Travelers are more empowered then ever, they can get anything they want at any time. They are demanding, impatient and want to consume information in a fast clear and personalized way that creates value for them.
But how do you do that, and how do you know what kind of information a traveler needs when. To make this insightful many tourism companies use Customer Journeys to map the information needs of their target audiences.
In short a customers journey helps you with reaching potential customers at the right moment, and communicate with them in a relevant way according the situation they are in. You are using a customers journey mapping tool to help your travel business to understand the information needs on the path to purchase of your most important persona's.
Main Phases of a Travelers Customer Journey
A customers journey starts with being inspired by the best available experiences of a travel company or destination and ends with experiencing that experience and preferable sharing on social media about how great the experience was.
In General a Customer Journey will look something like: Getting Inspired - Start Planning a destination - Start Selecting Service Providers - Start Booking Services Providers - Go to a destination - Enjoy the book experiences - Share About Booked Experiences - Returns Home - Shares Home.
Some travelers will be returning depending on the destination, some travelers move on and will get inspired to visit other places.
Just a few of your potential customers finish the journey most of them drop out some change destination, some drop your company during the selection procces, some suddenly get back on track after seeing, hearing or experiencing something that inspires them again.
A customer will use different devices to consume information during this journey, during breakfast they might see an inspiring travel add in a newspaper, then the search more about what they saw on their mobile in the train to work. The forget about it for a while and suddenly see an Ad on TV that reminds them after which the next they search further on a desktop at their work. Especially for multi day trips this journey can go on for months.
Especially in the travel industry people do lots of research and more then 100 hundred online searches before doing a booking is very common.
To succesful guide the customer through the whole journey, your travel organisation needs to be assistive and valuable during the whole customer journey. Which you can only do if you know your customers inside out.
Creating a Customer Journey for your travel organisation.
While mapping the journey your customer will take, you want to decide what you want them to do at the moments you are interacting with them. Without always trying to sell, being helpful while building on a trust relation probably guides more potential clients to a booking than being to commercial to fast. The idea is you try to be assisitive to your potential customer all the journey long and beyond. Converting your persona into a loyal brand ambassador who loves you.
But this is not an easy task, customers are well informed and educated about your destination and loose interest when offered travel information is not line with their interests, personalities, and behaviors.
Because this is so difficult i recommend to create customers journeys for max 3 persona's, maybe even max 2 if you want to do it really good, you can't please everyone.
You should not know your customers very well, you should also have a clear understanding of who you are. This helps to bring your message across in a brand consistent way that is aligned with the values of your company.
Once you have created your persona's and set your vision, mission and values you can craft your customer journeys.
Select the customer journey phases that apply for your business and make a table in google docs of word so you can dump information needs of your customer per phase: you can use this customer journey template if you like.
What is your persona dreaming about ? What kind of info do they need about your destination ? Your company ? Your tours ? When do they need which information ? In what kind of context ? How will they search for it ?
Optimize a Customers Journey
Because the journey is also a kind of funnel not everyone who is inspired will become a client, its important you devide your attention in a smart way on the different phases, putting to much emphasizes on the last part of the journey, will make you missing out on opportunities. To much inspiration without a proper way to be helpful and have the proper sales tools in place will lead to marketing campaigns with no or little returns.
A smart way of getting lost people back in your journey and or reconfirm travelers that they are on the right path, is understanding that your customer is also having journeys for related products in your destination, think about hotels, restaurants, attractions, events, other trips in your destination. Have partnerships with such related business or being visible in the journeys towards such services can be a very succesful tactic.
It also works the other way around, after a customers purchased something on your website, the journeys of the paths to purchase for your partners might continue, like for a tour operator after a booking searches go further for the right clothes, vaccinations, suitcases, transport etc.
Helping your customers that trust you, with an easier journey for other related services could intensify the bond with your customer but also with partners that can help bring customers to your business.
You can think about this as up selling other services, but if you aproach this from a helpful perspective where you are a guide in your customers journey i believe the returns for all in the network will be higher.
Very few travel companies do this good, an example is Tauck who created an app that gives travelers suggestions what their customers can do during their free time while on holiday with them.
Looking at the rates in the play store (2.3 in June 2020) they didn't nail it according to their customers, which shows again how difficult it is,to create value for customers and its not only the information that needs to be right but also the usability and the presentation. Though if your read the comments in the play store Tauck seemed to have more of a technical problem.
Being able to communicate to your customers through an app, your own or a partners app can be extremly powerfull, because a mobile plays such a central role in the lives of people, and app can trigger things based on movements, location, etc you can't do yet with a website. The instant feedback, gamifcation and other possibilities are endless and really cool, but they cost money and dedication to develop and improve, just like a website a mobile app is never finished.