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Vice President Digital, IndiGo 

With the advent of the experience economy, people are now seeking a richer life over a life full of riches, a trend particularly prevalent with the millennials. The generation of data natives not only expect the world to be digital but also one which understands their needs. Travel forms a compelling case when we talk about experience economy since the result of a travel purchase is indeed an authentic experience. 

The internet has changed the way travel is bought and sold. Travel companies born in the digital era see this with a different lens compared to the traditional players. While promoting a destination, the focus is now on what experience the destination can deliver to the customer.

Despite all the technology and analytics that companies have, to develop experience, the customer must be given a place in the boardroom. The key is to capture the right insights from the customers and use the same to add value to their lives. It is also a great idea to go one step further and let the customers know how their feedback has helped the business improve.

Gone are those days when customers would shy away from sharing data. Customers now seek relevance, and it has become the biggest reason why they don’t mind sharing their personal information with brands.

Our country is recently smitten by the travel bug, and curated experiences are the next big trend. This has forced online travel players to evolve from booking engines to experience platforms. The idea is to introduced customised ‘bucket-list experiences’ and curate activities that give insight into the local culture. Millennials in India are averaging six holidays a year, and experiences are meaning more than possession of assets. The widespread penetration of mobile phones and affordable data plans has boosted the social media trend, which is another key driver to travel. 

Instead of a plain vanilla holiday, travellers are now looking for more authentic experiences while being open to more travel financing options to strike-off destinations from their travel bucket list. The key here for travel players is to offer flexible payment options on a robust and secure digital system. 

User-generated content is growing in importance, and online travel reviews are majorly influencing travel decisions. Even in the age of the Internet, nothing beats the power of word-of-mouth publicity. Social media has revived the older decision-making process and become the digital word-of-mouth while revolutionizing the way people travel and share information around the world.

As the economy continues to grow, and people adapt fast-paced lifestyles, wellness tourism is on the rise. The industry is moving from a niche concept to one with immense opportunity. Our indigenous and traditional healthcare practices attract people from all over the world, making India a goldmine for wellness tourism. This poses an excellent opportunity for Indian travel players to curate experiences and activities which focus on health and wellness to latch on the trend.

It is just not westerners who travel across the border for health, but also Indians who look at a holiday as an opportunity to rejuvenate and come back stronger to their regular lives. A vast potential lies in India’s tier 2 and 3 cities, where more people now have access to the internet. Wellness is no longer a ‘metro’ phenomenon, and people from these cities are also seeking getaways themselves with the internet is impacting their decision.

When it comes to making a purchase, customers want to be in control, and this has given rise to the self-service economy of offering services that empower them. Millennials look for more value and less hassle, and this is where the option of offering bundled services as per the customer’s needs come into the picture. This means capitalizing on the customer’s tendency to prefer options over a single path as it gives them more control. IndiGo offers its customers an option to choose services – Flexi fares, meal, seat of their choice, priority check-in, excess baggage, hold a booking, and pay later, enabling them to add the desired comfort and flexibility to their flight.

It is essential to have the right digital enablers in place to ensure a seamless experience. Language and the emotional intelligence it encodes is what makes us human, and to cater to a diverse customer base, businesses must invest in multi-lingual marketing strategy. Another significant development is the widespread adoption of voice search, making it another critical tenet of customer experience. 

To summarise, travel industry leaders must recognise the need to provide a seamless customer journey while embracing technology. Both big data and AI have the potential to boost multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, from predicting behaviour and demand to automating services, all of it can contribute to creating a great customer experience. As a travel company, if your focus is on flights, it’s time you also address other related needs like stay and local transportation by providing relevant recommendations and move towards being a one-stop-shop for all the travel needs. 

 

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