Operators are in danger of being out of touch with what customers really want by underestimating the key factors that are most important to them.
New research revealed that 81% of travel companies believed their customers were loyal to them, in contrast to just 51% of customers who felt they were loyal to their current travel firm.
The study by mobile app Vamoos was conducted on more than 1,000 consumers who go on luxury, educational and/or adventurous trips in addition to 61 travel businesses.
A number of discrepancies between the views of travel companies compared to customers were discovered.
• Underestimating the worry of getting to the airport – Just 5% of travel operators believed that getting to the airport was a cause of stress, compared to 35% of customers.
• Overestimating fears over bigger threats – 51% of travel operators believe their customers are worried about factors they can’t control, such as strikes or terrorism, yet only 31% of customers agree.
• Preparation is key – Consumers are more likely to rebook through a travel operator again if everything was well organised and went to plan (49%).
• Ignoring post-holiday stress – a quarter of consumers experience stress after their holiday, only 1% less than the number of people who feel stressed right before their holiday. Worryingly, only 5% of travel companies know that their clients feel stressed after their holiday.
The report also challenged a number of myths associated with the “customer journey”, including:
• After booking, customers will be content if they get all the information about their trip ASAP – they do want logistical information like what time their flight is and where they are going, but they also want support on the smaller things that cause the biggest stress.
• Travel companies should place importance on providing support throughout the holiday – Actually, customers would prefer everything to be so well planned that it reduces the chance of things going wrong in the first place.
• After a customer comes back from a trip, they are relaxed and happy – although people are more relaxed after holiday, a large number of people still feel very stressed.
Director Tony Bean said:“Our research showed that tour operators understood that their customers were likely to feel stressed prior to holiday, and both placed an importance on the need for everything to be well organised, in addition to the holiday going to plan.
“However, the similarities appear to stop there, with significant differences in the perceptions of tour operators compared to their customers on a number of different factors, and at various stages of the customer journey.
“It indicates that tour operators may need to re-evaluate what they think they know about their customers, how loyal they are, and what really matters to them in terms of a value-add proposition.
“With two-thirds of consumers most likely to book their holiday themselves than through a large travel company, operators need to work harder to understand the underlying motivations of their customers if they want to achieve the higher levels of retention and loyalty that were suggested in this report.”