The Power of a Travel Communications Platform
Sale and sail—the two most celebrated moments in the cruise industry’s customer journey. But what is a journey with a beginning, end, and a so-so middle? What about the customer experience between booking and embarkation?
Armed with a new communications solution, innovative cruise companies are now learning that the customer journey doesn’t have to ebb and flow. Rather, it can gain momentum over time, shattering the long-held standard that the transactional “in between” period is less valuable than its counterparts.
The Second Impression Is Just as Important
A booking confirmation signifies an important purchase decision to the customer, and the follow-up documentation can create a strong and lasting impression. With this critical communication driven by a transactional process – a booking made in the reservation system – it is unsurprising why it typically lacks personality and excitement. Outlining the itinerary, dates and all-important costs (deposit paid and remaining balance), it provides all the essentials of its purpose – confirming the booking.
However, bland and utilitarian communications that don’t match an enriched online experience can leave a once excited customer deflated or, at worst, confused and remorseful. This loss of brand power can result in an immediate emotional drop off and missed opportunities for the cruise company.
Inform, Inspire, and Engage
The average gap between booking and embarkation is between 9-12 months. That’s a lot of time for buyer’s remorse to creep in from lackluster or disjointed transactional communications, even when leading up to a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Conversely, it is also an enormous amount of time to keep customers engaged. When done right, the “return-on-conversion” opportunities in this timeframe are endless.
Are your transactional communications building or deflating customer’s excitement? Do they inform and prepare in a way that makes people pay attention? When it comes to offering packages and add-on experiences, do they inspire customers to purchase as much as when they were first marketed to? With every touch, are customers likely to advocate your brand? If not, you’re leaving revenue on the table.
According to McKinsey & Company, customers are 69% more loyal to a company that personalizes their online and offline customer experiences. While many companies strive to achieve personalized engagement, the process is often managed using systems that don’t talk to one another—a traditional email marketing system to drive an automated marketing-based customer journey in parallel to the transactional journey (required to manage any booking or itinerary changes and payment reminders and acknowledgements). The result will almost always be a fragmented and incoherent customer experience.
A Better Journey
The d-flo TravelComms platform was developed specifically to integrate all the rich media and engagement tracking capabilities of an email marketing system with powerful data transformation and content aggregation, delivering enriched and ultra-personalized customer journeys.
By using d-flo’s TravelComms to manage the before-you-board communications, historically separate information from Content Management Systems, Customer Relationship Management systems – and content from other third-party providers – is aggregated in a single, highly flexible solution, giving all documents the same look and feel and incorporating the same tone of voice. Transactional data is automatically transformed into compelling communications delivered by the customer’s chosen method. So companies will see customers more engaged, more loyal and providing more referrals. And all the while having a full 360 view within a Customer Data Platform of the all-important engagement tracking information.
The value increases from there, with communications along with the journey itself able to be dynamically personalized to each customer, their booking and the itinerary. Customers feel unique instead of spoken to en masse. Using the economies of scale, this communications journey can dynamically represent and differentiate the brand or multiple brands under one company.
The d-flo travel communications platform also means a seamless solution for employees. Integrated without affecting business processes, the platform architecture ensures efficiency while minimizing redundancy and inconsistent brand image, which can erode a brand over time.
Simply put, TravelComms ensures that the middle of your customer’s journey remains as exciting as the beginning. They’ll arrive to the ship as the most engaged and informed customers your crew has ever seen. And they’ll come back for more.