Start optimizing interactions through digital channels to enhance the customer experience and gain a competitive advantage
The use of smartphones has grown exponentially during the last ten years, with a 73.9% increase in just half a decade. This means there are currently 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide (Statista, 2021). 80% of the world’s population are researching, booking, and connecting with travel brands through smartphones. Because of COVID-19, the travel industry was pushed to explore new technological frontiers, adapting to changing customer behavior. Now, consumers frequently and increasingly prefer contactless, frictionless, real-time interactions with brands.
Even with this knowledge, brands must understand the importance of bridging the gap between the customers’ physical and digital journeys to offer a seamless “phygital” experience. They must keep on identifying how to target digital touchpoints leveraging mobile technologies as the most ubiquitous device to drive brand engagement and sales.
It is therefore vital that hospitality companies consider a mobile-first approach within their strategy as they continue to develop a new kind of relationship with their customers.
We discuss three key ways the hospitality industry can strengthen their mobile strategy.
1. Empower customers with flexibility
Customers want to travel on their own terms and have control. This means having the freedom to choose and modify their journey, itinerary, or flight in a timely, convenient manner. They also want to be proactively notified about benefits or opportunities when traveling, and they prefer all of that to happen in one place. In fact, “57% of travelers want to use a single app to plan, book, and track travel…and over 70% of travelers in the U.S. always use their mobile phones while traveling.”
Native, mobile apps, and user-friendly platforms within businesses allow customers to move at their own pace. The assistance of notifications campaigns, constant A/B testing, and a clear integrated data model is essential to continue understanding customers’ behavior and to develop a faster iteration process.
Apps such as MyTSA, Expedia, Flighty, TripAdvisor, Skiplagged, and TripIt are already presenting multiple benefits for travelers, not only by saving time and simplifying their journey, but by offering better pricing. Skiplagged, for example, “takes advantage of “hidden city flights,” where flyers get off at a layover, instead of at the final destination… It also allows booking hotels, including last-minute deals and special offers.”
AtYourGate is another helpful app providing retail opportunities while customers are waiting for their next flight at the airport. Need food, an item of clothing, or a phone charger? Browse the app for nearby businesses instead of having to look around. There are also AI apps for flight forecasting which are AI-driven smart price prediction apps, featured by the Hopper application, for example, giving personalized recommendations about the best time to book a flight or hotel.
2. Use AI to target sales and improve the customer’s experience
The different uses of artificial intelligence have presented a world of opportunities for businesses, including the ability to enhance a consumer’s entire journey from inquiry to repeat visits. AI applications include advanced models, algorithms, predictive analytics, and personalized recommendations aided with geolocation data, which result in identifying real-time customers’ needs and preferences.
- AI data processing and analysis
Gathering information and insights based on data is key when it comes to customer behavior, feedback, surveys, polls, business results, and pricing strategies. AI applications in general aid in making the humanly impossible possible, processing huge amounts of data quickly, accurately, and in real-time, ensuring customer satisfaction. Immediately identifying unhappy customers allows for the application of corrective measures in a timely manner, providing strategies like compensation, discounts, or knowing when to involve a human agent to listen and act on their needs. It also provides the ability to analyze if there’s an upgrade or sales opportunity for a specific customer.
- AI Chatbots for customer support, travel booking, and running ML models
It can be a smart option to offer online customer service and assistance on social media platforms and instant messaging apps. It aids in answering guests’ questions quickly, provides valuable information, saves time, and gives support when a service rep is not available. Not only that, but it also allows companies to use this data to run ML models in order to identify sentiments or personalize their experience further. This helps to keep up with the customer’s expectations and demands, while also providing quality customer service. Chatbots on Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber work as travel agents as well and can offer users a personalized booking experience.
3. Create a pricing optimization plan
Prospects increasingly finish transactions on their mobile devices, and the focus is on how to optimize price points that best adjust to a customers’ willingness to buy (beyond room or flight prices…). A pricing optimization strategy can be built through advanced analytics models based on historical prices, market demands, and customers’ preferences. Businesses need to develop the right data capabilities and have an integrated technological stack covered while tapping into the power of big data. Some key benefits this can bring hoteliers are:
- Revenue management
“Hotels can use big data to…more accurately anticipate levels of demand for rooms. Key performance metrics include data such as past occupancy rates and current bookings. Also, big data can be used to predict demand and future trends…important for executing revenue management strategies successfully.” This, alongside considerations of holidays and seasonality, can help hoteliers to develop a plan on when, where, and how to offer lower or higher prices, special promotions, or upgrades the smart way.
- Segmented marketing
Big data helps companies define the best channels to reach certain audiences, and spend accordingly, increasing the understanding, engagement, and exposure with their customers or prospects. It can also help identify who their guests are, including their preferences and what they may be looking for. Distinguishing them, for example, as business or leisure travelers, and offering them services, products, or promotions tailored to their information, can give way to higher conversion rates and more successful results.
Exploring new strategies to stay ahead of the competition includes harnessing the power of mobile and digital channels to improve the traveler’s journey and optimize each of the interactions with a client. Achieving this also means adapting to the customer’s evolving needs and digital context to grant them features, services, tools, and products that fit their plans and preferences. Through the advantages of mobile technology, marketing efforts can result in not only a more successful response but also in building a stronger, long-lasting, improved relationship with the customer.
If you’d wish to find out more about how Globant can support your business goals and path towards reinvention, contact us.