The airplane, like the automobile before it, opened up new vistas for travel.
Where the automobile allowed people to travel beyond their hometowns, counties and states in the early 20th century, it limited them to whatever network of roads had been constructed.
Several decades later, when Pan American Airways began the first trans Atlantic flights in 1939, commercial air service disrupted the old ground-based travel model by allowing people to leave behind not just their home but their country, as well.
Like A Crowded Subway
We take intercontinental air travel for granted, now. Speed and time are no longer issues: it’s possible to fly hallway around the world in a matter of hours.
But the excitement that was once part of air travel is long gone. Today, flying is often an uncomfortable, stress-filled means to an end, like taking a crowded subway to work every morning. Just a lot more expensive.
To counter disgruntled tourists, the travel industry is turning to technology to make a customer’s experience as pleasing and memorable as possible – at least, once the flight is over.
Know The Customer With CRM
The key to customer satisfaction begins with knowing the customer, as it does with any business today, and to truly know a customer requires a customer relationship management software platform.
CRM solutions are tailor-made to provide a travel business with the kind of information and analysis to deliver a meaningful experience to a customer.
Artificial intelligence is playing an enormous role within CRM solutions, delivering personalized and customized itineraries for travelers in real time, based on their needs, desires and past experiences.
Data Drives Success
In other words, it’s all about the data.
The big online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Travelocity and others know how valuable data is to their businesses. That’s part of the reason why they rake in billions of dollars every year.
Their share-of-wallet grows at the expense of small, independent agencies, boutique hotels and cruise lines who fail to leverage CRM technology.
Therefore, it’s even more vital for the smaller travel firms to access the same kind of data and use it to advantage.
Smaller companies are out-classed when it comes to the marketing budgets of the major OTAs but they can still leverage the characteristics of today’s travelling consumers.
The Changing Customer
First and foremost, recognize that today’s customers are not the customers of even five years ago. Now, customers know they can find what they want online.
As a result, according to an extensive Salesforce survey , 50% of those polled said they would switch from a company that didn’t anticipate their needs and 52% said they would switch brands if their old brand didn’t personalize communications – in other words, make them “feel like a somebody”.
Further, travelers are more concerned with their experience than with getting the best deal , according to a major study done by Expedia Group.
So, the customer today is more expectant, more demanding and less forgiving. They know what’s possible and they won’t tolerate missing the chance to have it.
What’s more, if they don’t get what they were promised, they will often turn to social media and express their displeasure. By the same token, if they are thrilled with their travel experience, they will also let their social networks know.
Competing for the Customer
In order to assist small travel and tourism operators to compete on par with the giant OTAs, Gerent LLC created a unique product for the travel and hospitality market, based on the world’s number one CRM platform from Salesforce.
The product is called DeepQuest and is multi-module platform designed to support and serve boutique hotels, transportation companies and small cruise lines.
It is a direct result of the travel business landscape today and reflective of the demands of travelling consumers.
DeepQuest employs the power of Salesforce CRM while providing inventory control management, reservation management and pricing software, built-in to individual modules, on a cloud-based platform.
DeepQuest gives the small tourism operator a means of levelling the playing field along with the power to provide a consumer with a personalized and customized itinerary that can be adjusted in real time.
A Win For Small Travel Operators
The travelling consumer is driving the market today through higher expectations, spurred by technology which now permits online booking from anywhere, on any device.
This shouldn’t have to mean that smaller companies fall by the wayside because they’re not affluent enough to match global marketing and IT budgets run by the Expedias and TripAdvisors of the world.
CRM technology is the key that unlocks the door for independent operators, revealing a new market of possibilities and opportunities.