In today’s rapidly changing industry, a good balance of channels is one of the best ways to ensure your travel agency’s sustainable future. Channels have always had the power to transform markets or even economies; they provide customers with contact to organisations and can notably affect the revenues and cost structure of an organisation (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
The optimal channel combination according to Peelen & Beltman (2013) should be based on 3 aspects:
1. the range of channels and which channels to use in which touch points
2. the degree of differentiation and
3. the controllability
After the best range of channels for your specific target market has been determined, you as an agency should specify which channels are to facilitate with which touch points during the customer journey. In other words, which channels are used when it comes to orientation, planning, buying, experiencing and after sales process? (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
Understanding the customer’s journey and their need for information at all stages along the way is crucial (McKean, 2013). So start with thinking about the stages the customer goes trough before actually becoming your customer.
Orientation: The possible customer begins to think about booking a holiday and gets encouraged by the tours and activities he/she could find. So what could you do to steer his/her orientation to your travel agency?
Trying to promote on every possible network or distribution channel will most likely NOT turn out into the desired outcome. Rather try to concentrate on the places/networks where your target customers are. Develop a social media strategy in order to attract travellers to the destinations you are specialised on. You could also start a blog – not only to inspire people but also to increase your chances of being easily found on Google. Building local partnerships might even be an option to stimulate attention and word of mouth advertising.
Planning: Once the customer has found your travel agency he/she will wonder if you will be the best option to fulfil the ideas of the holiday. Keep in mind that the most convincing way for your customer to book with you will be extraordinary customer service and consulting. Consider using email/telephone marketing to stay in touch with your customer during the deciding process.
Booking: You made it possible to convince your customer to decide for your holiday offer. If you offer booking online on your website, introduce “book now” buttons for extra excitement and speeding up the process. Create a sales-optimized website which is easy to handle, book with and do payments. You can possibly even create online systems with log in details where your customer can find all information regarding the trip, destination, events and more.
Experiencing: If you accompany the customer before, during and after the holiday you will most like surpass his/her expectations and increase the likelihood of him/her becoming a repeat customer. The better you treat your customer, the better the review will be. Introduce automated emails/postcards to thank your customer and end his/her holiday with a positive thought. Build loyalty and provide them with discount specials for their next trip.
After sales/sharing: Use your chance of free word of mouth promotion. Remind your customer to write a review for your website or other reviewing systems you use. Stay in touch with them by sending occasional e-mails or letters informing them about news, discounts, specials etc. You can also try to suggest sharing their special moments in terms of photos on social media and tagging your agency.
Fuggle. L (2016). A marketing guide for each stage of the travel customer journey. Retrieved 5th October, 2017 from https://www.trekksoft.com/en/blog/marketing-across-customer-journey
McKean, P. (2013). Multi-channel customer service in the travel sector: Are we nearly there yet? Retrieved 5th October, 2017 from https://www.mycustomer.com/community/blogs/pmckean/multi-channel-customer-service-in-the-travel-sector-are-we-nearly-there-yet
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013) Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.