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Using travel to establish a brand at the heart of a customer’s affections

The travel industry is bracing itself for a rough ride this year as uncertainties around Brexit are impacting consumer confidence. Euromonitor International has predicted that Brexit could drastically affect the number of outbound holidays booked over the next three years and increase staycations. 

 

With travel habits changing, could this have a knock on effect with the services that banks offer their customers? No matter what is going on politically or internationally, regular holidays are always going to be important to Brits as they often provide precious opportunities to unwind, connect with family and friends and enjoy new experiences and cultures. Last year, UK residents spent £44.8 billion on visits abroad and booked 1.7 holidays overseas, compared to 1.2 per person in 2013. Even if the Brexit situation causes consumers to be more cautious, we predict they will still want to go away. It might however lead travellers to focus on quality rather than quantity and therefore place huge priority on the holiday they are able to take.

 

According to research by Visit Orlando, the average British family begins planning their holiday more than six months in advance, so they have something to look forward to. A study by Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance has found that one in 10 UK adults have already booked their summer getaway for 2019, with just under half having opted for European holidays. Of the rest, 8 per cent were jetting off to North America, 7 per cent to Asia and 5 per cent to Australasia.

 

Banks pioneering into the travel sector

With such deep emotional resonance, it is unsurprising that many banks have looked to bolster their travel value added services. For example, the HSBC Premier credit card offers free Wi-Fi access worldwide through Boingo, airport lounge access and £20 Uber vouchers when flights worth more than £500 are booked. Similarly, challenger bank Revolut launched its Metal Card in the summer with a number of benefits aimed at the business travelling millennial such as a dedicated concierge service and overseas travel insurance. It also offers cashback on transactions made outside of Europe – 1 per cent in either normal or cryptocurrency – as well as unlimited foreign exchanges and free international money transfers

 

Research backs up these developments – statistics show that customers who interact more frequently with a company, use more channels and take up more products show higher levels of engagement. It isn’t just more products that generate engagement, but the right types of products. Specifically, customers are more engaged when they take up products and services that improve their daily lives. That is why travel and lifestyle services are such a great proposition for banks to pursue.

 

Improving your customer’s daily life

The research also shows that emotion plays a key role in purchasing decisions and as travel is something most consumers feel emotional about, it is a fruitful area for banks to explore. The stakes are high and any company that can smooth the process and make a customer’s life easier will be rewarded with a more engaged and loyal customer. 

 

While fears around Brexit and decline in the value of the pound may result in customers booking less foreign holidays, the pressure of “getting it right” when they do go away will only increase. Banks that can relieve this stress by offering a full-service travel experience with expertise, a large database of suppliers and a commitment to delivering superior service can provide real peace of mind.

 

Partnering with travel companies can offer exactly this, as they understand exactly what a customer is looking for and can focus on quality and service, rather than a budget, one-size-fits-all approach. Knowing that the finer details will be taken care  of, and that there will be a specialist available to answer any questions or offer support should something  go wrong, is invaluable. It ultimately saves the customer time and effort and also means they receive expert input over an area of their lives that is very precious to them.

 

There are very few propositions that pull on the heart strings quite like travel does.  It has a significant “feel good” factor around it and the positive association is priceless. That is why banks should consider linking their core offerings with travel propositions. When a bank provides exceptional customer services complemented by an unforgettable travel experience, it will establish its brand at the heart of a customer’s life and strengthen customer loyalty - a priceless commodity in the current competitive environment.

 

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Karen Wheeler

Karen Wheeler

UK Country Manager

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11 Jan 2017

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London

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