A great deal of importance is attributed to the way a customer is being involved in the process of value creation (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Focusing on the customer can be very important but can potentially be a burden. Many companies have resorted to new inventions and programs in order to create customer engagement during the creation process such as co-creation and mass customization. However, unnecessarily costs have come from these programs (Gilmore & Pine, 2013).
Mass customization has been embraced by many companies in order to avoid downfalls and also to involve customers in the creation process. This approach can be used by tour operators to create better customer engagement. Mass customization can be defined as “each customer provides unique information so that the product may be tailored to their specific needs” (Peelan & Beltman, 2013). Mass customization adds a new dimension that highlights the relationship between a tour operator and its customers. It has four approaches which are collaborative customization, adaptive customization, cosmetic customization and transparent customization (Peelan & Beltman, 2013). There is a choice to pick one approach otherwise combine two or more approaches to provide a relationship between tour operators and its customers.
The first approach is cosmetic customization. This is “a simple adjustment in the product’s exterior (representation)” (Peelan & Beltman, 2013). This approach can be implemented by individualizing the product by sending an email with a brochure or video of a package tour to each customer with their name on it. Although these brochures and videos are the same for every customer, a simple modification can make the customer feel the package tour is exactly for them and make the clients more engaged.
Another approach is transparent customization. This is when “a company adapts the product but not the representation. This approach is suitable when the customer‘s wishes are predictable, or when customers do not wish to repeat their preferences every time” (Peelan & Beltman, 2013). Tour operators can implement this approach by keeping records of their customer’s personal preferences so they can tailor to their needs when creating an ideal tour package. This approach results in a desirable experience for the customer because tour operators can customize and optimize tour packages to fits into the standard tour package which will lead to an enhancing of the customer’s preferences to keep booking with the tour operator.
The third approach is collaborative customization. This is “adapting the product and representation. This approach is suitable for companies whose customers do not find it easy to convey what they want” (Peelan & Beltman, 2013.) Tour operators can create personal tours, where customers work with the tour operator to identify which country, accommodation, excursions and transportation they want in their personal tour. With the widespread use of the internet, this approach can be adopted and implemented by tour operators. For example, a tour operator by the name of YourWay2Go is a Dutch travel specialist for individual travel to more than 30 countries (Yourway2gonl, 2016). On their website the customer has the opportunity to create their own tour which includes choosing destinations, accommodations, excursions and means of transport catered to their liking.
The last approach is adaptive customization, “in which neither the product nor the representation is adapted. A company with an adaptive customization strategy offers one standard product that is designed such that users themselves can adapt it to suit their own needs” (Peelan & Beltman, 2013). Tour operators have standard tour packages but the customers have the option to adjust which country, accommodation and excursions within the alternatives that the tour operator has, in order to meets his or her preference. For example, the tour operator Yourway2go.nl, also have an option where they have standard packages and the customers could change either accommodation or transport to their liking. (Yourway2gonl, 2016).
In conclusion, mass customization is a strategy that will benefit tour operators because it helps them create efficient customer engagement and involve customers in the value creation process. The four approaches of mass customization provide a structure for tour operators to customize tour packages for customer. In addition, tour operators may have more success if they combine two or more approaches. Even though, mass customization can be costly, it will still create value to tour operators. With the use of internet and the right application, mass customization will help tour operators meet the needs of individual customers.
Barman, S. (2013). An Overview of Mass Customization in Practice. Retrieved 23 September, 2016, from http://gebrc.nccu.edu.tw/proceedings/APDSI/2013/proc/P121210001.pdf
Gilmore, J., & Pine, B. (2013). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 23 September, 2016, from https://hbr.org/1997/01/the-four-faces-of-mass-customization
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management.Pearson.
Yourway2gonl. (2016). Yourway2gonl. Retrieved 25 September, 2016, from http://yourway2go.nl/