Whether that's a drink in a pub, a trip abroad, cheering on your favorite team in a football stadium or dancing at a major music festival, anticipation, an enjoyable, frictionless time, and the after-action are equally important in all of these experiences.
In fact, a recent study by PWC found that 86% of customers, generally, are willing to pay more for a service if it involves a great customer experience. Additionally, MarketingDive recently reported that - while expectations for different categories vary - consumer expectations, on average, increase by about 25% year-over-year. Now, in general, your customers' expectations are already higher, and there's no sign of this trend shifting anytime soon.
So, how do you live up to these expectations, or even better, exceed them? Indeed, surprising your customers in an industry where expectations are high already is no mean feat. But there is a way.
Main Focus On the Live Experience
While your focus might be on providing a great experience during the visit itself, a customer's encounter with your brand, and any expectations they may have, are not just limited to this moment. It starts with the first contact and extends before, during, and after. But the question is: how can you create and maintain engagement with your customers and turn them into ambassadors of your business? The answer can be found through technology, which offers great solutions to extend this customer journey and offer a smooth and seamless experience.
However, most businesses in the leisure and travel industry aren't digital native companies; their strengths lie within providing live experiences, with dealing with their customers face-to-face in real-world environments. It is therefore not easy for most of them when it comes to innovating through digitization. There's also the issue of having limited resources, such as time and funds, particularly of late thanks to the COVID pandemic which has lost the Leisure and Travel industry in 2020 alone millions in canceled flights and stays, missed reservations, canceled events, and staff shortages due to earlier layoffs and insecure perspectives. Digitalization, therefore, isn't always considered a priority, especially since most organizations see it as a costly investment.
Take, for instance, research by Deloitte that found 87% of companies think digitalization will disrupt their industry, but only 44% are prepared for potential digital disruption. At the same time, IDG's most recent State of Digital Transformation Report found that only 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformation strategies, likely due to complexity, time, or expense.
For example, In Skift's 2021 Digital Transformation Report, 26% of leisure and travel organizations cited "cost" when asked about the most significant barriers to employing digitalization, specifically switching more of what they do to the cloud. Another 17% mentioned a lack of experienced staff, while 14% noted potential IT or data security concerns.
Unlocking Benefits When Embracing Digitalization
However, the benefits of employing digitalization speak for themselves. According to the Digital Transformation Report by CorporateLeaders and PTC, executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%), and the ability to meet customer expectations (35%). This will have a big impact on the industry overall.
By 2025, digitalization in travel and tourism is expected to create up to $305 billion of value for the industry through increased profitability, according to the World Economic Forum report. This report also stated the sector will migrate $100 billion of value from traditional players to new competitors and generate benefits valued at $700 billion for customers and wider society. This is all thanks to digitalization through a reduced environmental footprint, improved safety and security, and cost and time savings for consumers.
Digitalization does not have to be a hurdle. It can be more straightforward if you want it to be while still creating a lot of value. It's easier than you think to create a synergy between live and online experiences and deliver the ultimate customer journey.
Two simple ways to digitally engage with your customers are as follows:
By sending communications based on specific actions. For example, after purchasing a ticket, when scanning a ticket, or when specifying personal preferences. By responding to your visitors' behavior, you might pleasantly surprise them at just the right moment.
By sending communication based on time-related to a specific moment, such as an hour before, during, or after an event.
There are solutions available for you no matter which area of the travel and tourism industry you're a part of. Not convinced? Here are some real-world examples:
It’s normal for people to forget things, but when it’s something essential, this can really ruin an experience. Being one step ahead of your customers and automatically sending them all the information they need before their travels or visit can mean the difference between a disaster or an excellent experience.
Any Way to Pay
Payments are an integral part of any experience, so you want to offer it in a way that suits your customer. Whether it is on your website, in a gift shop, or at the table in your bistro, being able to pay smoothly will make your customers leave with a smile.
No Need to Repeat
Your customers are expecting you to know purchases they’ve made and questions they asked in the past. By being aware of their past behavior and interactions, they don’t have to repeat themselves when they reach out to you again.
When people buy a ticket online, they just expect it to grant them access to a venue or perhaps an airplane. Why stop at just scanning the ticket, and not also turn it into a discount voucher for during their experience or a future purchase?
There are, of course, pitfalls that any business should be aware of when interacting with their customers on a digital level. For instance, you should ensure you're only engaging with them when it's relevant and keep the frequency at an acceptable volume to avoid potential spamming. This is easily learned and avoided if you follow the right steps.
How Digital Is Your Business?
Digitalization can provide you with the tools you need to effortlessly gather data, unearth intuitive insights and send personalized communication, all of which can help enhance your customers' experiences while providing a smooth and frictionless journey.
If you'd like to find out to what extent your business can benefit from digitalization, download the CM.com Digital Experience Checklist below, which will help you discover how tech-driven your experience already is and offer you advice on the next steps in your digital transformation.
We'd love to hear more about your current customer experience strategy and discuss further how this can be improved with digital tools, so please get in touch.