There’s an inherently intimate connection between travel brands and their customers. People come back to their favorite travel brands for unique, memorable experiences, escapes from their daily lives for a short period of time. It’s not just a momentary purchase, but the start of a true relationship.
It’s important to remember that in your marketing, and building your campaigns with the customer’s needs in mind. Where are they in their journey right now? What do they need from us? How can we further solidify that relationship and drive intense loyalty? And how can we do that in what has become a digital age?
Here are some examples of how travel marketers can meet customers where they are and build loyalty with all their digital channels:
Nurture with your loyalty program
Why do customers join your loyalty program? Knowing the answer to this question can help quite a bit when it comes to developing your marketing strategy. While there may be some who just join for a specific perk, for those who are especially loyal, it’s often going to be about the positive experiences they have with your brand. They want more than just free Wi-Fi in your rooms or a points bonus on their next car rental; they want the feeling that comes with interacting with a brand they love. These people are your champions, and it’s critical you continue to earn that loyalty.
These people are trusting you with a good deal of data about their travel history, preferences, and future plans. How are you using that to give them an experience that’s tailored to them? An email campaign featuring amazing events at destinations they frequently travel could work. So could sending them a message with all the enticing perks that come along with the loyalty level they’re approaching, or maybe tossing them a free one-night booking every once in a while just to thank them for being a loyal customer. Keep giving them reasons to come back to you so they’ll look forward to it every time.
When it comes to the customer’s next trip, you know where they’re going and have all the information you need to surprise and delight travelers that have booked with you. You should always be thinking about new ways you can do that.
Now’s the time to start building out your location-specific content that you can share with them before, and maybe during, the trip.
- Send them an email with a guide to the food scene in the city they’re staying
- Create a push campaign reminding them that they don’t need to bring workout clothes because your hotel provides them free of charge at the front desk.
- Give them some suggestions on scenic drives to take or off-the-beaten-path activities that only locals know about
- Tell them about tours that might fit their interests and help them learn more about the area
Get those reminders into their inbox or smartphone before their trip so they have it before they start preparing. It could impact their plans, and it’ll increase loyalty.
Day of travel
This is arguably the most important time for communicating with your traveling customer, as the information can change fast and timing is essential. It’s critical at this stage to have triggers in place to anticipate the traveler’s needs throughout the day.
Send an email in the early-morning hours with the most updated information for their trip. This could include flight boarding time, expected wait time at the airport, check-in time at the hotel, the make and model of the car they’re renting, food options at the airport, or public transit options for getting into the city at their destination.
Once they leave the house, speed and channel matter most. Flight’s delayed? Room is ready? Change in port schedule? Upgrading their car? On the day of travel, meet your customers where they are, on the channel that makes the most sense for them at that time.
After the trip
Your opportunities to drive loyalty don’t end when the trip’s over. When you’re a digital-first organization, you can always find reasons to create the personalized engagement you want them to have with your brand.
On one hand, this is a good time to get customer feedback. If anything went wrong with their trip, you want to know as soon as possible. You might hope they’d tell someone at the front desk or in customer service, but many people will just suffer and then walk away without saying a thing. Make it clear that their feedback matters greatly to you, and then you can quickly follow up on anything negative. Escalate if you have to. But make sure it’s addressed in a timely manner. Even if they had a problem, just showing you want to make it right can keep the relationship from being damaged.
In addition, this might also be a good time to hit them with a deal on their next trip. Especially if they had a great time, they may already be thinking about their next getaway. See if you can entice them to go ahead and book with 20% off or a free night. Getting them to take action while you’re fresh on their mind can often be a great way to strike while the iron’s hot.
Especially for your most loyal customers, it’s increasingly important to use the various digital channels available to you in order to engage with them in a highly tailored, personalized way before, during, and after their trip. Loyalty doesn’t thrive in a vacuum. Consistent, thoughtful engagement that strives to be legitimately helpful goes a long way toward giving them a reason to stick with your brand for years to come.