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CRM IN FIVE YEARS

BY GEORGE MUNDEN, CRM EXECUTIVE

What’s Tom Cruise got to do with this?

Whenever I hear people talk of the ‘future’ in the world of marketing and CRM, my mind instantly goes back to the Classic Tom Cruise film, Minority Report. The infamous scene I think of is where an interactive advert speaks to Cruise’s character after a retina scan. “John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now!” the billboard says to him. Well, what if it wasn’t a Guinness but a holiday instead. “John Anderton! You could use a trip to the Maldives next week!” an advert could say as you walked past it. How far away are we from seeing this futuristic world painted to us in this cult classic? Whilst we are not at minority report level just yet, we are in fact starting to see interaction from display ads, like with the NHS’ augmented reality billboard that recently went up, where a person’s health on the ad improved as the more people virtually donated blood through their Smartphone’s. As well as this, brand to consumer interactions are fast becoming the futuristic and personalised communications that we saw in the film.

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The future of CRM in the travel industry will mean travel providers will have a great in-depth understanding of who the customer is, why they want to go on holiday and where they want to travel to as well. This means brands will know John Anderton wants to go to the Maldives before he’s even told anyone and all without scanning his eyes.

We’re swimming in data...

Consumers share a wealth of data about themselves when booking a holiday. Effective CRM activity can capture information that can be used for retargeting not only just within CRM activity but also through non owned channels such as social media and with display advertising too. For example, travel companies can find out if a customer has children, is it a family activity based holiday that they usually enjoy, do they just prefer a good last minute deal and is it a birthday or an anniversary that’s being celebrated and then accordingly incorporate this into their communications. This is just what some of the data that the latest technology allows us to view. This explosion in data and technology allows for greater analytics to be drawn up. These results can lead to communications that are far more advanced with personalisation and enhanced targeting. However, in order to make every interaction with the consumer meaningful, communications must make use of this data and the technology available to them. Consumers are now used to seeing their data translate into meaningful communications for them, like Amazon customers getting used to receiving emails from them about products that they know they will like. To collect this data and not use it to benefit the customer is a crime holiday brands cannot commit! Travel brands need to think of the variety of ways they can collect this data and combine that with external information to create the best experiences possible.

If travel providers develop a greater understanding of their customer’s needs they are able to predict consumer’s future travel plans. For example, if it’s an anniversary being celebrated, then the travel providers can then send communications in a year’s time as they celebrate the next one. Or if they need to plan ahead and travel around kid’s half terms, then some consumers won’t care for last minute getaways on sightseeing cruises of the Northern Lights, they can instead receive messages that could be much more appealing and engaging, like a family trip to Florida in the summer holidays. But everybody’s situation is different just as individual’s personal data will be different. Some may want to see these kind of trips to Florida and also last minute couple getaways once they’ve found a babysitter. But what is important is that brands understand this and collect their data in almost ‘minority report’ level real time and then engage with people with relevant messages based upon their actual needs rather than needs brands are trying to create with campaigns. 

Going above and beyond by hardly doing anything at all!

However, the enhanced customised experience doesn’t have to just stop at the booking process. The customer engagement can continue whilst the consumer is actually on the holiday too. Having understood people’s needs and preferences, travel brands can speak to people in real time through their Smartphone’s as they plan out their holiday itineraries on the day. Consumers can see a plethora of activities for them to plan day by day to keep the kids occupied. As well as this, they could receive real time communications about if the worst happens, the weather turns. If it’s raining the list of possible activities could simply adjust to those that are more indoors. Small pieces of communications that will be effortless with the latest technologies, but small efforts nonetheless that will enhance the holiday experience and the customer’s connection with the travel brand considerably. Some holiday brands are already adopting these practises and creating concierge like apps for user’s phones and tablets to use whilst on holiday. The MyThomson app created by TUI is a perfect example of this. This app allows people to check in to the hotel, view inspirational holiday destination guides, as well as viewing all the top must-sees and actually purchase tickets for any excursions that are close by. This is a great demonstration of how a brand has made the holiday and booking experience much more personalised and engaging, on the go technology is perfect for travellers of the world.

So essentially..

  • CRM in the travel industry can seize upon a wealth of digital data now available to marketers.
  • Any typical customer journey can now be optimised and enhanced by providing relevant content at every step along the way.
  • The potential for CRM excellence in this sector is huge. Travel brands have some fantastic content to work with. They host the things people love. The things people can’t control their excitement for and then remember fondly for years to come.

So with all this in mind, how much do you know about your customers? Are you ready for the future?