The way we travel is broken

Article by

Chanade Murphy-Johnson
Commercial Lead

Chanade Murphy-Johnson

Chanade Murphy-Johnson

Commercial Lead

When travelling, whether it be for business or pleasure, there are tonnes of brands that we interact with and the quality of the experience differs massively. Today, more and more organisations are adapting to changes in customers’ expectations, technology and access to data, and others are simply doing nothing. This may not seem like an issue to their leaders right now because share price is spot on, but in the near future they face severe consequences.

I’ve noticed you around

I was staying at a hotel that I’ve stayed at three times in the last two months, and I’ve also stayed at other hotels in the group on a number of occasions, yet every time I check-in I get asked the same question: “Is this your first time with us?”. It’s not difficult for an organisation to know the answer to this; in fact, given we’re in 2016 and we have access to better technology which provides a place to store this valuable data — there’s no excuse for this to happen. Whereas, there’s another hotel I stay at and they have nailed this. Every time I stay there, I get a lovely warm welcome and in my room there’s always an envelope on the bed with a personally written welcome note from one of the leadership team. Simple things like this make all the difference.

Hotel Suite
Letter

This doesn’t cause me as much frustration as money though.

It’s all about the money

Like most people, it gets to the day before I’m due to fly away on my travels and every time I’ve not managed to get my currency sorted. I end up rushing around trying to write my handover and remember where I put my passport, where my beach towel is and how on earth I’m going to have time to do everything before I need to leave for the airport. Then, when I get to the airport and go through security, I’m left with the choice of getting ripped off at the airport, or leaving it until I get to my destination. But - where will I be able to change my money when I get there? How much is my bank going to charge me for using my card? Will my card be blocked abroad?

Welcome to 2016. Don’t worry about the transport, get yourself an Uber when you land at the airport, and currency - well, don’t worry about that as there is now a great solution called Supercard.

I no longer think of Travelex as the expensive, last minute resort for foreign exchange at the airport  -  I see them as an organisation that’s taken a big step to transform the way people experience them. They’ve hired a new team who have only just scratched the surface, but in the 18 months they’ve been there they have launched new experiences that have a genuine purpose and are relevant to today’s traveller. I’ll be using Supercard this summer and I can’t wait (I’m planning on writing about my experience, so check back soon).

Travelex Supercard
Travelex App
Underground Gates
Tickets

There’s a lot to be said about paper money and people like Travelex have explored new ways to transfer money between people and businesses, yet travel journey providers such as train operators and airlines haven’t quite fixed this.

A little less paper, a little more ease, please

I’m stood at the machine entering my reference code that’s hidden away in an email in my booking confirmation folder, and I dread this from the moment I leave the house — will I have enough time to print my tickets?

This is such a painful experience; what if it was as easy as buying something on Amazon with 1-Click?

Then, you’re walking down to the platform with no idea where coach E will end up being on the platform, so you try to strategically figure out which direction you’re going to take. Imagine having your ticket in your Wallet and it prompts roughly where you should head to on the platform. Add to that the fact that ticket barriers often fail, creating even more friction.

It amazes me that there isn’t a solid alternative to paper tickets. Paper tickets cause unnecessary frictions for people and cost a considerable amount to buy/print.

I flew with Ryanair earlier this year and although I had to download their app to get my boarding pass into Wallet, it was a much easier experience and far better than what most airlines have in place at the moment. It’s so much easier than having to take out your boarding pass at the security barriers along with your passport that you don’t actually need at that moment in time.

By reducing friction points it makes our experience a lot easier and we can spend more time making memories and less time figuring out what we need to do.

Where do we go from here?

I’m going back a few years now and I’m going by my own experience of renting a car — if you’ve had a better experience I’d love to hear about it.

So I’m in San Diego, we’re planning our trip up to San Francisco and we decide that we’re going to hire a car — we were students living the dream, so unfortunately we couldn’t afford to go for a Mustang and ended up with a little Chevy, but it did the job! However looking back, the experience we had with the car rental company was very transactional. We told them where we’d be dropping off the car, when we’d do that, signed a form, paid and headed out onto the open road.

There’s an opportunity to provide a much more useful experience throughout your trip and not just when you take out and return the vehicle they’ve just rented to you. Imagine if they had provided us with a tool that told us about the places along the way, where to stop off, handy tips, and enabled us to book accommodation through it? That’s not only a much more useful experience for us but a revenue stream for them (should we book accommodation through their partnership with them).

Road Trip
Map
Think about the experience your customers have today, go and experience it for yourself. Where do friction points and anxieties exist?

You’ll find small things you can fix quickly through internal process change, but there will also be opportunities whereby introducing a digital experience will dramatically improve things not only for customers but for the organisation too. This could be a simpler way of doing things, access to more useful information, brand perception, C-sat, NPS or revenue, etc.

There’s so much choice for today’s consumer and that means that often loyalty doesn’t play a big part anymore, but if you provide a better experience you’ll build stronger relationships with people, and guess what, they’ll come back. Advertising isn’t as powerful as it once was, experience is far more powerful, and it’s what people talk about.

Like this post? Read more of our thoughts on changes in the travel industry in our 10 Minute Guide to how travel brands can keep up with the competition in an era of high friction and low customer attention.