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We exist to make your business thrive and our greatest reward is our returning clients. Our focus is and always will be on our clients and not on industry awards and accreditations, which could account for why we’ve won so many of them…
Improving digital business travel experiences.
As an EA, a significant part of my role has been to manage the logistics around travel and hotel bookings. I have developed a slightly geeky knowledge of who flies where, in some cases, approx flight times, the issues surrounding the flights and stopovers. I have an internal encyclopedia of what works for my executives.
But in March 2020 the world of business travel changed significantly and therefore so did my role at Sagittarius. We found ourselves reading headlines such as
‘The International Airport Transport Association (IATA) predicts the UK aviation industry faces a loss of revenue of up to £20.1 billion in 2020.’
“Coronavirus has reduced air travel by 97% this year” House of Commons Transport Select Committee
With the world of travel being a very different place for not only domestic but business travellers, I found myself making this comparison:
I’m booking travel and logistics for SXSW, Sitecore Symposium, planning our Christmas conference, booking numerous hotels, trains and flights to see our clients or our teams in Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Dubai.
I’m booking online virtual events as our team works from home and embracing the art of the video conference.
It’s given me a chance to reflect on how this all works and given the space and time what I’d love to see travel businesses enhance as they emerge from the current situation.
If you’re a fellow EA then read this as therapy, you’re not alone in your frustrations, and if you’re a travel business then please treat this as Voice of the Customer research. A gift from me to you.
The Future Opportunity
In 2020, like many people, our business travel plans have been significantly disrupted.
Making travel arrangements takes time but unravelling has, in some cases, proved to take even more time. Arranging refunds, transferring dates and names, it is all part of the role and nature but surely travel companies can make it easier for us? With opportunities to make use of AI technology and personalise experiences, it raises the question - why is this not the norm?
There are so many opportunities to personalise the travel experience, some companies make the booking a pleasurable experience - as a regular visitor to a website, I have a persona and as such, I’m served content relevant to me. For other sites, the process can feel like torture. With that in mind here are the top 6 things I’d encourage, dare I say love you to improve on your websites.
- Provide a personalised experience for the Assistant and for the Executive (not a combined experience). Almost all of the travel and accommodation I book is for other people. Booking.com allows me to book this accommodation and for others to add it to their linked account. I love having the executives and colleagues listed and I can start typing their name and their details are added. It could be better still by allowing me to set preferences. Does this person need breakfast, a quiet room, other personal/specific requirements? Having these automatically populate using AI and tech, allows me to review, sense check and move efficiently through the process. For EasyJet having traveller’s details/documents stored is extremely useful, I can complete the Advance Passenger Information requirements efficiently. I check with colleagues that their passports are valid and unchanged from previous travel and it results in a quick smooth plan. Allowing team members to add the bookings I’ve made to their Apple wallet and profile makes for smooth travel.
- Easily compare prices and times for flights/trains. EasyJet allows you to select a destination and dates but also shows flight times and prices for the days either side - I can quickly see if there are cost benefits to an earlier or later flight or I can present options to my team if there is flexibility on dates. For many other sites, you select what looks to be a good price/timing mix and click through only to discover the timings you need aren’t available and you are back to the start, selecting the destination and dates all over again, time-consuming and frustrating. Oh, and it also means I need a spreadsheet to document all the options and compare pricing which is a step no brand should force a user to make.
- Make it easy to change flights/names on the website. Plans change - please make it easy to be able to move a flight without it costing a fortune, surely self-serve is the way to go (supermarkets have done it!). Make it easy to change the name of the traveller. Enable me to do this online - at Sagittarius life can move very quickly. I don’t have spare hours to sit on the phone and complete these tasks, I want to sign in to a website quickly, change a name and update the details between meetings. I know I can do this in a few minutes, a phone call however, especially this year, can take hours.
- Make it easy to add /remove extras. My colleagues don’t always want breakfast - being able to add this to some days and remove it for others is really helpful - I know they can pay on-demand at a hotel but three people for breakfast at £20 a time soon mounts up.
- Consider that the person booking (and paying) isn’t necessarily the person staying. Being able to pre-pay easily makes life so much easier...when we have new starters or members of a team who don’t normally travel, it makes life easier all round when I have the option to pre-pay - it makes the accounting so much simpler too as it comes through central card payment. At Christmas, last year I had to complete a payment authorisation form which had to be printed, signed, scanned and sent back. What decade is this? Extremely old school, time-consuming and questionable with regards to data security. Not only that, there are times when I need select parts of the information as the booker (e.g. confirmation of payment) but my colleague needs the dates and locations of the booking itself - having options to send copies of documents to me is really useful and negates the need to chase for receipts, meaning we can all get on with our day.
- Don’t provide travel vouchers which can’t be used online. In this digital age, when you have all of my details and I have an ‘account’ with you - why do I need to spend half a day on the phone to use a voucher you have issued due to a booking cancellation? Seriously? I have to assume you don’t want me to activate the discount which gives me a bad perception of your brand. Or worse still, provide a paper travel voucher which I then need to share with a team member in order for them to queue up at the station and hand over in part payment. Even writing that was challenging. In my mind, these are not worth the paper they are printed on. If I’ve booked and paid online then that is the channel I’ve chosen for all our interactions. Please, oh please, let me use any credits or vouchers online as surely that is just the customer service we deserve in 2020.
Customer feedback rant over and it feels good to get that off my chest. You all do so many things well it's such a shame to mess it up getting the details wrong. During these difficult times, it’ll be the ones that think about the whole digital customer journey that thrive as things slowly return to normal.
If you are looking for ways to improve your online customer experience or support your call centre teams? Talk to us today, we have the experts in house who can guide you through building a first-class experience that’ll delight all your users and usher in a new dawn of satisfaction and hopefully revenue.
Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.
A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.
So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance.
What is a Content Strategy?
It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.
But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business.
Who are my Audience?
You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.
So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context.
Do I need to tailor content?
As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.
Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:
What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?
Who are they most influenced by?
What voices influence their behaviour?
What type of content do they consume?
Where do they consume content and engage with brands?
Different Content, Different Objectives
All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.
There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.
Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale.
Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels.
Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.
Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.
Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.
How do I manage all this?
Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.
Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.
Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.
If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.