Summer is in full effect, and here at the Bubblebox HQ we can’t stop thinking about white sand beaches, piña coladas and a good book. While we love vacations, we’re more passionate about the journey—the customer journey, that is. Over the years we’ve been lucky to have a number of A-list travel eCommerce companies on our roster. What we love most about working with them is our shared passion for delivering customer journeys that inspire others to take flight—literally.
An increasing number of travel companies are rolling out marketing cloud technology as a means of streamlining their sales and marketing processes. Marketing cloud platforms have a proven track record of driving revenues through the delivery of content-rich engagement campaigns, yielding quantifiable results within minutes.
As Marketing Cloud Experts, we have enabled a number of travel companies to transform the booking experience through best practice solutions for their chosen marketing cloud platform. Travel companies who opt out of marketing cloud technology in today’s market will quickly find themselves miles behind their competition—particularly as personalized booking experiences top the list of customer concerns.
With at least 40% of all travel bookings conducted online, it is paramount that travel brands push more of their marketing budgets towards the creation, deployment and optimization of savory booking experiences. Hot on every digital marketer’s lips is “real-time data,” and how it can be leveraged into personalized communications that drive conversions. But with 72% of companies pleading ignorance when it comes to actually carrying out personalization strategies, it becomes more vital than ever to seek the guidance of a strategic services partner.
At Bubblebox, we know a thing or two about real-time data. We empower travel companies to transform raw behavioral and transactional insights into campaigns that matter to the customer. Want to learn how? Read on for 3 ways travel companies can leverage real-time data to close more bookings than ever:
1. It’s about the journey – not the destination!
If there’s one thing we learned from this year’s Connections Conference, it’s that Customer Journeys are leading the marketing cloud revolution. Sure, closing the sale is important, but equally as important is the relationship you develop with the customer before, during, and after that elusive transaction.
Best of breed marketing cloud platforms aggregate data based on a shopper’s online behavior. Every flight, vacation package or car rental that a visitor browses or buys is automatically compiled into a customer profile which arms the travel company with the necessary insights to curate highly targeted journeys, from customized vacation suggestions or travel destinations that other like-minded visitors are currently looking at.
Austin adds that optimizing the full range of tracking capabilities within the fresh Relevance platform will yield identification rates as high as 50%, which he claims “will get you great remarketing results.”
With real-time data, customer identification rates are high—but as Pete Austin of Fresh Relevance notes, “it’s not enough to require shoppers to login before they are tracked.” Indeed, gaining 360° customer insights should ideally start before you even know who they are. This type of predictive identification is possible with the best marketing cloud platforms, which combine a host of tracking strategies into one powerful package, including: anonymous tracking, email-to-web tracking, first-party cookies, and checkout login, among others. Austin adds that optimizing the full range of tracking capabilities within the Fresh Relevance platform will yield identification rates as high as 50%, which he claims “will get you great remarketing results.”
2. Upsell Ancillary Services
According to Kevin Wordon, head of digital at Flight Center, marketing cloud technology has completely transformed the company’s approach to acquisition and retention campaigns: “We used to go out with just an acquisition or retention campaign every single month. Now we’re looking at the smaller things we can do to help our customers along their journey, or that help us find new customers.”
Wordon maintained that he wanted Flight Center to preserve the personalized service of their original brick and mortar establishments. As opposed to large batch and blast acquisition and retention campaigns, Wordon’s team has switched focus to the little things that drive big engagement. Today’s travelers aren’t looking for just a flight or just a hotel – they want the whole package, and they want it delivered on a silver platter. Marketing cloud technology enables travel companies to upsell ancillary services that enhance the overall travel experience; by gathering rich streams of customer data, the technology is not only able to foresee customer needs, but meet them through the deployment of timely, relevant campaigns—it doesn’t get any more personalized than that.
Marketing cloud technology is all about offering the customer content of value—whether it be promotional or informational—at the exact moment they need it.
