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Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler

By Paula Shannon CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Oct 9, 2015 10:52 AM PT

The rise of social media has given customers a new platform for interacting with travel and hospitality companies, from airlines to car rental agencies. Today's travel customers primarily use these digital technologies to coordinate logistics and log complaints; gone are the days of calling a reservation specialist to book flights or running through seating options at the check-in counter.

Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler

Overall, today's customers require less human interaction with travel companies than ever before. We have entered the age of the silent traveler.

Focus on Mobile and Digital

To keep pace with this trend, travel and hospitality marketers need to ensure that their strategies and approaches to customer engagement are tailored to a digital customer base. Today's silent travelers are mobile-oriented, so travel and hospitality companies should design their mobile apps with seamless user experience in mind: easy-to-navigate interfaces, features and capabilities.

Travel and hospitality companies are responding to the unrelenting growth of mobile by creating mobile apps specific to their organizations or brands. These apps must offer key functionalities that users have come to both expect and demand.

For example, the popularity of mobile boarding passes necessitates that apps not only be reliable for the sake of easing the traveler's burden, but also easy to navigate in the user's native language.

All of these evolutions and improvements have led to more self-sufficient customers and travelers. From purchasing seat upgrades to reserving a specific hotel room, customers have grown accustomed to making pre- and post-purchasing decisions themselves.

Thus, companies need to equip customers with the necessary tools to support them -- such as building a mobile app that provides customers with the autonomy to select their own seats, hotel rooms, meal options and so on.

Put Language First

When silent travelers do choose to interact with a brand, they expect customized content and genuine, local experiences. Eighty-four percent of respondents to a survey from Common Sense Advisory would be more inclined to complete a transaction when content is presented in their native language.

Thus, travel and hospitality companies need to put language at the heart of their content programs.

Considering language early on in the content creation process can help smooth out later translations in a number of ways.

First, it impacts the way content is created -- for example, by minimizing the number of colloquialisms or idioms that are difficult to translate, or preparing appropriately for a content layout that may drastically change based on language. For instance, when laying out a printed marketing brochure, designers need to remain cognizant that German words are much longer than Mandarin's compact characters. These linguistic variations have a direct impact on character counts.

Perhaps most importantly, brands should take the time to develop a global content strategy to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Creating country-specific sites results in an exponential increase in the number of Web properties a brand must own and oversee. Creating and formalizing a centralized governance system for reviewing, approving and updating content across all Web properties can help ensure consistency across regions and languages.

Bring In the Experts

Partnering with a language service provider enables a brand to engage with not only that provider's network of language experts but also its technologies, for a seamless integration between the brand's existing content management system and a global network of translators.

Improved technologies such as machine translation and translation memory -- a responsive database that expands and memorizes words and text strings that have been previously translated -- can help reduce turnaround time and cost.

Giving the language service provider a style guide and glossary of preferred terms and brand preferences for tone, style, voice and more also can accelerate the process by setting clear standards for consistency across all languages.

Language service providers can act as the de facto experts on localization strategy and corporate governance structures. This can ease the burden of managing global campaigns and the volume of content generated by global Web properties and marketing campaigns.

The number of tourists visiting from 16 countries grew by double digits in 2014, according to the U.S. Office of Tourism & Travel Industries. With global travel steadily rising alongside consumers' thirst for digital technologies, it's vital for travel and hospitality brands to offer customer service and interactions in customers' preferred languages and platforms.

As customers are becoming increasingly self-reliant, it is crucial that brands offer a customer experience that is consistent across the globe.


Paula Shannon is chief sales officer and a senior vice president at Lionbridge.


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What's most likely to cost a company your customer loyalty?
a major product fail
major unethical corporate behavior
public advocacy of social or political views I oppose
a really bad customer service experience
stagnation -- I'm attracted to innovation
none of the above -- I'll stick through thick and thin