Computer Futures consultants Danielle Ahmed and Callum Gardiner interviewed Matthew Pincombe, Salesforce Functional Consultant, to discuss how travel companies can transform customer journeys and experience maximising technologies and capabilities within Salesforce.
When discussing with Matt he spoke about how consumers are now in the driving seat…
From your experience in the travel industry can you tell us about the key factors driving change?
Travel is not different from any other industry at the moment; traditional areas for distinguishing between travel providers such as pricing, availability and access to specific locations are becoming blurred. Alongside this, giants such as Amazon are driving change (divinely discontented consumer) and setting new expectations on what consumers should expect. For travel companies to succeed there needs to be a change in mindset; travel must become an experience and Salesforce as a platform supports this organisational change
Can you explain how Salesforce can support the travel industry?
A travel company will have two key areas of engagement:
1 – Customer Engagement
2 – Business Engagement
Salesforce supports both areas through its offerings, and real, actionable insights are surfaced.
The model above highlights a simplified hypothetical construction. Sat in the centre is Sales/Service Cloud, this is where data is held (or surfaced, if sat in front AWS to reduce those Salesforce data costs!).
The objective of the top half (B2B) is to engage with and bring on as many hotels / package providers / partners as possible. To do this Pardot is a great tool (Marketing Cloud can also be utilised for this). Pardot can be configured extremely quickly and utilised to grade (assign a value on how suitable the third party is) and score (assign a value to their engagement with your material aka how much they want to work with you). Out of the box, email templates can be configured quickly and landing pages spun up. Within no time defined processes for converting business leads (prospects) to accounts can be automated.
A Community layer sits on top of the B2B piece as a Partner Community. Whilst the consumers will generate revenue, great products will bring them to the site, justifying the community expense. A partner community can be utilised to capture partner data (in the travel industry, think applications to flows which allow hotels to tick a box if they have a swimming pool, car parking etc). Reports can be shared with partners and with third party software integrations; electronic contracts could be stored here. A community can also act as a contact centre / help desk to service partner needs.
In addition to the above, data can be surfaced within a partner community to help sales teams negotiate the best possible terms. For example, if the community allowed a partner to submit a request to run a deal, Einstein scoring can be configured to give an estimated score out of 100 on how well that proposed deal will perform. With the announcement at Dreamforce 18 that Einstein can now work on custom fields… the hotel creates a deal through the partner community, the score is a low 40, as the hotel reduces their price the score goes up, as the hotel increases weekend availability the score continues to go up. Before long, Einstein has reviewed historic data, found trends and used them to illustrate to a partner, giving the sales teams real data to back up negotiations and management a more accurate forecast.
The bottom half of the diagram focused on B2C engagement. A travel consumer will expect a travel company to understand their needs; luckily there is Marketing Cloud.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a shell, within it are numerous different tools which allow customer engagement across different channels. Trailhead is the best place to start if you want to find out more about this. Its application to the travel industry is vast and so I have briefly summarised just a small part - Salesforce DMP allows the Marketing team to capture consumer data from billions of interactions across devices. Once captured this data can be acted on to create personalised marketing journeys across multiple platforms (journey builder, email studio, mobile studio), personalise the layout of the travel company website with recommendations, or send customer specific offers.
In addition to marketing data driving personalised sites within Commerce cloud, commerce cloud data can be used to make real time changes to products. Due to integrations between Commerce Cloud and Sales Cloud performance metrics can be seen in real time. With Einstein (AI) acting on this, recommendations can be made about real time changes / alterations to products which could increase margin.
Also within the B2C arena Community Cloud pops up again, this time as a customer community. A community is a great place to manage customer service requests, create travel blogs and encourage your consumers to engage with each other. A community which allows consumers to share their experiences (hopefully positive) will act as inspiration for future customers and build a brand image.
You spoke about experience within the travel industry, could you walk us through an example of how this would look for a customer?
No problem; meet Matt, he is a keen snowboarder and has been searching the internet for last minute deals for a trip away. Whilst searching he comes across ‘Company X’, though he didn’t sign up and continues to browse. As he continues to search he spots an advert from ‘Company X’ for great last minute snowboarding holidays and they convince him to enter an email address.
With the email address ‘Company X’ can send personalised emails to Matt, and eventually one of these takes his fancy and he purchases it. However the experience does not stop there, the countdown is on towards the trip and Matt is sent weather reports, snow conditions, he is even recommended what jackets are in on the slopes this year!
Matt finds this interesting and in one email he notices a link to an article posted on the ‘Company X’ blog. It is the same destination and Matt finds out some great insider tips. In the last few days before the trip Matt realises he needs to add luggage. He jumps on to the community, and is able to live chat to an agent, within a few minutes its sorted and Matt is ready to go.
At the airport Matt is sent notifications on the flight, which gate to go to, a map of the airport and useful medical / insurance details. He even receives a voucher to grab a free beer at the airport bar!
Matt arrives at the hotel and they already know all about him, so in no time at all he is checked in, a lift pass is waiting, and he is ready to hit the slopes.
During the holiday Matt posts some photos of his trip within the community and engages in conversations with other consumers – he recommends the trip to everyone!
After a great trip Matt gets back home and settles back into work, his mind is wondering and ping his mobile flashes it reads: “winter isn’t over yet… there are some great weekend breaks still available.” Matt is hooked and before long he is on a second trip.
That is just one example specifically looking at the booking process. There are others; JW Marriott have recently shown how they are trailblazing in customer centricity too – they are even now able to record your preferred room temperature so every time you stay at one of their hotels the room is personalised for your arrival. If you are interested more can be found HERE.
So where do you see Salesforce going in the future?
There were some really great announcements at Dreamforce 18 and a number of these are relevant to the travel industry.
1 – Customer 360 – This is aimed at providing a single view of the customer. For larger organisations with multiple Salesforce environments this will provide clarity.
2 – Einstein Voice – the natural language processing of voice recognition, put simply allowing you to talk to salesforce. In a few years the application of voice to customer service bots is going to be a game changer.
3 – Mobile Apps – alongside the partnership with Apple an investment in mobile and the ability to create business specific apps and drop them on to app exchanges such as Apple is another way of pushing content both B2B and B2C.