One travel tech company puts forward its case for cross-channel content marketing and user-experience strategies in the struggling post-pandemic travel industry.

In this age of the connected customer, reaching them effectively will become the new battleground.

However, according to some surveys, only 20% of travel agencies surveyed plan to invest in omnichannel marketing over the next five years to capture this digital customer base. In Asia, it is as low as 7%.

According to travel tech company Amadeus, an omnichannel strategy allows travel brands to respond to the increasingly ultra-connected landscape and evolving customer needs due to post-pandemic consequences. To regain travelers’ trust and get them traveling again safely and efficiently, it will be crucial that travel brands offer a frictionless and convenient experience across all points of contact.

Travel sellers will be the key to building this trust by providing customized services while creating a truly distinctive experience for travelers, said the company’s Asia Pacific MD Mieke De Schepper. Here are some insights he offers to travel industry players that are still pondering how to evolve with the uncertainties wreaked by the novel coronavirus:

  1. Travelers’ behavior patterns and expectations are changing rapidly
    In this new, extensively-connected world where digital devices reign supreme, travelers will be even more demanding than before. Safety, health, and hygiene issues will be critical at every stage of their journey. They will expect consistent information, in real-time, at the tip of their fingers regardless of the channel they use.

    The opportunity for travel brands is immense. Every device, every screen, every touchpoint is an opportunity to connect with the traveler and deliver a superior customer experience. An omnichannel marketing strategy allows travel brands to respond to the ultra-connected landscape and the evolving customer needs, creating a seamless experience.
  2. Reducing friction to respond to traveler needs better
    With an omnichannel marketing strategy in place, travel sellers can optimize their call centers and handle customer queries more efficiently, especially in times of disruption. As channels get integrated, travelers can initially make contact via a chatbot or social media account and later switch to a phone.

    It also allows the customer service reps to have a single view of the customer with all the information in one place, helping them understand customer’s preferences and needs. This leads to faster and more efficient responses avoiding disjointed communication, repetitive information, and, above all, customer frustration and dissatisfaction.

    The current climate has also added many layers of complexities to travel, such as health checks and social distancing measures. Now more than ever, travelers will be looking for frictionless experiences across all stages of travel. Travel sellers who can remove this friction right from the initial booking stage through to the airport experience will succeed in rebuilding the traveler’s confidence.
  3. Inspiring the traveler even before a purchase decision is made
    The traveler experience in a digital and omnichannel world starts long before they book, beginning at the inspiration stage. This means travel companies need to design all digital interactions, including advertising, with the same, or even higher, attention that they deliver to travelers on-trip—regardless of the channel or the moment.

    An omnichannel approach to marketing that serves (and exceeds) the traveler demands must consider the right travel context, even if the traveler has not started the trip. Advertising can help with this and deliver the right information to the appropriate traveler and/or travel seller.
  4. Choice makes customers feel happier even when caveats exist
    Delivering on customer expectations, including an exceptional and personalized service means one thing: choice. And for that, travelers need to have all content options available through all channels, so they have the freedom to shop where, when and how they want.

    As we continue to live with the possibility of travel disruption, the importance of being able to provide service on-trip has never been so important. Travelers need to know that their travel seller can respond to unpredictable situations with excellent customer service. That means having the ability not only to search and book content but also to service those bookings, regardless of the source of the content or the channel through which they were booked.

    It is important to present travelers with all content choices for their trip: air and beyond air. And by exposing that content via multiple channels and touchpoints, travel sellers can offer a consistent buying experience no matter how and where their travelers want to book their trip: via a self-booking tool or on a mobile or tablet, via a website, an office location or a chatbot. The same content, the same service, and freedom of choice for customers. That is the real vision for omnichannel.

According to De Schepper, while omnichannel has been a buzzword for years, there is still room for improvement. “As we continue to navigate COVID-19 and look to rebuild the industry in a way that is better than before, omnichannel can be a priority area with clear benefits for both the travel seller and the end traveler.”

The present situation, said De Schepper, has created many challenges for the travel industry but also opened doors for opportunities. There will be new types of travel and destinations, different demands from travelers, and the need for new products and services. Travel brands that adopt a successful omnichannel marketing strategy will not only stay ahead of the curve in a fast-changing digital world but also will be able to create the type of holistic, frictionless experience that travelers today desire.