Modern travel retailing will need to understand how customers think and behave, engage in real time, and deliver more content and best value to establish a memorable experience, opined industry leaders speaking at a recent Travelport trade webinar.
In explaining the impact of neuroscience on the travel purchase decision, Paul Zak, a neuroscience expert and CEO of Immersion Neuroscience, said wearable software devices can monitor the heart rate to measure oxytocin, a hormone released when people experience an emotion. Immersive experiences cause people to take action. When action and emotional resonance co-occur, experiences are enjoyable and memorable.
“Brands use the Immersion Neuroscience platform to create value,” said Zak. “Without measuring brain activity, your betting average for sales, marketing and advertising is 20 to 30 per cent. With immersion, you get 80 to 90 per cent hits. People have tension in their brains – when they take action, they release that tension.”
He recommended creating a sales experience where the call to action occurs at the peak immersion moment with the highest tension. Data is shown second-by-second in real time, making it possible to communicate in the most effective way with customers.
“The platform gives Travelport the most effective way to share with the industry in physical, digital and omnichannel settings. Key lessons will be reported back to the industry, so it’s able to measure, integrate and improve,” Zak concluded.
On the supplier side, American Airlines (AA) believes in self-service and wants to make it intuitive and relevant for customers – on apps and at the airport – “things that help people have a touchless journey” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer.
She explained: “This will free up team members to look after the customer. People now have a lot of questions about testing, information on getting into a country or even another state…and we want to be more personalised.”
This is where distribution and retail strategy come to the fore. AA offers corporate customers “bundles” so they get what is approved in their corporate programme and it is served up easily.
Taylor said travel agents should seriously consider New Distribution Capability (NDC). “It’s a cost-efficient way to buy inventory. Everyone expects to self-service while on the road. NDC and other retail solutions enable them to do that,” she said.
Amazon Web Services shared how it collaborates with Travelport by combining its expertise in cloud and travel technology to facilitate upgraded processing, better storage and security, more machine learning and advanced analytics, and improved personalisation.
Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO, gave the travel agent perspective. He summed up four important points for the future of travel retail: the subscription programme, product diversification – to be a “one-stop shop for customers”, increased customer service automation and connectivity in the content and process.