Personalisation has become more than a fad for businesses looking to optimise the consumer journey and is now an imperative part of understanding the sales funnel. The advent of comparison sites and sophisticated on-page wizards help consumers understand the key characteristics of the product or service they are shopping for, and this means that any website not adopting a personalisation model is potentially selling its visitors short.
Oft described as the “holy grail” of marketing, personalisation is now used by many consumers in the travel industry with sites such as Skyscanner and Travel Supermarket allowing consumers to compare prices on flights, hotels and insurance. However, in terms of an integrated online journey, travel sites have been slow to adopt and many still don’t offer consumers the help that they may otherwise receive offline. Here we look at a few ways that travel companies can improve personalisation online and drive conversions.
Travel Customer Journey Through The Sales Funnel
STA Travel is one of the most popular travel companies in the UK with a specific focus on marketing travel packages to under 26’s. The in-store journey consists of guides on the various regions around the world and the opportunity to meet with an advisor who will talk through every stage of the booking process. However, STA Travel’s online experience is somewhat different, as its homepage resembles that of any other travel company:
This page does little to extol the USPs of STA Travel’s services as it requires users to have a fairly concrete idea of where they would like to go. The focus of the page should be on asking users questions about their ideal holiday before presenting them with a series of options that are truly personalised. No doubt such a task of tagging and categorising the thousands of travel options that a company may have on offer would be arduous in the extreme. However, the potential to offer users a wizard through which they can choose a holiday perfectly suited to them seems too good to pass upon.
The first stage of the consumer journey involves the consumer searching for the product or service they desire. However, it is often erroneously assumed that once a consumer has found a service – i.e. navigated to a particular website – that this stage of the journey is over and that they are now discovering and considering the options that are available to them. Consumers are much smarter than this and marketers must understand that the search phase of the interaction only ends when a series of products or services are presented. If the consumer is still rooting around for an answer, the search is not over and without the helpful signposting that a personalised consumer journey can offer, the consumer will want to find something easier.
Asking For Consumer Data
Expanding on the previous point, travel companies should be aware that many consumers are willing to share data if it means they are given a worthwhile result in return. Four out of ten travellers would be willing to hand over data to travel companies if they offer a personalised experience and, while this doesn’t account for the entirety of the demographic, this shows that some consumers are willing to play a role in the exchange. Enhancing this with a personalisation tool like mporium ENGAGE will allow for more granular segmentation based on various data sets. The data can then be used to provide consumers with the best options to choose from.
Give The Consumers A Choice
Asking consumers to create a brief profile may enable travel companies to provide a series of rudimentary options that, while not as sophisticated as a personalised wizard, will evoke interest in the consumer and force them to consider the options.
Whilst it is important to consider that too many choices may have an adverse effect on consumer conversion rates, presenting consumers with a series of choices will correctly frame this stage of the sales funnel. This, in turn, will alter the decision-making process and force the consumer to make a choice based on the framework they are presented with. If the consumer isn’t presented with a series of options, they are not cognitively predisposed to make a decision. These choices must be based on the data that has been gathered from the consumer in order to be both timely and relevant.
There are a number of key factors that need to be considered when attempting to personalise a travel website, and although ideally, it would be best to create a means of coding all potential options before matching them with consumer responses, this approach may be extremely time-consuming.
The most pressing issue for travel companies looking to reap the benefits of personalisation is shifting the demands on the consumer. Offering consumers the chance to be told which holiday would be best for them would negate the need for consumers to conduct their own extensive research and could help instil an intrinsic sense of trust in the brand.
Do you feel travel companies take full advantage of personalisation? How would you improve a website you’ve used recently? Let us know in the comments section below or get in touch on Twitter @mporiumgroup.