There is a new era dawning in the APAC travel sector. As Asian travel brands work hard to make sales and establish meaningful customer relations, brands that don’t transact with travellers online are missing out on loyalty moments and the opportunity for ancillary sales, according to a report by SapientRazorfish.
According to the firm’s ‘Asia’s Evolving Online Travel Market’ report, almost half of Asian travel brands consider themselves to be at the forefront of digital cross-device customer experience in the industry.
However, global brands in Asia “tend to stumble in this area,” said report authors. In reality, just 20% of online travel brands in the region are providing a personalised, premiumised experience for customers.
The report said that Asian travellers are most comfortable on their mobile, meaning brands need to deploy more high-end mobile functions and content “as a means of assuring customers that their travel choices are the right ones,” and to show that brands have the individual’s interest at heart.
“Brands are using mobile in so many ways, like messaging platforms, for example, to provide services that go beyond superficial engagement and extend towards every aspect of customer service,” said Seton Vermaak, Travel & Hospitality Lead SEA at SapientRazorfish.
To achieve meaningful connections, data is giving travel brands a major market advantage with almost 80% of firms reporting data analtyics as an area of focus for the year.
“As Asia’s travel industry becomes increasingly competitive, brands are realising they need to better serve their customers in order to maintain their share of the market,” said Vermaak. And capitalise on ancillary sales, which is expected to see growth this year.
Ancillary services refer to all the ‘extra’ things that a person might need when going on holiday or taking a business trip. A travel agent may book the holiday and flight but they will offer a wide range of ancillary services just so they could provide you the full services you are their customer.
“Ancillary sales are about more than just face value revenue generation: they present a utility that heightens the end-to-end experience for travellers,” added Vermaak.
“Suggesting ancillary products and services allow brands to showcase how well they know a traveller, to foster a relationship by showing an understanding of their need for convenience, thud heightening engagement and loyalty.”
It’s a notion backed by most industry professionals in Asia. Some 83% of survey respondents said they expected ancillary revenues to increase in 2017, as opposed to decreasing, enforcing the need for brands to “shift their focus to creating a better end-to-end experience for travellers.”
“With the modern consumer model, it’s about enabling the customer experience throughout the entire journey, and ancillary sales are at the heart of this extended offering,” concluded Vermaak.