Technology can be brand differentiator for travel firms

UK travellers favour travel firms who are able to set themselves aside from the competition – those who can associate a superior performing aspect of their brand with multiple customer benefits.

New research reveals how 40% of UK consumers place a premium on brand differentiation, with the same study suggesting that technology can be used to drive customer loyalty and improve customer service.

The findings from Relay42 and EyeForTravel relate directly to the airline sector, although they can be applied to the travel industry as a whole.

For instance, the authors of the study conclude that travel firms have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage if they use technology to market more effectively to consumers. Here are some of the findings it bases that statement on:

• 57% of consumers would like mobile or email communication on waiting times at check-in and security

• 48% would like information about travel options to and from their final destination

• 36% would like information on activities that they could book

• 35% would like information on accommodation that they could book

• 30% would like information on suggested destinations based on previous travel

As it stands, however, just one fifth of the nearly 1,800 respondents felt technology had influenced their direct communications with carriers for the better. As such, convenience (26%) and price (25%) are still rated as the two most important factors when choosing a flight.

Yet, over three-quarters of the respondents said technology made airline service better, suggesting that airlines haven't quite worked out how to harness technology in order to improve communication.

Tomas Salfischberger, CEO and co-founder, Relay42, believes that airlines are going wrong by continuing to deploy sales offers and recommendations. As the study's findings make obvious, travellers want practical information and messages that will aid them in their journey.

Here's where the survey respondents believe that technology adds value:

• 52.6% of respondents thought it had made their journey easier

• 46% said it had been valuable at check-in

• 37.9% thought that technology had made life easier when paying for a flight

With nearly half (43%) of respondents saying they either book or research flights on their phones, there is clear incentive for airlines to make the best use of the technology available to them. In order to stay on top of the latest travel information, customers may well opt-in to a travel firm's communications – technology needs to be used carefully to ensure they don't later decide to opt out, explained Alex Hadwick, head of research at EyeforTravel.

He added: "If a consumer downloads an airline app, then it is a rare moment of complete attention. Therefore make sure they see the value you add at that moment through making their journey easier, more fun or more comfortable. Our survey showed consumers were interested in technology but it needed to be functional and relevant."

Contact Digital Trip today to hear how we can keep you in your customers' good books.