Has multichannel marketing made customer engagement easier for Tour Operators?

multichannel_marketing
Source: http://comultichannel_marketingmmunicatiemakelaars.nl/hoe-goed-is-de-wereld-in-multichannelen/

Author: Lisanne Wiendels

The toughest challenge organizations face in Customer Engagement Management nowadays is multichannel management. Multichannel management refers to the organizations ability to interact with its customers through multiple channels which can be both direct and indirect. These direct and indirect channels are used to sell goods and services to customers (SAS,2015). The channels can be categorized as the Physical arena, Digital arena and the Social-media arena. The three arenas are of great importance in the multichannel marketing strategy of a Tour Operator as it is important to be where your customers are and nowadays customers make use of different arenas or sometimes multiple arenas. To briefly explain the difference between the arenas, the Physical arena is where the customers have direct contact with the organization which is case of the Tour Operator can be a travel agency. The Digital arena has to do with the visitation of the website, email traffic, and finally the social media arenas focuses on the Social media engagement of its customers which for example include Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. The main goal of multichannel management is finding ways to increase profit margins and revenue through customer contact, while at the same time improving the channels accessibility, offering a better customer experience and reducing the costs of the channel infrastructure (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013).

in order to answer the question whether or not multichannel marketing has made customer engagement for Tour Operators easier it is important to revise what Customer Engagement is. Van Doorn, J et al (2010), describes Customer Engagement  as the management of the customers’ behavioral manifestation towards a brand or firm, resulting from a motivational driver. The key elements in customer engagement are the building and maintenance of a relationship, create customer loyalty, engagement, creation of a customer database and multichannelling. Customer engagement management is a complex process and includes many elements therefor it may be hard to establish a simple yes or no to the questions whether or not Multichannel marketing has made customer engagement easier for Tour Operators.

The different channels of the Physical, Digital and Social media arenas provide the customers  different ways of communicating with the organization and can significantly affect the revenue and cost structure of the organisation (Peelen, E., & Beltman, 2013) however with offering the clients the opportunity to contact and reach out the organization through many different channels brings along some challenges. One of the challenges is for example targeted messaging this has to do with the fact that the customers have the opportunity to choose many different channels to engage with the Tour Operator, therefor it is hard for Tour Operators to deliver the right message to right audience. The customer must receive the message, but moreover the message has to be attentive receptive and the customer must be willing to act on it. Another challenge Tour Operators face is marketing response attribution. This has to do with the difficulty to know which channels, campaigns or sequence of touch points contributed to qualifies conversations and sales. Knowing what triggered each response would enable marketers to assess whether or not their marketing efforts were getting the best results (SAS,2015).

In addition the popularity and usage of certain social media platforms, such as Facebook can change and might play a different role for the customers overtime. According to JSH&A (2015) which is marketing communication agency in Chicago USA has researched the change in Social media usage, they have found that Facebook is no longer the key platform for customer engagement. Social media platform like Pinterest, Tumbler and Instagram gained more than 10 million followers in 2014. This shows that the Social media landscape is ever changing and other ways need to be found to effective channel and maintain social presence with customers in order to engage with them.

The usage of an analytic system such as Google Analytics will allow organization to look in to what triggered the customer to visit the website. For example Google Analytics allows the organization to see how many people entered the website through a certain link for example a Winter sport package campaign and monitor the online customer journey.  A recent development at TUI Ireland and UK  is the introduction of the Pegasystem Connect Platform which allows the organization to see the same data on customers through online, call centre and in-store channels, allowing staff to provide a personalized service by recognizing loyal customers more effectively. Which initially means that TUI has created an effective way to gain insight on where customers are located the Pyramid of relationships (Dataiq,2014). This shows that having an analytical program for a Tour Operator is important as it will increase customer knowledge and relationships.

Because of the complexity of Customer engagement and multichannel marketing we can conclude that in order for multichannel marketing to be a success knowledge on how to use the channels is important it also is of great importance to monitor if customers preference in channel changes and act on that accordingly. In the long run this will have a positive effect on customer engagement as knowledge is power.

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Bibliography

Dataiq. (2014). TUI overhauls its data strategy boost customer engagement. Retrieved from: http://www.dataiq.co.uk/news/20140828/tui-overhauls-its-data-strategy-boost-customer-engagement

Frankwatching. Social media marketing trends 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/01/09/5-social-media-marketing-trends-voor-2015-infographic/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

SAS. (2015). Multichannel marketing. Retrieved from: http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/marketing/multichannel-marketing.html

Van Doorn, J. et al (2010) Customer engagement behaviour: Theoretical foundations and research directions. Journal of Service Research 13(3): 253-266

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Tour operators – creating a complete customer profile

cem
Source: http://www.innometrics.com/how-to-create-a-complete-customer-profile/

Author: Lisanne Wiendels

One of the key elements of Customer Engagement Management is building customer knowledge. In order to build customer knowledge a Tour Operator needs a customer knowledge strategy, proper customer data management and use techniques such as segmentation and selection analysis and a retention and cross-sell analysis. When all this is put in place a customer profile can be determined. In order to create a complete customer profile a Tour Operator must gather data, however data will only become information if the Tour Operator can give meaning to the data it is gathering. Customer data can say something about the identity and profile of the consumer, this is of importance because once that is established,  products and services can be offered accordingly (Peelen, E., &Beltman,2013).

