Importance of multi-channelling in tour operating

Today one of the toughest challenges in CRM is multichannel management, including managing such complex and dynamic channels as social media and the internet. Why is it so important for tour operators to use the multichannel management? (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

What is multichannel management? Multi-channelling refers to the practice by which companies interact with customers via multiple channels, both direct and indirect, in order to sell them goods and services. Companies use direct channels, or ones in which the company proactively reaches the customer (direct email, catalogues) or indirect ones in which they push content via websites or social media. (Rouse, n.d.)

Multi-channelling is important for a various reason but this is the most important one: as a company you need to be where your customers are. Customers are on each and every channel, according to SAS (n.d.) multichannel consumers spend three or four times more than a single channel consumer. (SAS, n.d.)

So why is it so important for tour operators to implement multi-channelling for their customer relationship management? According to Peelen and Beltman (2013), multichannel management is one of the areas within Customer Relationship Management that is attracting a lot of attention and is rapidly developing. Owing to innovations in the channel environment. Customers are offered travel insurance which they can accept and pay for using their mobile phone just as they arrive abroad. It could be useful to have agents in the contact centre browse a website in real time alongside the customer, or change the role of the store from a point of sales to an experience hub for the brand. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

According to Payne and Frow (2004) the multichannel integration process has a critical role to play in Customer Relationship Management as it takes the outputs of the business strategy and value-creation processes of a tour operator and translates them into value adding interactions with customers. It involves making decisions about the most appropriate combination of channel participants and channel options through which to interact with the customers of the company and how to ensure the customer experiences highly positive interactions within those channels. The customer experience is a very important role within the multichannel strategies for tour operators. (Payne & Frow, 2004)

To conclude; Multichannel management increases the customer experience and the customer – supplier relationship of a tour operator. Customer experience is one of the most powerful competitive differentiators. While the quality of the customer experience is important, consistency is equally important. That’s because the customers experience of the tour operator brand as a whole, whether their interactions with the company are online, in a store, over the phone, or some combination of these. (SAS, n.d.)

References

Payne, A., & Frow, P. (2004). The role of multichannel integration in customer relationship management. Cranfield: Cranfield University.

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is Multichannel Marketing? Retrieved from TechTarget: http://searchsalesforce.techtarget.com/definition/multichannel-marketing

SAS. (n.d.). Multichannel Marketing, what it is and why it matters. Retrieved from SAS : http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/marketing/multichannel-marketing.html

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Influence of EU Personal Data Protection Act on e-marketing strategy of touroperators

Within the field of information management or customer knowledge management, distinctions have always been made between data, information and knowledge. For example a business can find out the date on which a prospect became a customer, the value of the last purchase, the term within which payment was made and the customer’s address. The data say something about the identity and profile of the customer; as a result, it becomes possible to create an image of the customer. Information becomes knowledge as soon as action is taken on the basis of this information; because the customer’s profile is known, we know when we should offer them which products or services. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

Recently there is a new European Personal Data Protection Act for their citizens. Data protection of citizens of the EU are protected better in the recent privacy regulation. Companies must comply with this regulation. (ANVR, 2015)

How will this personal data protection act affect the e-marketing strategies of tour operators?

The first question is; what is in the Personal Data Protection Act?
“Under EU law, personal data can only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose. Furthermore, persons or organisations which collect and manage your personal information must protect it from misuse and must respect certain rights of the data owners which are guaranteed by EU law.

Therefore, common EU rules have been established to ensure that your personal data enjoys a high standard of protection everywhere in the EU. You have the right to complain and obtain redress if your data is misused anywhere within the EU.” (European Commission, 2016)

A tour operator usually saves data of their employees and customers. According to Pitmans (n.d.) and Pinsent Masons (2008) the Data Protection Act will make it much more difficult to maintain this information. In a marketing context this means that communications should be clear as to who they are from and that when contact details are collected individuals should be told about the use for marketing purposes and generally how this will be done, for example by telephone, social media, email or WhatsApp.
(Pinsent Masons , 2008) (Pitmans , n.d.)

The new Data Protection Act will have a negative influence on the e-marketing strategies of tour operators. Transparency is a very important term for the online marketing of companies. It will be slightly difficult for a tourism organization to adapt their advertisements on their consumers. Consumers need to know what they can expect and they have to give their consent to a company to make use of their information. (Blackmer, 2016) (Hawkins, 2016)

References

ANVR. (2015). Travel Tomorrow Report. In H. Mahawat Khan, F. Oostdam, G. van der Voort, F. Radstake, V. Snijders, & F. Haverkort. Capgemini.

Blackmer, W. S. (2016, May 5). GDPR: Getting Ready for the New EU General Data Protection Regulation. Retrieved from Information Law Group: http://www.infolawgroup.com/2016/05/articles/gdpr/gdpr-getting-ready-for-the-new-eu-general-data-protection-regulation/

European Commission. (2016). Protection of Personal Data. Retrieved from Justice – Building an European Area of Justice: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/

Hawkins, A. (2016, January 28). What does General Data Protection Regulation actually mean for marketers. Retrieved from Smart Insights: http://www.smartinsights.com/marketplace-analysis/digital-marketing-laws/what-general-data-protection-regulation-actually-means/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

Pinsent Masons . (2008). The effect of the Data Protection Act on e-marketing. Retrieved from out-law.com: http://www.out-law.com/page-435

Pitmans . (n.d.). What is the Data Protection Act, and how does it affect my business? Retrieved from Directors Toolkit: http://www.pitmans.com/directors-toolkit/home/it-outsourcing-data-protection/what-is-the-data-protection-act-and-how-does-it-affect-my-business/

 

Individualised pricing policy in touroperating

A concept that get used more and more by tour operators are the customized products. This means that with online marketing, companies can collect data on consumers’ past purchases and shopping behaviour in remarkable detail, down to the seconds spent on specific internet pages. Therefore tour operators can adapt their products to their customers’ wants and needs. (Obermiller, Arnesen, & Cohen, 2012) (Chand, n.d.)

