Global travel brands may have spent billions over recent years putting customer love into the DNA of their advertising strategies, but for the majority of today’s holidaymakers and travellers, brand loyalty is firmly a thing of the past.
The Truth Report 2018: The trouble with Real People, conducted by strategic marketing and advertising agency FKC has revealed that the travel industry has less consumer loyalty than any other sector. The research, which spanned 18 major sectors including food & drink, mother & baby, fashion, retail, beauty, and motoring saw the travel industry dominate the ‘lack of loyalty league’, taking the top four positions in the rankings.
In first place, ranking worst for customer loyalty are airlines, with 42 per cent of consumers saying they struggle to remain committed to a flight operator, followed by hotels (40 per cent), tour operators (39 per cent) and holiday destinations (37 per cent). Customers cite high competition and infrequent or irrelevant brand communication as the reason.
Department stores come next, with 33 per cent of customers saying they struggled to stay loyal – a fact FKC says provides a stark warning to those in the travel industry, following the recent turmoil experienced by stores including House of Fraser, Debenhams and BHS.
When asked to name a favourite brand, Amazon topped the league with 5.5 per cent of consumer votes. The first travel brand to be named is Tui, featuring way down the rankings at number 67.
In terms of enhancing customer communication, terrestrial and broadband TV comes out trumps as the most trusted and credible channel for fostering consumer interest and loyalty, with one in five (22 per cent) voting it the most powerful source of brand engagement. This was highlighted by Jet2 and their recent sponsorship of Love Island, who were said to be delighted with the results the sponsorship has delivered to the brand.
According to FKC, today’s travellers expect a seamless customer experience, from the moment they start researching a trip until the moment they arrive back home. The research reveals that emotion plays a significant role in this process, particularly in the buyer journey. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents say emotion comes into play during the awareness and research phase. According to FKC, it’s therefore essential travel brands to play on this knowledge and ensure their personalised communications reflect this.
Stephen Fox, Chairman at FKC commented: “Our research has shown that the heady, halcyon days of unquestioning consumer loyalty are long gone. The sea of consumer choice has diluted customer commitment to brands – even to companies like Amazon.
“The research validates that we find it easier to be loyal to brands that we either use or connect with every day, so the big challenge is how can those in the longer-term purchase category like tour operators and car brands increase loyalty when they are not always on our minds. Key to their success is providing a service and experience that becomes part of our everyday lives. The Jet2 example highlights how television adverts are still a great way to reach target audiences, especially for brands that aren’t an everyday purchase.”
Insights from the survey also revealed the key times a consumer is most likely to engage with a brand communication, and when they are more likely to act. The research shows that this is when consumers are at their most relaxed – for over a third (37%) of buyers this is at the end of the working day and for a quarter (29%) this is just before bedtime. Mornings are the worst time to effectively engage consumers.
People are more likely to shop for key items as well as special one-off purchases at the weekend, highlighting and effective time for longer-term purchases like travel to communicate.