Changes in customer approach, sales and marketing – blog series on the status quo of the industry development (part 4)

Changes in customer approach, sales and marketing – blog series on the status quo of the industry development (part 4)

19.07.2021

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What is the current status quo of the industry development?

The Corona pandemic has posed major challenges on the tourism industry worldwide. Therefore, Dr. Fried & Partner and the Travel Industry Club asked at the end of 2020 how things will go in the medium term and carried out a corresponding scenario analysis. Result: A “metamorphosis” of the industry was seen as the most likely scenario. Almost six months later, Dr. Fried & Partner has now carried out a study on the status quo of the industry development to determine how the travel industry has dealt with this period of standstill and whether it has made use of it.

In this blog series we look at the different areas that the study focuses on and provide insights into results and conclusions.

Over half of the sample are managing directors or owners

The survey accompanying the study, which was carried out in cooperation with the Travel Industry Club and in which over 300 industry experts participated, took place from 19 April to 5 May 2021. Over 50 percent of the participants are managing directors or owners. In addition, the sample consists mainly of the segments of tour operators, travel sales, accommodation, IT and data companies as well as consultants.

Changes in terms of customer approach and sales initiated but not yet completed

This article focuses on the question of how extensively companies have made changes in addressing customers, sales activities, and marketing presence since Corona. A scale from 1 (very extensive changes) to 5 (no changes at all) was used to determine how comprehensively changed customer needs are addressed, whether the customer approach has been individualised, how comprehensively an omnichannel approach or new approaches to managing and remuneration of sales partners have been introduced. These aspects have generally not only been relevant since COVID-19 – however, corresponding developments were accelerated and in some cases more strongly promoted during this time.

Companies respond to changing customer needs

The previous graphic shows that in this area, adjustments were primarily initiated to respond to changed customer needs (rating: 2.06). As distance and hygiene rules are currently clearly the focus in all areas, customer advice and support have increasingly been carried out virtually, contactless services have been established and comprehensive provision of digital content and information has been ensured. The travel companies have also reacted to changed customer needs with revised cancellation conditions and longer booking periods.

An individualisation of how customers are approached was initiated, but in general only very cautiously developed further (rating: 2.75). Partly, this has already been initiated before COVID-19. During the pandemic, several companies aimed to identify needs in a more targeted manner, increased personal customer contact and advanced the individualisation of offers. Against this background, campaigns were also flexibly adapted depending on the pandemic situation and new target groups were addressed.

New approaches to the management and remuneration of sales partners are not prioritized

Comprehensive approaches to the management and remuneration of sales partners were barely introduced (rating: 3.45). Rather, this topic is not relevant for almost a third of the respondents. Selective changes to commissions were made and sales targets reduced – whether this is sufficient for a future remuneration logic is questionable, according to the assessment of Dr. Fried & Partner. It remains exciting to see whether the increased efforts for direct marketing by the service providers will lead to sustainable commission savings and whether direct sales approaches based on technical developments such as NDC reduce sales costs. In addition to this, new distribution partnerships between service providers and sales were developed and expanded to establish a closer sales network.

When it comes to the introduction of omnichannel approaches, many companies have so far lagged behind their options (rating: 3.17). In general, due to the pandemic situation, there was a stronger focus on online sales, although the integration of stationary sales into a holistic customer service process has not yet been comprehensively implemented.

Series on the status quo of the industry development

The Travel Industry Club

The Travel Industry Club is opinion, network, and future. This is where the makers and movers of the travel industry meet, and together the future of tourism is thought out independently. This is where complex future topics are discussed, and ideas are developed – and all of this with a view of the bigger picture. In addition, the Travel Industry Club puts the economic importance of the travel industry in the spotlight of the public, media and politics and brings young talents together with the leading players of the industry through the initiative “Young TIC”.

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