Tour operators should make it easy to communicate but also have to make sure interactions are efficient. According to Peelen & Beltman (2013), most interactions between customer and supplier are quite poor. Most relevant conversation happens before or after a tour. Simply processing a request, registering and reacting to a complaint or suggesting solutions in a way that shows concern and importance will be very essential in bettering customer-supplier relationship.
To enhance customer-supplier relationship, tour operator companies must analyze their internal environment. Tour operators should have contact persons with the skills and expertise to deal with customers and place the customers’ interest before the company’s interest. This will lead to trust and there is a higher likelihood of overcoming feelings of uncertainty and doubt. After trust, personal commitment is one of the ultimate goals for building a relationship with your customers. Personal commitment is “the desire someone displays to continue a relationship” (Peelen & Beltman,2013). It is the only one that is felt internally and derives from a personal choice. Tour operators should thus not feel obligated to display personal commitment, but instead have the ‘want’ to do so.
Another, and initial, way of enhancing customer-supplier relationship for tour operators is to have knowledge about the customer. In order to know your customer, a customer profile must be made. It must present a realistic idea about who the customer is as a person, what has the customer purchased, how do they prefer to communicate and what might be of interest to them. It is recommended to collect as much information as possible to develop relationships that is mutually profitable. For example, Emerald is an IT system for tour operators which analyses and control customer relationships: from the first contact through to bookings and the resulting categorization up to customer feedback and new bookings (Isotravelcom, 2016).
Furthermore, tour operators should provide personalized customer-supplier relationship in an effortless manner. According to Easen (2016), conversational commerce is such a big trend currently and the customer can initiate engagement with the company. Conversational Commerce refers to using a messenger application such as WhatsApp, Facebook and other messenger service providers to interact with a company. The term Conversational Commerce was made up by Chris Messina, Developer Experience Lead at Uber. (Customerthinkcom, 2016) Tour operators can make use of conversational commerce to enhance customer-supplier contact by using a popular messaging application for customer satisfaction. Tour operators can meet customers where they are already spending most of their time makes this ideal for bettering customer-supplier relationship.
Lastly, another way to build a relationship with customers is to provide incentives to continuously use the services of the company. An example of this is the Customer Loyalty Program. The idea of this is to reward customers who book the company’s tour services frequently. If used correctly, it can create a sense of community among loyal customers and also give customers a fun reason to continue to return to the company. The rewards can be some kind of membership to loyal customers club, annual discounts on gifts and services, and special perks (Isotravelcom, 2016).
In conclusion, the relationship between customers and companies is key to not only success for the company, but also gives customers the incentive to return and/or suggest the company to even more potential customer. Tour operators should have a professional but personal relationship with the customers to give the sense of a unique experience. Good customer services and programs such as the Customer Loyalty Programs will create efficient customer-supplier interaction which will lead to customer engagement.
Customerthinkcom. (2016). Customerthinkcom. Retrieved 17 September, 2016, from http://customerthink.com/conversational-commerce-and-what-it-means-for-your-customer-strategy/
Easen, N. (2016). Customers expect more than ever. Customer Eperience & Loyalty. Raconteur. Retrieved 17 September, 2016, from https://raconteur.uberflip.com/i/708792-customer-experience-and-loyalty
Isotravelcom. (2016). Isotravelcom. Retrieved 17 September, 2016, from http://www.isotravel.com/assets/documents/brochure-emerald-en.pdf
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management.Pearson.
Trainingaidorg. (2016). Trainingaidorg. Retrieved 13 September, 2016, from https://www.trainingaid.org/news/loyalty-travel-program-examples-tips-and-ideas-tour-operators