As the glow of the hottest summer on record starts to fade, we’re ramping up our presence at various industry events over the next few months. First up, we’re heading back to the event for any discerning travel marketer, the Travel Marketing Conference.

You may remember we were at the event last year, with Michael Feeney extolling the virtues of Call Intelligence alongside Kevin McAllister…

And this year, Account Director Alex Hughes will be taking to the stage to talk about a little elephant in the corner of marketing rooms up and down the land. The contact centre.

We sat down with Alex ahead of the event to discuss all things travel and where he sees the future of the contact centre going.

Alex, you’re a bit of a traveller yourself aren’t you.

Absolutely. I’m constantly on the lookout for my next big trip, which is why an event like the Travel Marketing Conference is like a red rag to a bull for me. Trip to Pamplona anyone?

OK, so you know a thing or two about booking holidays…

For sure. I know that regardless of how much you earn, holidays are a big investment. And your time is precious, especially when you’re working hard all year. When you’re spending so much time and money, you always want to make sure you’ve made the right choice.  

So what does this mean for the marketers you’ll be speaking to at the event?

With the volume of review sites out there now, people are becoming less and less loyal to brands as they’re so much more aware of choice. This makes marketing more difficult than ever before. I personally think there’s real untapped potential in inbound phone calls, and not just because I work for a call tracking provider.

I’m a big fan of Think with Google and I read this piece recently about the travel industry based on summer 2018 data. I thought it was so interesting that 41% of people think that family holidays are more stressful than they are fun! With that in mind, people want to be sure that they have made the right decisions about their trips – they want to feel confident and as prepared for their holidays as possible. One of the key ways to do this is by making a phone call, to speak to a trusted advisor, as opposed to wading through the noise left by millions of online ‘keyboard warriors’. Which is why I think marketers need to look at their contact centres again and embrace them, as opposed to shy away from them.

One of our takeaways from last year’s event was the importance of ‘magic-making’, or in other words, creating unique and memorable moments. Is this still the case do you think?

Absolutely. And that’s true for the entire end-to-end booking experience, from first click right through to putting the phone down after booking. Phone calls have traditionally been the thorn in the side of digital marketers as the channel they can’t control. It’s easy to optimise a landing page for conversions; it’s more difficult to optimise phone calls. Imagine if marketers could have more control over phone calls and could optimise them and the experience offered on-call. Many businesses already have the in-house talent at their disposal to do this. Think about destination experts or those with relevant experience taking certain calls.

This all contributes to why we think travel marketers will ultimately get much closer to their contact centres, instead of looking at them as separate entities with differing KPIs. I’ll be talking more about this at the event, how Call Intelligence could be the secret weapon of marketers and contact centres everywhere.

Personalisation has obviously been a marketing buzz word for decades. Do you think it’s still important in this industry?

Totally. Consumers now just expect a superior level of personalisation as standard. They don’t want to waste their time having to explain to call handlers their preferences when they’re ringing up and booking a holiday. Another Think with Google study from earlier this year says that “36% {of travel consumers) would pay more for more tailored information and experiences”. So, if a call handler could be armed with data showing them exactly what that customer had been looking for on their website before they called, this could have big financial rewards.

Thanks Alex and good luck with your speech. 

Come and listen to Alex at the Travel Marketing Conference, speaking at 2.35pm. Or visit our stand on the day. We’ve got some super fancy Bose headphones to give away.  We are also offering a whopping £200 off tickets to the event. Get in touch on Twitter @ResponseTap to find out more about this offer.

Call tracking in the travel industry is vital to understand where customer calls are coming from. And this September we’re speaking at the Travel Marketing Conference.