This article is part of our August series on travel and hospitality. Click here for more.
According to the 2016 study by the National Union of Family Associations, 40% of French people don’t take a holiday during the year. Of those families who don’t go on holiday, 77% say they haven’t taken a holiday in at least two years.
Holidays, the tourist industry, and happiness are inextricably linked together. The tourist industry helps us organise our holidays. When we think of an approaching holiday or start planning a holiday, we feel positive emotions and happiness. We look forward to the holiday with anticipation, the happiness building up within us.
In fact, Hotel News Now Study 2016 reports that 49% of people say a holiday brings them more joy than their wedding day, 51% prefer travel to going on a romantic rendezvous, and 34% would rather travel than receive a bonus!
A Part Of A Longer Journey
Eighty-seven per cent of holidaymakers say their happiness reaches its peak when they see their room for the first time. This highlight of the holiday, however, is only one part of a much longer journey, to which the players in the tourism sector don’t often pay the necessary attention. The journey begins when people are preparing for the trip and ends well after holidaymakers come back.
Digital has transformed the way we book a holiday. Today, a typical traveller does, on average, 50 online searches, visits 38 websites, reads 12 reviews, and spends 15 weeks searching online, according to Amadeus Study 2016. The tourist industry invests heavily in the imagination and exploration of the booking phase that precedes a holiday. The idea is to create moments of anticipation that whet the appetite.
On the other hand, during the post-trip phase, which is about exchanging memories and sharing photos once travellers have returned from their holidays, tourism players are present minimally or they don’t do a good job. But this stage is an essential time to retain customers, ensure their loyalty, and encourage them to make new bookings.
I recently spoke at a conference and shared several case studies of Adobe customers who have reconsidered the customer experience with the digital transformation of tourism in mind.
Quality Images Work For Hyatt Hotels
In the phase of preparing for a trip, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of the appeal and quality of images—79% of internet users claim that beautiful pictures encourage them to browse longer. And browsing is not limited to the brand website. Tourists use other websites, mobile apps, social media platforms—like Instagram, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and many others—during the discovery phase.
Ensuring the preparation phase of the physical experience is as pleasant and enjoyable as possible is one of the main objectives of the Hyatt hotel chain. The brand has a database of over 70,000 images it uses to enrich the customer experience on all media channels, and can even share these images with partners. Those images are then meant to be used on every digital touch point, to provide a rich, consistent, and unified customer experience—and also to ensure that the images that are shared are the most beautiful ones and will improve conversion. Those images can also be used after the trip, alongside pictures taken by tourists, to keep that brand consistency at its best.
User-Generated Content Boosts Australia’s Appeal
The Australian Tourist Office seeks to make every visitor an ambassador who believes that Australia is the best place on earth. With this idea in mind, it ran a campaign encouraging tourists to share photos, comments, and videos of their visits to Australia on social networks. Then it aggregated this content, using Adobe Experience Manager Livefyre, and made the Tourism Australia site the hub of convergence of these exchanges, a space where tourists can share their views.
The result was that the time visitors spent on the site had increased by 65% and the number of leads that could be forwarded to tourism professionals by 77%. The impact on visibility had also been very strong—millions of potential tourists had watched videos and pictures from other tourists. Those shared experiences were the best possible promotion for Australia. As we all know, trust and impact are off the charts when real people share their experiences, because we believe them and trust them much more than a brand or an organisation. This is also an example of a very rare and interesting approach where actual tourists, living the Australian experience, can share this experience with potential tourists.
Consider The Whole Experience
So this notion of customer experience isn’t about a single moment, but about the entire journey, from the moment we begin to plan our holidays until the moment we return home and share our experience with others.
How can we make sure our customers are excited about their approaching holidays? What services can we offer to maximise their satisfaction once they arrive? How can we allow them to continue and extend the experience once they return, transforming them into brand ambassadors? These are some of the fundamental issues confronting the players in the tourism sector today.