How to transform traveller emotions into commercial wins

Summer holiday-goers of the world are returning to reality – either with the rose-tinted glow of travel moments past, or a spot of sunburn.

The busy summer period is always a mixed affair. For some travellers it’s populated with Instagrammable memories and global recipe ideas. For others, a nightmare of delays and inclement weather.

But for travel operators of the world, both scenarios present huge opportunities for growth.

Emotion drives consumer behavior – and there’s no other industry that ping pongs emotions up and down quite like travel and hospitality. If we can understand the root causes of those moments of excitement or frustration, it provides the opportunity to fix a problem or capitalise on a success. We designed our emotion analytics tool StarMaker to reveal these insights so our clients can understand what’s happening, why and then use that information to make better decisions.

We have helped clients including IHG, EasyJet, London Underground, British Airways, the Dorchester Collection and Quark Expeditions access consumer needs and turn them into new innovations that drive growth. Using StarMaker, we helped TUI gain a competitive edge by identifying points of excitement and frustration across the entire customer journey – everything from the airport arrival through to meals and facilities. We were able to pinpoint the moments that are most significant in the minds of consumers – things that might seem insignificant, but in fact have a huge impact (such as airport arrivals and transfers).

This kind of analysis is vital. The cost of a bad experience can be enormous. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, more than £5 million was awarded in compensation to air travellers in the first quarter of 2019 – but that figure does not begin to account for the future custom lost due to reputational damage putting off past and potential new clientele.

How can companies begin to turn these challenges into opportunities? First off, travel operators already have mountains of data, from customer preferences, surveys and call centre transcripts. StarMaker combines this data with publicly available content, including social media posts, forums, online reviews and more. It can structure the data and the resulting insights by country, region or city, detailing the customer journey and how to improve upon it, all while looking at what competitors are getting right or how to exploit gaps in the market.

 

Here are a few key industry challenges Happen can help resolve:

 

The challenge: threats to the customer base, and how to beat them

To gain a competitive edge, operators need to benchmark against their peers and interrogate why a competitor may seemingly be getting more positive feedback from consumers.

How can Happen help? We helped TUI identify differences within its own portfolio of products. Drilling down to specific experiences and emotions revealed some packages generate more delight than others. By pinpointing the why, we gave the tour operator the opportunity to capitalise on the positives, and plug any gaps with new approaches. Headlines and marketing might hone in on specific positives, but StarMaker gives a robust overview of the entire category. By interrogating emotional consumer responses to brands and their competitors, StarMaker reveals the ones to watch, why they’re winning and where there is space for brands to excel.

 

The challenge: how to garner loyalty

Loyalty is inherently wrapped in emotion. Every consumer experience creates an emotional response, and these accumulate to drive customers towards or away from a brand. The increase in consumer choice, combined with the expectation for personalised, unique and convenient experiences, means every brand interaction is valuable.

How can Happen help? StarMaker unpicks the layers of experience and emotion that make up a consumer’s perspective. It does this by harnessing the enormous bank of consumer data travel operators have at their fingertips, and combining it with the online conversation. Combined with insights from brands in adjacent categories, we are able to pinpoint the actions that drive and inspire lasting loyalty.

 

The challenge: how to elevate the entire consumer journey

Brands need to be able to identify the moments and features that matter, in order to shift focus to the positives that excite customers and identify and alleviate any pain points.

How can Happen help? Easyjet knew customers were getting overly frustrated with the boarding experience. We interrogated the emotion experienced during boarding and delivered a package that dialled up features with the greatest potential to delight rather than frustrate. We can analyse emotions online at scale to identify the difference between a one-off bad experience and a pain-point that should be remedied immediately. We also do this for adjacent categories, revealing how consumer needs are being exceeded by other industries and how to translate these into new innovations for our clients.

 

The challenge: how to keep up with rapidly changing consumer demand?

If travel operators don’t understand the context driving these rapid changes, they risk getting their proposition entirely wrong and failing in-market. Understand the context, and you understand how to pivot to a future proposition that will connect.

How can Happen help? We helped Quark Expeditions combat the rising tide of low-cost travel options that was eating into its business, by capitalising on the parallel consumer demand for new, exciting experiences. New Quark travel offers such as visiting both Poles within one year led to two seasons of a record 97% occupancy. We help brands zoom in to interrogate individual consumer comments, or zoom out to assess what is happening across entire categories. The result? An action-plan detailing what is driving excitement and where the future opportunities lie.

 

Keen to know how StarMaker works? Download our one pager here or get in touch: ellent@happen.com