According to Ed Peelen (2013) individualised pricing is a distinct form of customized products. Each customer thinks and acts differently towards the products of a tour operator. Demand for the product depends upon the psychology of the consumers. Sensitivity to price change will vary from consumer to consumer. In a certain situation the behaviour of one consumer may be different from the other individual. The pricing decision depends on the flexibility of the price itself. Furthermore according to Destination NFW (2012) it is necessary for a company to ensure their consumers purchase the offered product and distributors promote it, the price must be consistent, accurate and competitive. (Destination NFW, 2012) (Chand, n.d.) (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

How does individualised pricing policy actually work and is it important for tour operators to use this strategy?  According to the report Customized Pricing: Win-Win or End Run?’ (2012), the same data bases are used for the individualised pricing policy to customize ads or products will make it possible for tour operators to estimate what each individual consumer is willing to pay and to set a price based on that.

“Dependent on the time and the situation, even individual customers will not always have the same valuation for the proposition. None the less, a company deciding always to charge everyone the same average price implies that it is prepared to accept a lower level of profit. It would then seem that while individual customers experience the advantages of customer relationship management, the supplier does not quite dare to derive the maximum profit from it, and allows a price premium to be lost” (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

In the theory of Peelen & Beltman (2013) there is an opposite side to this pricing policy which can conclude it is not always possible to use this strategy even though it is a very important tool in your customer relationship management. In most cases tour operators are working with customized advertisements and products for their clients. There is a certain type of individualised pricing policy available in most of those pricing strategies.

In brief, individual pricing policies are very important for tour operators to remain in the sight of the customer. Furthermore an individualised pricing policy will help to build a strong customer-supplier relationship.

 

References

Chand, S. (n.d.). Pricing Policies: Considerations, Objectives and Factors involved in Formulating the Pricing Policy.

Destination NFW. (2012). Chapter 3 – Pricing your tourism product. In Tourism Business Toolkit Vol 2 (p. 15). Sydney.

Obermiller, C., Arnesen, D., & Cohen, M. (2012). Customized Pricing: Win-Win or End Run? Seattle: Drake Management Review.

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

The importance of fast responsiveness on social media

Internet is one of the most used sources nowadays. Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today. The number of internet users has increased in huge amounts of numbers from 1999 to 2013. Furthermore social media is a fast growing community service as well. According to Brandwatch (2016) there are 2.3 billion active social media users and 91% of the retail brands are using 2 or more social media channels. Now, 38% of organizations plan to spend more than 20% of their total advertising budgets on social media channels in 2015. But how do these brands maintain their social media? How active are they on their social media accounts? Now, the most important question is: why is it so important to have a fast response rate on social media? (Smith, 2016)

Fast responsiveness on social media is a very important part of Customer Engagement Management and Customer Intimacy. According to Treacy and Wiersema, customer intimacy strategy is characterised by the fact that companies build up a relationship with customers. It is not about the company but the individual wishes and desires of the customer. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

With more and more consumers turning to social media as a source for customer service, and positive customer service experiences on social media proving to increase sales and brand recommendations, it has never been more important that your business be readily available to meet the needs of its customers online. But how is does it work?

If a tour operator, for example TUI is on a social media channel; they will most likely receive hundreds of questions and complaints from customers. This can vary from daily to every hour or even every minute. It really depends on how well known and big your organization is. The important thing is: customers love to know that you appreciate it that they chose you instead of a competitor. Regardless of industry, the customers are already using social media channels like Twitter or Facebook to talk about you, and being present to take part in the conversation is necessary. As a matter of fact, providing customer service through a tour operator’s social media page(s) is not all that different than providing it by any other means. (Marban, 2014) (Beese, 2013)

So the question is: will the company be there for their customers and reply to all their messages or will their Tweets and Facebook posts remain unseen?

According to Sprout Social (2013) consumers are turning to social media to interact with the people behind the brands and products they love. If there is a failure in communication, the customer-supplier relationship can make it feel one-sided and will eventually lead to the loss of a customer. (Beese, 2013)

In other words: if a company, in this case a tour operator, does not reply to the questions and complaints of the customer the number of sales will decrease because then the customer gets the feeling they are not important enough. This will mean they go to another company, a competitor, where they will feel important.

 

References

Beese, J. (2013, March 21). Social Media Response TIme. Retrieved from Sprout Social: http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-response-time/

Internet Live stats. (2016). Information about Internet Users. Retrieved from internet live stats: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/

Marban, A. (2014, February 13). The Importance of Responding to Customers Quickly on Social Media. Retrieved from Ad Espresso: https://adespresso.com/academy/blog/importance-responding-quickly-customers-social-media/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

Richards, R. (2016). How many people use social media? Retrieved from sysomos blog`: https://blog.sysomos.com/2016/04/21/how-many-people-use-social-media/

Smith, K. (2016). 96 Amazing Social Media Statistics 2016. Retrieved from Brandwatch: https://www.brandwatch.com/2016/03/96-amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts-for-2016/