Leading The Way: Things are Getting Personal
Prioritising personalisation in a data-driven world.
Let's go back and imagine the time before this pandemic hit. It seems so long ago and in some ways even impossible to grasp, but the reality is travel and tourism had been undergoing not only continuous growth but also major transformation long before Covid-19.
This transformation saw a central trend emerge and build momentum: personalisation.Or even, ultra-personalisation.
With travellers' concerns around safety growing and a pent-up desire for the perfect experience, this trend has now been pushed into the spotlight. So, as digitalisation becomes the norm and products increasingly exist in the online space, we must ask ourselves how we can retain our 'personal touch' and address the need for personalised experiences in this new world.
We all have our own values, needs and preferences. We all like to be respected, well treated and experience custom-made services, designed just for us, where we feel important and special. In the travel sector, I think this is even more apparent. People travel to experience, to learn, to grow, and to make unforgettable memories. And for each one of them, this may mean something slightly different – truly knowing the customer is thus the key to it all.
Customer-centric organisations, aware of the importance of customer loyalty, will go above and beyond to design ultra-personalised services that create value, a sense of belonging and care, and ultimately, ensure a customer returns to do business with them again. For many years now, we have seen this trend in the hotel industry where each client is offered a highly customised service and innovative airline campaigns are created especially for specific target groups.
In short, the time has come for personalisation to become a commodity in the leisure group travel space too.
Across any channel and as part of any phase of the experience the personalisation of services can be introduced. Here, I am not talking only about B2C, but also B2B! Processes need to be carefully designed, which is a complex process in itself, and these ultra-personalised services need to be provided with data-driven management and dedicated service architecture.
At Kuoni Tumlare, the way we go about this is to create customised sales processes and experiences based on the needs of our main clients, drawing from the very special relationships and knowledge we have acquired over the years and factoring in their input from the beginning. These processes can then be tweaked and adapted to better align with different clients on a case-by-case basis.
Taking this a step further, we can then leverage the expertise of our wide network of destination experts to directly connect with overseas markets – giving them unique knowledge, fast service and specialised customer care.
Over the years, we have built a portfolio of truly personalised experiences for travellers – from personalised gifts to preparing special, made-to-order dining experiences, providing unforgettable meet-up events or even organising the manufacture of bespoke dresses from clients' favourite designers…
Of course, the way to understand these very specialised and personal needs can only come through more intimate engagement with the whole market, on one side with agents and the other with suppliers around the world. This way we better position ourselves to enable open discussions identifying the combinations of services that would create a unique experience, analyse feedback and, most importantly, introduce these combinations as part of our offering.
We also look at our processes which have naturally been adapted to ensure we avoid a one size fits all approach and opt instead for increasingly refined and specialised procedures with the client's need for personalisation at their core.
This does not happen by itself; it requires a shift in mind-set and touches upon all levels of our organisation.
Having customer focus as a central value in how we operate, the potential for personalisation must now be ingrained in everything we do – from start to finish. The challenges this presents are clear – with ongoing digitalisation and the shift to an almost completely online world, truly 'knowing' the customer is becoming an increasingly difficult task. However, this is a challenge we must adapt to and overcome. Through increased engagement, dedicated processes and a 360-degree approach across the whole business, we can always ensure special attention is given to this unique highly personalised approach. Now more than ever, the opportunity is there to be taken.
Even with all the difficulties this pandemic has brought, I personally don't remember more exciting times in my career (and I have been with Kuoni Tumlare for 15 years); times where we can turn the page, start from a clean slate and bring new energy to the industry. I have witnessed some great products coming to life in just a matter of months, with only the expert knowledge, enthusiasm and energy of my fellow teammates across the world. And in each of our ideas and visions (and there are many!), we put clients first – innovating around the customer journey with the potential for personalisation as our focal point.
So, let's not imagine how our industry was before the pandemic, let's focus on the unstoppable path of transformation we are on and the trends that will only grow in strength as life goes back to normal. Let's get ready to provide more unique, more innovative and more personalised services to our clients around the world.
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More in this series:
Understanding Our True Value in a Changing World: Destination Experts First-and-Foremost
by Tim Martin, Chief Operating Officer