In the face of intense competition and online price aggregators, travel companies have to provide unique experiences to set themselves apart.
At least that’s the sentiments of John O’Neill, Managing Director of marketing agency, Komosion.
O’Neill has worked with Sydney Olympics, as CEO of Tourism NSW, and has worked with the likes of Flight Centre and Accor during his time at Komosion.
O’Neill believes that with competition between all forms of travel agents, and the transparency of online pricing, it’s the customers who wield the power to choose who they book with.
“In the age of digital disruption, brands are much more about ‘lived experience’ than ‘perceived experience’, and customer loyalty is much shallower,” said O’Neill.
“You have to stand for something beyond price.
“One of our clients, the boutique luxury hotel group Lancemore, aims to provide its customers ‘moments of bliss’ – which could be as simple as dinner and wine under the stars. It’s a much more compelling proposition than just a room for the night.”
O’Neill said the most important leadership quality for businesses suffering from disruption is the ability to look at a business from the outside in, and to stand in the shoes of a customer.
“You have to ask ‘Am I really giving them value and an experience above a transaction?’
“Work out how and where you want to be different – what you want to be famous for – and be single-minded about that.
“If you could start again with a blank slate, how might you be doing things differently today?
“If you would be doing things differently, then you probably need to find a way to change your business, regardless of the challenges.”
Ultimately though, O’Neill thinks that customer service is still at the heart of the travel business.
“The travel industry is outstanding at customer service, it has to be. Customers must feel like they matter,” he added.
“Perfect service is getting a cool glass of water just before you realised you were thirsty, it’s feeling carefully attended to.
“This is the lifeblood of the industry and the reason customers will stay loyal.”