How TMCs can achieve multi-channel merchandising success
Posted by Mike Atherton on 16 October, 2015
TMCs are paying more and more attention to the opportunities offered by merchandising after the point of sale. Whether it be the usual hotel attachment, car hire or airport car parking segments, or new approaches such as merchandising NDC airline content, airport retail vouchers, restaurant or event bookings, the view is money is being left on the table.
The challenge TMCs face in being able to rework bookings for missing segments is they mostly don't have the means to control the post point of sale conversation. Other than picking up the phone, which takes consultant time and has an inherent cost, the available channels (mobile, email, online) are either too generic or they're in the control of a supplier, a GDS, or both.
This is compounded by the ‘silo approach’ to communication channels. “Email does one thing, whilst mobile apps or online do another.” With this approach, there's no sense of a coordinated conversation with the traveller. Each channel is independent and out of sync with the other channels.
What agencies need is a way to automate conversations with travellers that still achieves the high levels of personalised service TMCs are famous for, without the cost of re-engaging travel consultants.
Our approach at Mantic Point is to enable agency control of the communication strategy across all channels, at the conversation level. Rather than having multiple, independent communication events occurring at the same time, we move the agency's interaction with the traveller to a coordinated two-way conversation. Instead of sending a ‘mobile offer’ an ‘email campaign’ or an ‘online ad’, we see it as part of a single process to automate and personalise the traveller conversation.
We achieve unobtrusive, personalised, yet automated communication by applying the following approach to post point of sale merchandising.
Identifying the missing segment(s)
This information is available to most agencies. The challenge, however, is identifying the opportunity that comes from the missing segment in operational real time. This enables you to communicate with the traveller whilst the window of opportunity is open.
Understanding the buyer behaviour
Timing is everything. A good consultant will try and sell products the traveller needs at the point of sale. But in reality, the booker may not be ready to buy a particular product straight away. It may be closer to the trip that the traveller decides to buy products such as car hire or event bookings. Understanding the right time to send offers to travellers is key.
Mastering the contextual environment
If the missing segment opportunity exists (e.g. there’s no ground transportation on the itinerary), the product is available (e.g. a limo product in Rome), policy allows it and it’s the right time (it’s forecast to rain when the traveller is due to arrive in Rome) the traveller will respond positively to the purchasing call to action.
Controlling the conversation
This work is of no benefit if the agency doesn't have fine grain control over how the personalised offers get delivered to the right person, via the right medium, at the right time. Generating incremental value is a step-by-step learning process of determining what works for your client and traveller demographics.
We apply this approach to delivering information across multiple channels with our TripGap technology. This way, the agency has the ability to manage its own coordinated campaigns from inception, to delivery and evaluation across mobile, email and online conversations.
Our Holiday Extras case study details how Mantic Point’s merchandising technology achieved a 5.5% increase in car parking sales, with commissions going straight into the pockets of TMCs.