability to compete.”
In order to ensure customer trust, Rezcomm is level 1 PCI DSS compliant, ABTA and ATOL protected and comes with a full SSL certificate in line with GDPR.
3. A personal service with VIP treatment
It’s no longer news that personalisation is important. It’s also common knowledge that this is not as simple as adding a ‘Dear |FNAME|’ to your marketing emails. Traveller expectation is constantly rising and brand loyalty is no longer guaranteed.
According to Google/Phocuswright, only 9% of U.S. travellers ‘always know’ which brand they will book with before researching.
The study also shows that even elite loyalty club members can be snaffled by another brand if the price is right. Two thirds of elite U.S. air loyalty programme members would pick a different airline for a better price, route or schedule, and more than two-thirds of those with hotel loyalty programmes would choose a different hotel for a better price.
Rather than implying that the value of service and loyalty has lessened, this highlights the importance of differentiating your airport brand from the competition. You can capture the customer with a fast mobile site that offers the information they need, or suggest things to do in-destination once they have set off on the trip.
Phocuswright also found that travellers are becoming more spontaneous, as access to information and on-demand booking allows for quicker decisions. 60% of U.S. travellers would consider an impulse booking inspired by a good flight or hotel deal.
All of this makes it important to build your airport’s own loyalty programme in a way that is personalised to each of your passengers. Rezcomm Travel’s CRM functionality allows you to really get to know your customers, so you can offer VIP experiences and value-added up sell and cross sell that will genuinely improve their holiday.
Some of the most popular airport loyalty schemes reward travellers for their purchases at shops and restaurants at the airport. For example, Heathrow Rewards offers points to customers through its smartphone app.
Other areas that can add value for loyal customers are points cards for food and beverage concessions where points can be collected towards a future discount, instant perks such as free Wi-Fi, time in the executive lounge, priority boarding and access to the best car parking spaces.
You might decide to focus your loyalty programme on your frequent-flyer customers who buy the most expensive tickets and have the biggest lifetime value, but it’s worth noting that a well structured parking loyalty programme will help you to collect customer data that will enrich your marketing and enable further and better personalisation for all your customers. This can have a huge impact on customer loyalty and therefore revenue.
4. A frictionless, easy booking journey
Statista’s top drivers for online shoppers included two figures that have a lot in common. People were encouraged to buy because there was the option to checkout as a guest (18%), and they completed their bookings because the checkout process was quick and easy (39%).
This is backed up by information about cart abandonments, and the reasons people don’t complete a booking or purchase. According to Barilliance, 22% of cart abandonments are due to a requirement to set up a user account. 28% of shoppers say they have abandoned purchases for this reason.
Similarly, long and complicated checkout processes are a significant source of friction. Unnecessary forms detract from customer confidence and can become confusing, leading to 28% of shoppers abandoning their purchase.
The solutions are simple: Offer guest checkout and streamline your site’s navigation, reducing the number of screens from initiation to completion.
Rezcomm has worked with airports to develop checkout forms that build as they are completed and validate in real time, meaning a much easier experience for the customer. The checkout process for online flight bookings with Rezcomm Travel truly minimises the stress of form filling enabling customers to book quickly and confidently.
What are your customer’s biggest drivers?
These ideas address just some of the motivations that travellers consider when booking their holiday. Each of your customers has different needs, priorities and expectations. By getting to know those unique drivers rather than relying on market trends you will be ahead of the game when it comes to meeting the specific needs of your airport’s passengers. Consider building an email campaign to ask for direct feedback. Data from a survey in which you ask your customers what drives their holiday booking decisions will be an invaluable resource when it comes to beating the competition.
If you would like to know more about how Rezcomm can help with every aspect of your ecommerce operation or for advice on your emarketing strategy for 2019, contact the team today.
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