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Younger generation’s expectations about their online experience are set by their last best experience, particularly on mobile.
An Adobe workshop on winning travellers hearts at this week’s Phocuswright conference in Florida heard from Hostelworld’s chief marketing officer, Ottokar Rosenberger.
He said the millennials take the best most recent experience they have had online as the “gold standard” and then apply this across sectors.
Brands with simple user interfaces like Uber, therefore, are leading the way and forcing all travel firms online to match its standards.
“Our millennial customers transfer that standard across their entire online experiences, particularly on mobile,” he said.
Rosenberger said it was vital that firms understood their customers and are focused on the experience they deliver.
“I don’t think it’s rocket science at all, it’s being really, really focused on that experience,” he said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers advisory director John Rolston said its research among the millennial generation shows that they want a personalised experience but on their own terms.
He said that too few firms were focusing on personalisation, but that it did not have to be a huge data warehousing challenge.
“Testing and learning across all your different channels and the differing content you are delivering and seeing what works dynamically, that’s a huge part of what personalisation is about,” he said.
Rosenberger agreed, advising delegates not to embark on a project that takes three years to come to fruition, saying Hostelworld’s approach was to get 10% better every quarter.
“Just start to improve the customer journeys. Personalisation is often about optimising the customer experience.
“We should celebrate that. In marketing you are more celebrated for hitting the launch date of some big campaign, but more important is you figuring out every day how you get better.”
Rosenberger said it was important marketing worked closely with all parts of the company to operate in a customer-centric way and that data was accessible to all while retaining security.
“We try to build our own solutions; bring together the technology challenge with the marketing challenge. That’s what inspires our teams to work across functions.”
With almost half of Hostelworld’s customers on mobile, Rosenberger said the it was like a real-time booking environment.
“More than half of our customers book and travel within two weeks. We need to, in real-time, analyse what we do and optimise channels.”
Rolston added there was a merging of the customers’ physical and digital worlds and this required a consistently personalised experience.
“This is not confined to marketing, service and sales it’s anything that touches the customer. It’s ultimately coming back to what is the value getting that organisational alignment.
“It comes down to starting to prove the value immediately, trying to get some quick wins under your belt, actually show you have delivered some impact on the business. That’s only going to help the cause.”
Rosenberger said: “You need to be a champion of being customer-centric. I expect everyone to rally around that.
“If you do not work in a marketing function demand that they help you and be very clear about who your customers are and that they know what it is to be customer-centric.