This year’s Digital Travel Summit has promised to take attendees on an imaginative journey, calling for travel companies and decision makers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers. This theme aligns well with Fusion’s goal of helping travel providers to sell smarter. This means knowing your customer base, applying personalization, and ensuring that each interaction strengthens consumer relationships by continuously providing value. Bottom line: selling smarter means providing the right offer to the right customer at exactly the right moment.

As the conference ‘journey’ suggests, customers purchase travel in a process that includes several phases: dreaming, researching and planning, booking, preparing, experiencing, and following up (such as recommending or re-booking). The ultimate destination for travel companies is earning the consumer’s loyalty, which can be achieved by proactively supporting the consumer before, during and after their journey. Shifting your sales platforms to guide customers through each phase of the journey can help build that elusive loyalty and lead to repeat business.

During the Summit, Fusion will be sharing insights about the strategic use of ancillary sales and how this program—when successfully implemented by travel companies—enables them to sell smarter, improve customer experience, and build loyalty. By intelligently harnessing data, travel providers can make better offers that please customers and enhance the bottom line.

A recent case study of a large U.K. based airline reveals that smart use of ancillary sales generated approximately 83 percent of the company’s total income. This is huge! And yet there is a large untapped market for ancillary sales with consumers wanting more sophistication in the offers presented through using data to better understand them.

In a survey from Forrester Research, more than half of the companies reported moderate to significant improvement in these areas by using ancillary sales:

  • Competitive differentiation
  • New product development
  • Relationship with customer
  • Personalized offerings
  • Innovation
  • Customer experience
  • Margins
  • Revenue
  • Conversion of core products in the purchase funnel

Overall, this research uncovered that while many companies have ancillary offerings, very few are fully leveraging the opportunity that ancillaries can provide. The leading challenges companies identified were: current technology not allowing customization of ancillary product sales, getting executive buy-in for ancillary sales, lacking relevant product options, and not having the staff who can focus on this program.

Essentially, we see the successful implementation of ancillary sales stemming from three practices:

  • Using data. This entails capturing and making sense out of all the data that can possibly be collected about your customers. Data can be used from past purchases, Big Data trends, and customer profiles to help you better understand individuals and what they want.
  • Creating a merchandizing platform. All the insights gathered from data to create an attractive, easy-to-use platform for your customers. The key is to make your website accessible and responsive to individual customers across all devices.
  • Continuing to test and optimize. Once you have a merchandizing platform, it shouldn’t stay the same for years. In fact, you need to continuously test and optimize for improving ancillary sales to customers.

Returning to the customers journey, if you use data to better understand customers, present them personalized offers while they shop online, and continuously improve the presentation through testing, the customer leaves with an improved experience while growing the company’s bottom line.

As you engage in sessions and meetings at the Summit, we encourage you to gather insights and think about how intelligent digital approaches can not only improve sales revenue but enhance the experience and loyalty of valued customers.