Travel customer journey is the collection of all the experiences a customer goes through as he interacts with your company and brand. It is a documentation of all the experiences your customer had during his journey and not just part of an experience or transaction.
Micro-moments take place when customers rely on mobile devices that are connected to the internet to discover, watch, learn, or buy something.
This article is all about the micro-moments that exist in the travel industry, how travel brands are capitalizing on the 5 stages, and what can brands learn to further improve the travel customer journey.
Stage 1: Dreaming (I-want-to-get-away)
Dreaming moments happen before any solid travel plans are made. This is the point where a traveler is trying to get ideas for possible travel destinations. He looks for inspiring content on the web that could help him narrow down his choices.
Here are more stats from Think with Google Study:
- Videos are a great way for your brand to “be there & be useful” in a traveler’s dreaming moments. 83% of travel-related searches involve social networking, photo, and video sites like YouTube.
- Over 100 million travelers visit YouTube every month.
- 3 in 5 travelers watch YouTube videos as a guide to help them narrow down their destination, activity choices, and brands.
Furthermore, Google claims that there aren’t too many travel vlogs created by brands; the majority are created by YouTube creators. The search engine giant points out the opportunity for brands to invest in the travel vlogging space.
Dreaming moment Example 1.
The creation of Marriott Traveler is an excellent example of a brand meeting travelers in their Dreaming or I-want-to-get-away Moments. It also portrays content marketing that offers valuable content and not directly pitching for a direct sale.
The Marriott Traveler is an online travel magazine dedicated to the Marriott brand. It contains blogs and videos that travelers can use as sources for travel inspirations. The brand even partnered with famous YouTube creators to cover top travel destinations around the world.
“67% of travelers are more likely to book with a travel brand that provides relevant information for the destinations they’re interested in.”
Dreaming moment Example 2.
Another practical example is when a traveler is done daydreaming for a week and finally decides to search for “top city breaks” on his phone. Google then serves him up with the results. He proceeds to click on the links and starts browsing.
This is the phase where the traveler narrows down his choices based on recommendations. At this point, the ‘dreaming’ moment now becomes more of a reality.
If you are the brand the traveler clicks on, then it’s more likely that you can influence him. It’s now easier to influence him than you might think. And according to Google Think, a traveler’s mind is so open at this stage. He might not have decided yet on a definite destination.
Great examples of content are bite-sized articles such as destination shortlists and top travel tips, which are perfect since your audience is viewing your content on the go.
One particular brand that’s already implementing this strategy is lastminute.com. The brand’s indulging I-want-to-get-away content – inspires the first step in their travel customer journey.
Dreaming moment Example 3.
Virgin America has its unique way of meeting the I-want-to-get-away moment needs of its customers.
The company launched a brand campaign to give its customers, especially those who were unfamiliar with the product, first-hand experience through an interactive “test-drive”. The 360-degree interactive tour inside the cabin consists of using virtual reality tools such as Google Cardboard, a virtual reality video, and a smartphone.
The interactive tour allows potential Virgin America customers to take a glimpse of their Airbus A320 cabin. The whole viewing experience showcases all the onboard amenities of the aircraft that set the brand apart from other airline companies.
Marketing tips for dreaming moment
Entice the dreamers by ensuring your brand shows up in searches where travelers look for inspiration. Examples of content to write can be like “Europe’s most beautiful beaches” or “best island destinations in Asia.”
And then provide visual content such as alluring images or videos. Make sure your visual content has elements that can draw or entice customers like captivating images of the location. Most importantly, it should include images of people enjoying their holiday vacation.
Whatever your visual content will be, make sure it’s “mobile-friendly” since more and more people use mobile phones for travel inspirations and bookings.
Stage 2: Planning (time-to-make-a-plan)
The Planning Moment starts as soon as the traveler has chosen his travel destination. At this point, he is now looking for the best dates, flights, activities, and accommodations for his stay.
The Planning Moment involves intensive research, which is mainly done on the internet.
Planning moment Example 1.
Here’s an example of a real traveler’s decision-making journey. A middle-aged woman is traveling from Nevada to San Diego. Her travel is both business and pleasure. She’s visiting for a mother’s conference and looking for places and activities where she and her child can have fun during their stay.
At this stage, Gina’s searches include:
- Things to do
- Accommodations or hotels and
- Flights in and flights out of her current destination
Hence, your brand must show up every time she researches for the precise detail of a destination. It is obvious that ‘search’ is the common method travelers use to find the brand they want to book with.
Planning moment Example 2.
La Quinta Inns and Suites decided to use mobile-friendly Google Hotel Ads so they can connect with their potential customer’s Planning Moments. The result not only increased their qualified leads but more traffic to their mobile site and a stronger conversion rate as well.
Planning moment Example 3.
Let’s say someone decides on New York for his ‘city break’ and he wants to find a fitness gym near Riverside Park. And so he searches for “hotels near Riverside Park with gym”. Your brand must somehow show up in searches like this.
