Web 2.0 is changing the way audiences interact with travel brands. User generated content [UGC] and social network sites such as Flickr, Youtube, and Yahoo Trip Planner are reshaping audience expectations and experiences. The authority figure is no longer the travel agent or the media - it is now the audience. Welcome to Travel 2.0.
In the Travel 2.0 era, the power is shifting.
In a Travel 2.0 environment, travel brands now need to meet and match their online audiences expectations and requirements with appropriate, engaging, entertaining, and targeted experiences.
As the online travel market matures and transforms, audiences are no longer content just to shop for price or read destination information written by marketers. Now more sophisticated online users are looking to connect and share with other travelers and with the content itself.
The Sheraton’s customer travel blog example can be seen as a forerunner in the travel 2.0 online landscape. User generated content in the shape of travel stories is displayed on their website. (Link: Sheraton, http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/index.html)
An Experience, not a room search.
To meet audience expectations you need to build an experience based upon what they want. Guests are no longer happy to just search for rooms, they want to connect and be connected. Technology is the enabling platform which helps to create this connection and create a rich, dynamic brand experience for your audience. Loyalty is moving beyond simply branding a card and throwing some enticements or entitlements together. Web 2.0 is not only changing the way consumers communicate but also the way brands communicate.
This article will present a web 2.0 toolkit for building better, deeper loyalty with your customers, based upon 5 new business tools: 1. Blogs
2. Rich Media
3. Social Networks
4. Email Marketing
5. Loyalty Monitoring
Tool 01: Blogs
Some of the very best practices for building loyalty with consumers are through richer communication. Blogs are a front-line tool for instant reach for brand-to-consumer communications. Tools like Blogs present a shift in the service paradigm from purely tactical technologies (call deflection, improving agent productivity) to accommodate more strategic engagements (targeted customer experiences coupled with increased wallet share).
This shift in focus repositions the lens squarely back onto the consumer as a strategy to build more valuable, deeper brand relationships. With this paradigm shift, comes the necessity of a sharper focus upon loyalty: What it consists of and how it can be shaped.
Blogs offer some critical loyalty benefits in both pre- and post-sales brand communications.
Key Blog Benefits:
▪ Direct and instant customer communications for promotions, products, service feedback etc ▪ Communicate with brand advocates [those who recommend] and detractors [those who actively discourage]. ▪ Provide platform for self-help beyond basic FAQ’s to reduce call center and support requests ▪ Improve brand to customer communication touchpoints
(Link: Avis, http://www.wetryharder.co.uk/)
Tools 02: Rich Media
Webinars, podcasts, and interactive content, all which offer deeper emotional experiences for website audiences beyond simply clicking and scrolling. Both online and offline rich media offers valuable market advantage by improving customer experiences with your brand and deepening loyalty.
Rich media achieves deepened loyalty through extending your brand’s core offering by making your brand more relevant, exciting, and accessible. Destination information is becoming less about purely information more about how you interact with the information.
Rich media enables your brand to convey your experience without compromising the purchase path. Ensure you have a clear purchase path mapped between experience and point of purchase, with timely call to...