As retail finds new exciting ways to connect with customers, we see a new trend where travel picks up retail strategies to boost sales. How? By thinking like a brick and mortar store.
The cost is dazzlingly high, the change is overwhelming, but, wow, is this a daring and challenging strategy or what?
Learning from retail
Retail? Sure. Retail is one of the leading sectors in the forefront of the battle for the consumer. From going ‘omnichannel’ and combining all touch points – digital and other – to be where customers are when they make a decision, to optimising customer experience through convenience: they lead the charge.
Especially fashion brands excel in giving shoppers exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it. With great success.
Should we follow their example? We already do. We already offer online inspiration and booking services; mobile included. We offer guidance, services and information along the journey, from start to arrival and return.
So it should come as no surprise that travel agencies take things another step forward and try to create the ultimate ‘travel shop experience’, like Skift has points out.
Thinking like a shop
Your travel agency as a brick and mortar shop. What would that mean? How would that work?
To cut costs, it seems logical to limit office space, but chances are you become almost invisible to passers-by. Turn that idea around, and be very present where people are. Shopping streets and high-traffic areas. Some agencies manage to work together with a larger brand and have an office in a store: a Scandinavian design store hosts an agency specialized in Scandinavian travel in Antwerp.
From a co-working space to a lounge area and a wine or coffee bar. The more inviting your agency-shop is, the more people you’d attract. The greater the experience once they’ve entered, the greater the chances they’d stay and come back.
Rich in-store media.
See how fashion brands inspire customer at point of sales: magazines, books, large displays with fashion shoots and pictures. Imagine inspiring people to discover new destinations that way in your ‘store’. You could gather their data through an iPad too and be able to e-mail them later on. We’ve seen pilots with VR travel experiences pop-up here too.
Getting people to come over? Host an event: Italian wine tasting, Scandinavian design trends, French cheeses: the link with travelling to countries and regions is easily made, and it’s a great way to show your local expertise. Plus: it would give you some nice social mentions as well.
Now, imagine discussing travel with customers in that context. Conversion rates could go up to 83%, the Omaha-based The Departure Lounge claims.
This may not seem new. We do have travel cafés in the Benelux, and shops with travel gadgets built around a travel agency. But thinking like a ‘true shop’ takes this a lot further: it’s a whole new level of travel retail and customer experience.
True, though: the cost is steep and it’s not a decision to be made overnight. But the first signs of this trend seem to say it works, just like it does in retail.