When a potential customer lands on your site, he should see relevant information almost instantly. You have to ensure you are providing precise information with real-time updates on the latest offers, prices, and availability.
Consider making your information to be shareable across mobile devices. When a person is feeling excited about what you offer, he might pass that information to his partner or spouse to get the go-ahead with the purchase.
Ensure a smooth and uninterrupted customer experience since your information will be shared between mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. If they take a break from looking at your content, you can send an automated email that features a round-up of their search.
Mark Warner sends useful emails to help customers with their Planning Moments. The automated round-up helps their customers pick up from where they left off from their onsite searches.
Marketing tips for planning moment
As stated earlier, 67% of travelers will more likely make a booking with a brand that provides relevant information about the locations they want to visit. Again, the key here is for your content to show up in the search results.
A traveler is on the lookout for a brand to book with during this stage. Optimizing your content for common search phrases such as “hotels in Kyoto” or “flights to Barbados” will surely draw him to your webpages.
Stage 3: Booking (let’s-book-it)
At this stage, a traveler has found his destination and is ready to spend his money behind his decisions. He has completed the first two stages and is looking forward to the third stage, which is to book his dream holiday – hopefully with your brand.
“Thirty-one percent of leisure travelers say they’ve booked travel on a smartphone, while 53% of business travelers say the same.”
Booking moment Example 1.
Booking.com created a mobile app called Booking Now to meet the growing demand for same-day bookings. This is an example of a company’s deliberate way of reaching out to last-minute travelers looking for a brand to book with.
Booking.com is providing a frictionless booking experience for their customers. Travelers only need to tap twice on their mobile phones to make a reservation.
Booking moment Example 2.
Jumping in the bandwagon of meta search sites challenging traditional OTAs or Online Travel Agencies is Icelolly.com. The brand is an example of online and offline businesses teaming up to compete with tech giants and provide traveler-friendly experiences.
“We have some fantastic high street travel agents in the UK but they don’t have access to meta-search. At Icelolly, 70% of our traffic comes on mobile so we can infer the location of somebody and put that user in touch with a local high street travel agent under the right circumstances.”
Booking moment Example 3.
Virgin America wanted to optimize its “Book a flight” call to action by steering away from other offers and distractions. They wanted to remove everything that might clutter the booking process. As a result, booking a flight on mobile has become twice as fast.
Marketing tips for booking moment
For a brand to bring in more bookings, it needs to implement an online booking system. Activity providers and tour operators get 30 to 40% more bookings after they added the system to their sites.
Generally, it is essential in the customer’s decision-making stage that you remove all blockages in the booking process. Also, you need to reassure that they have nothing to worry about while booking with your brand.
Stage 4: Experiencing (can’t-wait-to-explore)
After you have successfully positioned your brand in the Dreaming, Planning, and Booking stages of the travel customer journey, the Experiencing stage comes into play.
Your customers arrive at the destination hoping to have a travel experience of a lifetime. Your job is to supplement their experience with things that are tangible and memorable.
Remember, this phase is all about customer service — you need to ensure your guests leave with smiles on their faces
Experiencing moment Example 2.
As a hospitality brand, Hilton tries to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world to meet their customer’s can’t-wait-to-explore moments. The brand wanted to make the whole travel experience easier for their customers – before, during, and after the visit.
To make this possible, Hilton uses Google’s email markup service. This service allows Google to monitor when a traveler has booked with the brand. As the travel date gets closer, the guests will be notified through their mobile phone about accommodation details and reservation updates.
Experiencing moment Example 3.
At this stage, brands are in a position to inform, guide, and upsell. Their customers expect this as 9 out of 10 travelers depend on their travel provider for relevant information about the trip.
In this example, Airbnb plays like a tour guide to meet their customers in their I-can’t wait-to-explore or Experiencing Moment.
Marketing tips for experiencing moment
Once again, mobile takes the center stage even in the fourth phase of the travel customer journey. Travelers depend on it to find the most exciting activities in a new destination.
You must provide helpful information and useful resources on the destination for first-time visitors. If you can supply your guests with useful information in these decision-making processes – they will most likely trust you and seek more advice in the future.
Stage 5: Sharing
Most first-time travelers often book accommodations based on suggestions from family and friends.
So whether your guests take the time to write positive reviews of your brand’s customer service or post photos of incredible views from the destination – sharing their experience will inspire other travelers to book with your brand.
Targeting your guests at each stage of their micro-moments is a sure way to make your brand stand out from the competition. Providing excellent assistance to your customers throughout their journey will most likely encourage them to share their experience with other travelers.
Showing up on search results is not enough for the success of your travel customer journey. You need to inspire your customers with relevant content that answers their questions about travel.
Your brand needs to change its content strategy so it fits with your customer’s micro-moments. It will surely win the hearts and minds of the travelers you want to convert into customers.