For example, if a customer is traveling to a destination with limited public transit, they’d likely find value in an email campaign offering car rental or taxi vouchers; similarly, someone set to fly in coach could be swayed to make a business-class upgrade if the deal is sweet enough.
Marketing cloud technology is all about offering the customer content of value—whether it be promotional or informational—at the exact moment they need it. At Flight Center, Wordon’s team starts the push of relevant content two weeks leading up to a customer’s departure date. Using real-time data, the travel giant is able to email soon-to-be travelers with “insights on their destination including what the weather might be, or if they need a visa,” says Wordon.
Going forward, Flight Center is looking to trial a SMS push messaging service that informs customers of the latest updates to their travel itineraries. Mobile marketing modules offered by the most robust marketing cloud platforms enable you to create, send, and track SMS messaging campaigns for a richer 1:1 experience.
Wordon is careful to roll out new modules of his marketing cloud platform incrementally—best practice for managing the learning curve and getting all team members up to speed. Training and consultation from a strategic services partner is the quickest pathway to optimizing the features of a marketing cloud platform—after all, less than half of digital marketers claim they are not gaining the full value from their investment in the technology, and who has time to figure it all out on their own?
3. Recover Abandoned Bookings
According to eConsultancy, “81% of people abandon online travel bookings, with ‘just looking’ the biggest reason for this.” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: cart and browse abandonment is one of the biggest headaches in the ecommerce industry today. Using marketing cloud technology, travel companies can recover and convert shoppers within minutes. Keep in mind that cart recovery tools are not all the same. Integrated tools and free downloads can only do so much; best of breed marketing cloud technology is able to identify up to 4 times more abandoned carts than its “simpler” counterparts, making it crucial to seek expert guidance when it comes to technology selection.
Marketing cloud technology allows travel companies to schedule the deployment of recovery emails within minutes of an abandoned cart, and timing is everything: 90% of your leads go cold within the hour, so it’s important to act fast!
The premise of cart recovery is simple. Sarah puts a flight to Cuba in her shopping cart, demonstrating an intention to buy. She leaves without paying, and within the hour receives a friendly email containing details and a link back to her recently abandoned flight. Recovery emails can sell as hard or as soft as you want them to—from “Hey Sarah, Cuba’s waiting for you…” to “Sarah, buy now and receive 50% off your hotel booking!”
90% of your leads go cold within the hour, so it’s important to act fast!
The most advanced cart recovery programs offer dynamic content. As soon as Sarah’s online behavior changes–say, she starts looking at trips to Thailand instead of Cuba–the content of her recovery email changes too, even if it’s already sitting in her inbox. Dynamic content enables travel companies to maintain a high level of personalization without doing any heavy lifting; real-time data gives you the intel to adapt to a customer’s changing interests, making it easy to deliver content that adds value to the booking experience.
Cart recovery has proven to drive conversions by up to 20%, “reducing permanent cart abandonment and increasing…sales by up to 10%,” according to Fresh Relevance. Marketing cloud technology boasts real-time reporting capabilities that work in tandem with Google Analytics; travel companies can see what shoppers click, browse and put in their cart, as they do it, offering leverage for powerful remarketing campaigns later on in the journey.
Are you ready to take flight with real-time data?
Travel companies that harness the power of real-time data experience the effortless alignment of sales and marketing.
When it comes to booking trips online, customers expect personalized experiences. Not only do they want to be seen as individuals, but they want to receive timely, relevant content to their device of choice. Marketing cloud technology optimizes real-time data in ways that make it easy to deploy relevant, timely communications. Travel companies that harness the power of real-time data experience the effortless alignment of sales and marketing. They are able to identify more online visitors, segment and target their customer base, upsell ancillary services, deliver relevant communications and recover lost sales–and that’s only the beginning. Want to learn more? Get in touch – we are Marketing Cloud Experts.