Customer-First Travel Companies See 2x Revenue Gains
Customer experience has always been at the heart of travel and hospitality. But technology and data have dramatically altered what customers expect from travel and hospitality experiences — from first inspiration to ongoing loyalty. And the transformation is still in progress. For example, mobile shopping continues to grow in travel and hospitality, even as it flattens out in other industries. If you’re not growing along with those expectations in travel and hospitality, your customers have other options.
So it’s probably not a surprise that companies that invest in experience transformation win out over those that don’t. But what might be surprising is how large an impact that investment can have, from ratings to revenue — and just about every key metric and indicator in between.
New research from Forrester and commissioned by Adobe, “The Business Impact of Investing in Experience: A Spotlight on Travel and Hospitality,” quantifies that impact. And it’s dramatic. For example, travel and hospitality companies Forrester considers “experience-driven” are 1.7x more likely to lead in customer loyalty metrics than those with less maturity and focus on experience. They’re twice as likely to see increase in customer advocacy. They’re 1.8x more likely to lead in brand equity metrics. And most impressive of all is that they report double the revenue growth. In other words, being experience-driven leads to happy customers and shareholders.
But it’s not easy to meet Forrester’s definition of an experience-driven business. It requires investment in — and focus on — technology, people, and processes. Among the travel and hospitality companies considered by Forrester, only 25 percent made the cut.
Build on customer data and customer-focused employees
According to Forrester, the travel and hospitality companies that make the experience-driven grade share certain qualities. First, data is a top priority for them. They budget for customer analytics technology, and seek to analyze and understand each customer’s behavior and motivations. Plus, they’re driven to understand customers across all touchpoints, digital and physical, which is why they’re far more dedicated to journey analytics than competitors that are not experience-driven. These leaders know that even physical-world experiences fall flat without data and information integrated across the journey.
The focus on customer understanding extends to the experience-driven businesses’ employees. These businesses strategically hire with the customer in mind, and are dedicated to continuous staff training focused on strong experience delivery. In fact, 100 percent of the experience-driven travel companies surveyed by Forrester say their staff is best-in-class at supporting experiences.
Get comfortable with customer complexity
Travel and hospitality customers are multidimensional. They might look to one flavor of social for customer service, another for discounts. For recommendations, they might go to a front lobby or a third-party website. Maybe they prefer an app for loyalty, but YouTube for inspiration. The variations are nearly infinite. Experience-driven businesses understand and focus on serving customers on whatever platform is preferred in a moment, with content that suits each person’s unique journey.
That’s why better orchestrating the entire customer journey, from acquisition to loyalty, is the experience improvement travel and hospitality companies are eager to make. Trailing just behind that on their wish list is content marketing that is meaningful and personalized to each guest. Improved customer journeys and content results in customers getting more of what they want, how they want it. It also leads to what travel and hospitality companies want — acquisition and long-term loyalty.
Next steps for the next level
The potential gains from being a experience-driven business are great, but it’s not an easy task to become one. Based on this study and other research, here’s some of what Forrester recommends for moving forward:
- Fully understand the customer with journey analytics. Use both qualitative and quantitative data to analyze your customer’s behaviors across touchpoints and over time. Start with a simple use case across one key journey to prove the value of journey analytics, then scale up to more advanced use cases — those with next-best-action models, for example.
- Hire mindset over skill set. Recruit candidates who have customer-obsessed mindsets. Evaluate their customer focus first, and only after they demonstrate ability to move on to role-specific skills. Become more agile in your ability to hire customer-centric candidates so you don’t lose them to competitors.
- Enable employees with right resources. Even customer-obsessed employees can’t provide great experiences if they don’t have the right tools, training, and information. Discover what hurdles your employees face, and create processes that provide better and more unified understanding of the customer across the organization. And finally, develop a technology roadmap that supports better experiences, based on insights and knowledge from both your employees and customers on what matters.
- Make security a CX enabler. Trust is critical to customers, so engender trust with your customer through digital interactions that are secure — and appear secure. Do this by integrating security, and the perception of security, into the customer-centric design process. Also look for ways to build safety into the experience, since it’s also key to creating trust.
The challenging but rewarding trip ahead
All of these steps are much easier said than done. Transforming people, processes, and technology requires dedicated resources, executive-level focus, and commitment across the organizations. But as the Forrester report reveals, that effort can have monumental returns — for both you and your customer.
Learn more about how travel and hospitality companies are personalizing experiences here. Download The Business Impact of Investing in Experience, dive into the findings, or see the results at a glance.