Travel Disruption Summit Guest Blog
Editorial Note: Raleigh&Drake has been selected as the moderator guiding the “Travel Roundtable” at the Travel Disruption Summit, a one-day symposium bringing together thought leaders in the travel industry to New York City on May 23rd. During the event, participants will discuss the opportunities for innovation at each phase of a traveler’s experience, including the actual travel to a destination.
As digital disruption continues to generate seismic shifts in the world’s largest industry, one foundational maxim remains unscathed: customer demands dictate the direction in which the industry will move. It may be trite at this point to mention that travelers are increasingly moving towards digital and mobile booking. The interesting corollary here is that as consumers become more comfortable with making large online purchases and get used to the ubiquity of ‘on-demand’, the notion of being able to book anything & anywhere moves from novelty to expectation. What commenced with Uber (transportation), has moved on to HotelTonight (accommodations), OpenTable (restaurants), and onwards to essentially every other in-destination travel product.
As early as 2013, 60% of hotel reservations were being made on the day of the guests’ arrival. Today, over 60% of travelers book their tours and activities on the same day as the experience itself. Adding the above to inarguable indicators reflecting growth in both interest and spend on travel, this portrait should represent a golden age for travel companies.
And yet there is a stark disconnect between this boon in travel interest, and the degree of affinity customers have for travel brands. A recent survey by Customer Thermometer found that only 2% of those surveyed hold any emotional connection, the necessary ingredient to generate loyalty, for brands in hospitality or aviation. Moreover, that same study places trust and personalization — the brand’s understanding of the client’s individual preferences — as crucial catalysts for creating an emotional bond between the customer and the travel brand.
Our industry has an incredible opportunity to build unparalleled emotional bonds with our customers; loyalty that can both dramatically reduce the reliance on tactical marketing tools such as Google and SEM, and unlock ancillary revenue opportunities that enhance rather than diminish the guest experience. This is our mission at Raleigh&Drake.
Raleigh&Drake is a white-label ‘bookable content as a service’ platform. Put simply, we provide travel brands with the ability to deliver personalized, bookable recommendations and city guides, aggregated from some of the most trusted sources on earth. Through seamless integration, our platform can populate a brand’s website, mobile apps, confirmation emails and even inflight entertainment systems. Trusted content delivered at every point of the traveler’s journey for on-demand booking drives customer engagement, increases brand loyalty, and opens up valuable new revenue streams in the $1.5 Trillion annually spent by travelers in-destination.
The Raleigh&Drake platform in action, integrated into a hospitality brand’s mobile app
Airlines, hotels, and other travel brands facilitate unforgettable travel experiences for millions of customers every day. They get us to the destination and let us stay there in comfort and security, enabling those magical, Instagram-worthy moments. And yet they rarely foster affinity, nor see much ancillary revenue from the in-destination spending they’ve catalyzed.
But what if the brands can take an active role in uncovering the true soul of a destination, providing the traveler with incredible insights tailor-made for their unique set of preferences, all enabled for on-demand booking, and freely offered as part of an unparalleled guest-experience? Can a travel brand be the ‘Yoda’ to the customer’s ‘Luke Skywalker’? Conditions are ideal for a return of the travel brand to its heroic stature, and Raleigh&Drake is here to help light the path forward.