A customer profile is the complete overview of all information an organization holds about each of the customers. Organizations which would like to develop intensive relationships with customers will have to form an image of the customer as a buyer but also as a person because each customer is unique and is also is an unique individual. In order to form this specific image of the customer, segmentation and selection analysis’s are important. Segmentation is a research process in which the market is divided up into homogeneous customer groups that respond in the same way to marketing stimuli from the supplier (Peelen, E., &Beltman,2013).When an organization make investments in Customer Engagement Management or Customer Relationship Management applications obtain significant intangible benefits, such as improved customer knowledge and customer satisfaction. Achieving such customer focused business objectives is a critical part for success in increasingly competitive markets (Mithas, S., Krishnan, M. S., & Fornell, C., 2005).

Creating a good customer profile is a complicated process and the quality of the profiles vary from organization to organization. When an insignificant amount of information and data is used to create the customer profile, marketers can struggle to target the segments effectively. The most common reasons for organizations to not be able to create a useful customer profile  is the lack of technical knowledge within the marketing team to access different databases across the business. Another reasons is a too large and complex IT infrastructure which makes it difficult to look for data. The result of this would be that the needed data to create the customer profile is stuck in the internal database together with the insight it contains (Innometrics,2015).

The profiles contain information from different sources such as demographic and event data, past behavioural data and static characteristics. It also provides the organization with an insight into who the customer is, how he or she has interacted with the brand in the past and which previous purchases were made (Innometrics,2015). It is important to use different sources of information to create a complete customer profile. Examples of the most common sources of information used to create customer profile are email interaction data, social engagement data, the CRM database, web behavioural data, clickstream data, recorded customer data, in-store data, external information and predictive data.

To close in a few of these sources one can say that email interaction is the data a Tour Operator  collects from email campaigns. By monitoring the success or response rate of the email interaction the Tour Operator can establish which of the customer segments is responding to this marketing stimuli. Almost similar is click stream data which is the process of collecting reporting and analyzing data about which pages visitors visit and in what order. A useful tool for recording this process is Google Analytics which is an analytical program and can be used to monitor online customer behavior.  The social engagement information on the other hand shows the organization whether the content has been shared with a wider audience across social media environments, for example when TUI published a weekend deal on Facebook, they can measure how many times this campaign has been shared and with whom.

The social-media strategy of a Tour Operator plays an important role in the social media environment. TUI has cooperated with MAINSTREAM which is an organization specialized in creating online strategies and monitoring online behaviour. This indicates that TUI finds the social media environment important and want to include this into their customer profile (upstream,2015). Finally the CRM database is also of crucial importance to customer profiles and it is constantly updated with new information as the relationship with the customer changes. The Tour Operator can analyse the data it contains to understand patterns of purchasing and identify opportunities to cross sell or upsell. Overall we can state that the customer profile is a collection of all customer data both online and offline and plays an important part of the organizations Customer Engagement Management.

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Bibliography:

Inometrics. (2015). How to create a complete customer profile. Retrieved from: http://www.innometrics.com/how-to-create-a-complete-customer-profile/

Mithas, S., Krishnan, M. S., & Fornell, C. (2005). Why Do Customer Relationship Management Applications Affect Customer Satisfaction?. Journal Of Marketing, 69(4), 201-209. doi:10.1509/jmkg.2005.69.4.201

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

 Upstream. (2015). Diensten. Retrieved from: http://www.upstream.nl/diensten/

Tour Operators and empathy with customers

Author: Lisanne Wiendels

According to Oxford dictionaries (2015), the definition of empathy, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Understanding what a customer feels and thinks is of great importance to a Tour Operator and should be an integrated part of the Customer Engagement Strategy. Building a relationship with a customer however requires an dynamic exchange of resources such as goods, services and information, this means that the whole process of Customer Engagement Management is important (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013). Overall empathy is well explained in the customer empathy map which can be seen below. The customer empathy map is designed to bring a certain level of customer focus by encouraging an organization to see the world through the eyes and ears of the customer, taking their state of mind and physical environment into account (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013).

When customers book with a tour operator, the tour operator or travel agent selling its products will be the first point of contact, nevertheless  all parties involved during the trip taken such as airlines, hotel and transfers will be part of the overall customer experience. The Tour Operator will always be the point of contact when customer have questions complaints or other requirements. Therefore in order to be successful it is important to have a good understanding of the customer relationship life-cycle. Relationship lifecycle management helps to identify the crucial moments in a relationship, those which deliver particular interest and effort to safeguard and expand customer value in both directions: the value of, as well as to, the customer (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013).

