By Tom Mcloughlin, Founder, SEO Travel
Customer loyalty is incredibly valuable. Not only does it help generate repeat business and stability, but it also improves your company image and helps your brand to reach a wider audience, leading to more customers who may become loyal to your brand in turn.
Increasing customer loyalty should be a key part of any travel company’s business strategy, especially if they are working towards significant growth. In this article, we explain twelve of the best customer loyalty techniques that you can implement for your business today.
What is Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty is a concept referring to the strong relationship between a brand and its customers. It relates to how willing a customer is to support and purchase the service or offering of a business, and occurs when they trust and feel an emotional connection to the brand.
Loyal customers often promote the brand they support to the people around them and frequently make use of their offering. They may actively engage with their content and encourage others to do the same, as well as making repeat purchases when possible.
There are numerous benefits to having loyal customers; they generate repeat business, they share your content, and most importantly they promote your offering to other people because they genuinely believe in it. This is the most effective way of gaining new customers, as personal recommendations assure potential customers that they are purchasing something good.
Customer loyalty is an incredibly important part of success for all kinds of brands, but in the travel industry in particular it’s a key way of ensuring financial stability and a positive brand image. Most people only book travel experiences once or twice a year, but having loyal customers who continue to return to your business or agency helps to keep your income steady and make planning for the future easier.
12 Effective Customer Loyalty Techniques
If you’re a travel business wondering how to build loyalty with customers, the following 12 techniques will help you to start establishing relationships and building trust with your target audience.
1. Understand your Customer Base
First things first; if you want to create loyal customers then you need to understand who they are and what they care about.
In order to build meaningful and successful relationships, start by analyzing your existing customers base and identifying common traits within this group. What is the average age and background of your target audience? What kinds of travel experiences do they book the most? What do they care about most when it comes to finding a holiday provider?
Once you understand your customers, you can then start figuring out the best strategies to reach out to them and inspire loyalty and connection.
2. Create a Community
As well as creating strong relationships between yourself and your customers, you should also consider the ways that you can build a community between your customers. Creating an exclusive group is a great way to make customers feel special and encourage communication between them that will further establish your business as a positive place.
Whether it’s a forum for sharing travel advice or a space for accessing exclusive content and deals, by building a special community of customers you also give potential customers another reason for wanting to join. Granting access to this community through repeat bookings or purchases is a great way to ensure that everyone benefits, as well as strengthening the connection between you and your audience.
3. Interact on Social Media
Social media is one of the most effective tools you can use in your customer engagement strategy. A key part of customer loyalty is building relationships, and social platforms are one of the best places where you can interact and communicate with your customer base.
Begin by simply replying to comments and ensuring that you respond to any messages that are sent to your profiles. Then think about the other ways you can facilitate engagement; could you host a live stream or collect data through a poll? Could you ask customers to share photos of their experiences with you and repost the best ones?
Not only will this make your followers feel more connected to you, but it also paints your brand in a positive light, which is always good for business.
4. Offer Travel Advice
Trust is an essential component of customer loyalty. In the travel industry, one of the best ways to build trust is by establishing yourself as a useful source of information, which you can do by sharing exclusive travel advice.
Whether this is done through general content or personalised recommendations that you send to customers before their trips, take the time to curate genuinely valuable travel advice that you can share with your customers. Instead of generic suggestions for destinations and vague guidance, share exclusive knowledge and actionable advice so that your customers learn to trust you when it comes to travel and are more likely to book with you again.
5. Personalise Communication
Personalisation is another of the most effective techniques when it comes to creating customer loyalty. People love to receive content and communication that has been tailored to their interests and preferences, and it’s a brilliant way to start building meaningful relationships with your customers.
On a basic level, you can start by using customers’ names in the communication you send out to them. If you have an email marketing strategy, this can be further personalised by setting up segmented responses that will ensure they receive email content that they are genuinely interested in.
You can learn a lot about your customers based on the kinds of travel experiences they book with you, the content they engage with and the feedback they share. You should use all of this information (where appropriate) to tailor how you communicate with them, the information you share and the offers you suggest, as this will make your audience feel personally cared for and increase their affinity with your brand.
