The Future of Millennial Travel Requires Brands to be More Proactive

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

In a digital market, consumers are rapidly transitioning from a mindset of “consumer” to “prosumer.” A prosumer is someone who is not passively engaging with brands, but is proactively taking steps towards co-ownership and co-creation of the products they use, the services they want and the brand experiences they are looking for. Brands that are embracing a new era of the prosumer are experiencing increased customer loyalty and millennial brand love.

Prosumers are especially active in the travel landscape. Booking travel is an inherently active process that does not stop once a ticket is purchased. Travelers are constantly checking in on their flights, looking for better deals and making last minute switches. Brands in the travel industry have the opportunity to connect with these consumers at a variety of different levels and use the information they have about their customers to create a better experience in real-time.

Imagine getting a phone call from an airline during a delay, but before your flight has been canceled, laying out options of what your potential next steps could be. What if the airline allowed you to give up your travel obligations and recommended a new flight on a different airline. What if it even went so far as to suggest alternative ways for you to reach your destination? This type of proactive customer relationship management will be what guides the future of travel – especially among the millennial audience.

A survey by inContact found that 87 percent of customers surveyed want to be contacted proactively by companies. The concept of proactive customer service is not novel, but it could be a great strategy for companies like Southwest, Delta, Marriott and Hilton that already have a great reputation for effective reactive customer service.

Proactive customer service is a win-win for both customers and companies – it’s what millennials want and it has a positive effect on brand perception. According to the inContact survey, 73 percent of respondents reported that their perception of a company improved based on proactive customer relationship management. The more engaged a brand is in the well-being of their customers, rather than just profiting off of them, the more brand loyalty and affinity millennials will develop for that company.

Understanding location and preferences matter

With apps like Foursquare and Gogobot that utilize user preferences and user location to recommend nearby businesses and experiences, there is an opportunity for hotel and airline companies to tap into that model of proactive customer engagement and become the go-to source for millennial travelers.

A recent survey by Harris Interactive for Switchfly found that 66 percent of U.S. millennial smartphone owners said they would book travel via mobile. Using a quick in-app survey after booking on mobile or scanning a digital boarding pass, travel companies could gather data on customers about the reason for travel and consumer preferences. This data would then be stored to begin customizing suggestions for each individual traveler while at their destinations.

These travel brands have the potential to become proactive engagement hubs that know their customers well enough to predict what they might want and suggest activities or available experiences that correspond with user preferences. For example, a nature enthusiast might be pleased to receive a alert from his or her airline letting them know that there is a great hiking trail near their hotel when in Vegas for a work trip. What’s a quick thirty-minute detour the morning before a meeting?

Embracing the future today

To activate a proactive prosumer strategy, follow these steps:

1. Create a roadmap to deliver more customized and personalized experiences

2. Disambigously match social data to individual customers

3. Ask a few questions every time the customer interacts with your brand so you have longitudinal learning and aggregate the answers to these questions over time

4. Connect behavioral data to the individual customer

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About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.