Customers expect to receive efficient, effortless, personalized service when they interact with a Tour Operators. Though nowadays good service is getting more difficult to deliver, this mainly has to do with the fact that customer service has become a complex system. What is important is to have are channels of contact available that are most user friendly to the specific segment of customers (Leggett, 2013).  When we take a closer look at the travel oriented customer journey it consists out of 5 stages, dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing, the empathy map should be used to understand how to act in each of the 5 stages. In the first stage when the customer is dreaming he or she is thinking about going on a holiday after that stage the planning phase will start, marketing from the Tour Operator, positive Word-of-Mouth or previous experiences play an important role in this stage. The same goes for the booking phase where the customer is actually booking the trip, good customer service is important, for example when customers experience difficulties during their online booking online chat assistant should be available. The experiencing stage is also crucial for the customer relationship with the Tour Operator, when something bad happens like a delay or a cancellation in one of the tours this might lead to dissatisfaction against the Tour Operator. When this happens negative Word-of-Mouth can be spread during the sharing stage.  during each of these stages it is important as a Tour Operator to anticipate and understand in what stage the customer currently is in order to meet its  needs and wants and provide good service accordingly, or in other words to change the pain into a gain.

Cross-sell and retention are ways of showing empathy with a customer as it demonstrates the organization has been paying attention to the customers’ needs and wants. Retention overall means holding on to a customer  who is intending to end the current relationship it has with the organization. The organization can hold on to the customer by listing and offering a solution that fits the need of the customer at that specific moment. An example is when a customer has a complaint about the transfer from and to the hotel the Tour Operator can act on this by stating they understand the customer and make sure this will not happen again in the future or a compensation could be offered. Cross-selling on the other hand is the sale of a product to current customers who are already purchasing a product from the organization. This could mean an extra service such as priority boarding or a travel insurance that could meet the clients’ needs (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013).

Customer-Empathy-Map
Source:: http://startupbisnis.com/contoh-business-model-generation-untuk-online-store-busana-muslim-menggunakan-customer-empathy-map/

 


Bibliography

Leggett, K. (2013). Navigate The Future of Customer Service. Forresster

Oxford dictionaries, (2015). Definitions. Retrieved from: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/empathy

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

 

Tour Operators and the importance of creating brand personality

BRAND. Collage with association terms on white background.
Source: https://www.yola.com/blog/why-brand-identity-and-logos-help-your-business/

Author: Lisanne Wiendels:

Customers are at the center of every organisation and also play an important role in the creation of a Customer Engagement Strategy. Without customers Tour Operators would not exist, this is why a good Customer Engagement Strategy is essential and vital to their success. In order for potential prospects to become a client Tour Operators need to work on establishing a relationship. The brand is the personality of an organization, just like in real life people are drawn to people that share the same interest and fit their personality therefore knowing your customer can help an organization to attract a specific segment and start a relationship.

Customer Engagement Management is described as management of the customers’  behavioral manifestation toward a brand or firm, resulting from motivational drivers (Van Doorn, J. et al, 2010). Customer Engagement Management is mainly focused on the analytical process of the online behavior of its customers. In order to  implement Customer Engagement properly specific roles and goals need to be set by the Tour Operators. One of the many  important strategies that needs to be set by the Tour Operators is the creation of a brand personality.

According to Investopedia (2015), a brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. It is said that  customers are more likely to purchase a certain product or service from a brand if its personality is similar to their own. Taking TUI Holland a market leader among Tour Operators in Europe as an example we see that the most important feature of their brand personality is the TUI smile. According to Peter Long the CEO of TUI, the TUI smile is the companies most valuable asset (TUI Travelcenter, 2015). Creating a brand personality that fits the personality of your customer is the first step to move customers up in the Pyramid of relationships. The pyramid of relationships summarizes the relationship between customer and supplier at a variety of levels. The levels prospect, customer, client, supporter, ambassador and partner indicate the lowest to highest possible customer-supplier relationship (Peelen, E., &Beltman,2013). Having a good brand personality could persuade potential customer to move from prospect to customer in the pyramid which can be seen below.

12067191_1001878379833899_1796628442_n (2)
Source: Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

Before an organisation can implement the brand personality strategy it is important to research how the products are currently perceived and compared to its competitive brands. The second step is to decide which brand personality is going to be of greatest value with regards to the targeted consumer segment and after the desired brand personality strategy can be executed. This final step can also be the enhancing or the modifying of the already existing brand personality (Smartmarketing,2012). This last thing is what TUI has done recently. Due to the changing customer needs and wants and the every changing market conditions they had to change their brand position. What they did is upgrade their products and offered less budget products, in addition they expanded towards more individualized products besides their sun & beach holidays in order to live up to the customers expectation.

In conclusion one can say that a brand personality strategy is of great importance not only because a personality defines who you are as an organization but also because this will attract customers who have the same mind-set, which makes it easier to engage with them.

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Bibliography

Investopedia, (2015). Brand personality. Retrieved from: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brand-personality.asp

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Smartmarketing, (2012). Developing and implementing brand personality. Retrieved from: https://smartamarketing.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/developing-and-implementing-brand-personality/

TUI Travelcentre, (2015). Brandbook. Retrieved from: http://www.tui-travelcenter.ro/uploaded_docs/TUI_brandbook.pdf

Van Doorn, J. et al (2010) Customer engagement behaviour: Theoretical foundations and research directions. Journal of Service Research 13(3): 253-266