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Personal vacations have traditionally been a symbol of status. But within the last two decades, that’s all changed. We’ve seen a shift in both the affordability and accessibility of being able to plan a trip with the introduction of “travel hacking” tools. Wanderlusters everywhere are using flight fare sites and apps and discounted hotel fare apps to plan the perfect and much-needed vacation. So what’s next? Enter the rise of travel clubs. Travel communities created by groups of friends or people with similar interests are forming their own groups to coordinate international excursions. The days of using travel agents are coming to a close as consumers are taking their travel plans into their own hands. But this is not without its own challenges, with many travel websites and apps lacking the tools needed to satisfy both the organizers and attendees. With group travel on the rise and ready for disruption, pioneers have taken notice. Some have even started piloting new trip-planning features for group vacations. So how can travel and hospitality companies stay ahead of the trend and meet customers ever changing needs? Here are a few ways we’re seeing travel and hospitality brands improve group travel experiences while keeping the customer first.
Somebody’s gotta pay when it comes to planning a vacation, but could it be less painful? Absolutely! There are two things that create friction when it comes to booking group travel. The first is figuring out payment. When it comes to large groups, the cost can quickly hike up, leaving one person to take on the brunt of it all. One way to make it easier for everyone involved is to create options for split payments. By creating an opportunity for splitting payments, you’re creating one less barrier for your consumers to finish their transaction, all while leaving them with an experience that met their needs. Another issue many group travelers experience is having some members of their trip dropping out last-minute. Unfortunately, this results in a mad dash to find something more affordable or the group eating the extra cost that they didn’t account for. One way to combat this is by allowing everyone in the group to split the cost of a reservation equally by a set deadline. This makes it easier on the group, both when it comes to payment as well as navigating any changes that might pop up in the planning stages.
Villas, condos, cottages—the possibilities are endless. With so many options to choose from, you can only imagine how long a text or email thread can become while everyone is sharing their ideas. Many group travelers use group messaging apps for easy communication in the planning stage, but what if these were integrated with airline apps, keeping all communication and booking in one easy place? Finding the gaps along your customer’s journey and discovering ways you can meet them is crucial to staying ahead. If you’d like to expand the collaboration capability further, try adding the ability to track flights and check-ins from multiple origins in one collaborative workspace. Since the nature of group travel usually means that many of the travelers are flying in from a variety of destinations, it gets confusing to track who is traveling from where and the times that people are arriving. By creating an end-to-end experience that continues to provide help even after the purchase has already been made, you’re ensuring that your customers will return for more, building customer loyalty that can’t be bought.
When it comes to travel and hospitality, it’s about the end-to-end experience, not just making sure your customers have access to booking their transportation and accommodations. Keeping in constant communication with your audience is key. It helps you stay in tune with the challenges they’re experiencing while finding ways to build for what they need. By building customer empathy into every element of your product, you’re more likely to move the needle and be at the forefront of the wave that’s disrupting the industry. Continue to make sure you’re meeting your customer’s needs and providing experiences that keep them coming back and better yet, telling their friends about it.
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