6. Offer Flexibility
Flexibility with bookings is always a benefit, especially at the moment. If you want to encourage loyal customers and repeat business, offering flexible booking policies is a fantastic way to make sure your services feel more ‘human’ and that customers are more inclined to book with you again, particularly if this isn’t something that is offered by your competitors.
7. Incentivise Repeat Bookings
A very popular technique for creating customer loyalty is offering incentives for repeat bookings or purchases. This way, customers are more motivated to continue to support your business which helps to start building loyalty.
A classic example of a repeat booking incentive is offering a discount when a customer books another trip in a set period of time after their first one. Or, you could offer a bonus experience or a free upgrade for a repeat booking instead.
Setting up a customer loyalty scheme is another great way to create incentives, especially if you offer tiers of rewards. By giving your customers large discounts or more valuable extras the more times they book with you, you’re much more likely to retain customers over a longer period of time instead of just getting two bookings and then nothing else.
8. Offer Rewards
In a similar vein to that last point, offering one-off rewards to customers is another great way to encourage loyalty to your brand. There are a variety of different ways you can do this, from running competitions to organising prize draws or simply offering rewards for particular customers.
A classic method for rewarding your customer base is to run competitions on social media, which will also encourage more engagement on your profiles and ideally increase the reach of some of your posts. You can also run competitions for rewards through your email marketing channel, helping to incentivise more people to sign up to your mailing list.
The rewards you offer can be anything from discounts to entire travel experiences, depending on your budget or the size of your company. Offering these helps to increase customer loyalty as it provides a general incentive to continue following your brand across various channels, and also establishes you as a company that wants to give back to its customer base, which creates more positive connotations.
9. Refine Your Offering
In order to keep your customers loyal and interested in the travel experiences you have to offer, you need to ensure that what you are offering is competitive. Instead of sticking with the same tour packages or accommodation every year, you should continually keep an eye on what your competitors are offering and ensure that you are keeping up.
Even if it’s just minor changes based on customer feedback, demonstrating a continual strive for excellence will improve your brand image and ensure that customers continue to trust you and think of you when booking a holiday. It also means that existing customers are unlikely to get bored of your offering and seek new experiences elsewhere, helping to retain them for longer.
10. Respond to Trends
Based on that last point, keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in the travel industry and adapting your offering to reflect these is another key way to keep your customers loyal. When it comes to travel, many people are seeking new and memorable experiences, so they’re going to be more attracted to brands that offer these.
The kind of travel service or product you offer will impact what kinds of trends you can reasonably respond to, but it’s still definitely worth keeping track of the latest developments. This also benefits your brand image as it will demonstrate that you are someone in the industry with their finger on the pulse, which makes you more appealing to potential customers as well.
11. Improve Your Customer Service
Nothing deters repeat business like bad customer service. If you want your customers to remain loyal, you should ensure that any contact they have with your team is going to be positive and productive.
Improving your customer service can happen in a variety of ways, from hiring more staff to devote more time to each customer, to setting up automatic responses so that customers get instant updates when they submit a question. You should also make sure that your customer service aligns with the ‘voice’ of your brand, as this will create a more cohesive brand image and improve the customer experience.
Having excellent customer service also encourages brand loyalty as it means that your existing customers are likely to tell other people about your excellent service, who in turn will trust your company and support your offering.
12. Collect and Respond to Feedback
Finally, if you want to build a trusting relationship with your customers, create a forum for collecting feedback on the ways you can improve your service and/or offering. This will help your customers to feel as though they have an open channel of communication with your brand, strengthening the relationship and building trust.
Asking for feedback also gives you ways of identifying where you can do better as a travel business, which will help you to refine your offering and hopefully attract more customers. Demonstrating that you actively respond to feedback and suggestions also makes customers feel listened to, and demonstrates to potential customers that they will be listened to as well.
Customer loyalty is about more than regular bookings and incentive schemes; it’s about building relationships of trust and support that benefit everyone involved. Travellers nowadays want to purchase trips and experiences with brands that they genuinely care about and feel an affinity with, and creating customer loyalty is a key way to ensure this.
If you’re looking for help marketing your travel business and improving customer loyalty, get in touch with SEO Travel for a chat and to find out more about the range of marketing services that we offer.