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Keep your customers coming back: lessons from the rebounding travel market

by Malachy Bell18 April 2023 5 Min Read

Good customer experience is the foundation of returning customers. When you’re faced with a setback, optimising each step of the customer experience is one way to offer real value. But what does that look like in terms of tangible product features? 

One of the best places to look for innovation ideas is in the industries hit hardest by the pandemic. Take travel and hospitality. From travel bans to record profits, the industry has seen major disruption. As people rush to travel again, once-in-a-lifetime bookings have put the focus on premium customer experiences. Kuoni, for example, recently saw a surge in long-haul bookings and Ennismore is set to open nearly 30 new hotels in 2023. 

Now, companies like Airbnb, Byway and Soho House are leading the way with best-in-class product features. From onboarding to discovery and loyalty, let’s take a look at how travel and hospitality companies are optimising their end-to-end experience to sustain value and keep customers coming back.

1. Onboarding opportunities

90% of companies lose potential customers during the digital onboarding process. But Airbnb offers the gold standard when it comes to frictionless sign-ups in travel and hospitality - and beyond. It’s as simple as giving customers the choice of multiple sign-up options including email, Facebook, Google and Apple. 

But sign-up is the easy part. Most companies offer the same straightforward sign-up as Airbnb. Onboarding is where you can really stand out and get to know your user. Take Byway, who offer a ‘build trip’ feature which captures users’ preferences early and enables personalisation from the get-go. 

When building your onboarding journey, be sure to: 

  • Gather preferences during and after sign-up 

  • Remind users of the benefits to reinforce the value and encourage usage

  • Be creative with data capture so it doesn’t feel like death by form and check box

2. Discovering the collective

It's no secret that Netflix do a great job of helping users navigate an overwhelming amount of options. Their Collections like 'watch in one weekend' show they understand customers beyond what customers know they want. But how can this be leveraged in travel and hospitality?

Booking a holiday or leisure experience is overwhelming when you’re faced with limitless options. Companies like Airbnb and have taken a leaf out of Netflix’s book to help customers narrow down their options.

Airbnb lets users search by type of experience, from ‘amazing views’ to ‘omg’ categories. follows a similar model and breaks collections into ‘themes’ like ‘budget-friendly getaways’. And Onefinestay takes it all a step further by elevating the simple destination search and creating bespoke landing pages for cities. 

Showing the user personalised recommendations (since you stayed at XX you might like XX) is a no-brainer. To take the experience further:

  • Give the user the option to shortlist properties and build a list of favourites

  • Utilise quiz-style questionnaires to find the user a suitable recommendation

  • Consider moving away from bog-standard categories to themes, collections and moods

3. Selling the proposition

Helping customers discover the right experience for them is one thing. Keeping them coming back to your product is a different game altogether. With loyalty and membership becoming more important, how you sell that proposition is crucial. 

Large organisations like Uber, Spotify and Asos use simple landing pages to sell their subscription services. Easy CTA’s and a clear focus on value make their offerings a no-brainer. 

Travel and hospitality businesses with existing membership and saving services use similar tactics. Soho House clearly communicates the benefits of signing up with straightforward imagery and matter-of-fact UI. Leaders Club have built a CTA around rewards and ‘joining a club’. And sells its membership proposition as soon as the user lands on their homepage. 

If you’re looking to nail your loyalty proposition be sure to: 

  • Show price comparisons with & without the membership i.e., ‘With your membership you’re paying £200 instead of £300’ 

  • Create a clear and single-minded call to action: ‘join the club’

  • Prioritise simple visual presentations of the features and benefits

Feel inspired?

Looking at pretty examples of gold standard CX is easy. What’s hard is implementing meaningful optimisations within the constraints of your organisation - especially in travel and hospitality where tech debt and legacy ways of working are commonplace.

If you’d like to find out more about how we help companies move from idea to action, drop me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

Ever since I was a boy I’ve dreamed of working in business development... Said no one ever!! But I do love meeting new people and helping cool businesses grow, so it all worked out in the end.
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