Digital Travel US 2018

April 30-May 02, 2018


When Digital Engagement Gets Complicated: Finding Your Window of Opportunity

Travel marketers are constantly competing for the wandering eyes of customers looking to book the trip of a lifetime. To win the booking, brands need to be felt across all digital channels. From websites to mobile apps to social pages, it’s more important now than ever to give your customers a digital experience that is almost as good as their trip!

How well do you know your customers?

When it comes to the travel industry, we all understand the importance of knowing our customers. In today’s increasingly digitized landscape, optimizing customer engagement has never been more complicated. With countless sources of ecommerce at customers’ fingertips, strategies for captivating prospective travelers can get lost in the whirl of Androids, MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones.

While in the past we focused efforts on getting a customer to hit “Book now,” digital strategy extends far beyond that initial touch-point. Travelers want a dynamic, personalized digital experience—and they want it every step of the way.

Customers’ insatiable appetite for digital communication presents our greatest challenge. It also offers our greatest opportunity. By taking a multi-faceted approach to digital strategy, we can enhance brand loyalty and optimize customer satisfaction at every stage of the travel experience.

What’s in a number?

In a survey conducted by Digital Travel Summit 2017…

77 percent of customers said email is their communication of choice when being contacted by hotels, airlines, and other travel groups. Text message communication ranked above phone calls.

When asked how they conduct travel research, over 36 percent of people said they use both personal computers and mobile devices.

72 percent of respondents said customer service was either “very important” or “wouldn’t consider it otherwise” when booking travel.

Digital engagement is no longer just an option for travel companies; it’s the only way to effectively connect with a 21st century audience. With consumers now using a variety of digital platforms, it is more critical than ever to adopt digital strategies that are nimble, innovative, and customer-centric.

The digital landscape is shifting, and we all must take action to keep up.

Mobile apps are up in the air

Finnair ranks among the top European airlines in the skies today, and carries over ten million passengers every year. The airline is the only Nordic carrier that has a 4-star Skytrax ranking, is a consistent winner of the World Airline Award for Best Airline Northern Europe, and serves as a pioneer in sustainable flying technology.

Jaron Millner is the Vice President of Direct Business at Finnair, where he brings in direct business for the airline. No one understands better than Jaron the importance of tapping into digital channels to drive revenue.

In 2014, Finnair partnered with Reaktor, a creative agency, to develop a mobile application that would provide customers with greater ease while traveling. The app helps travelers book flights, check in to flights, track Finnair Plus points, and more. It also provides advice to help customers prepare for upcoming trips and reduce the stress associated with airport travel.

Jaron Millner explained: “Our primary objective for the application has been to make the travelling experience as smooth as possible for users. Early on in the development phase with Reaktor, we put a lot of time and emphasis on the application’s service design to ensure that the different functionalities made the journey easier for travelers.”

Finnair’s mobile app won the coveted Red Dot Award, an award given by a jury of 26 leaders in design. The application is available for iOS and Android devices, as well as for the Apple Watch. It showcases the potential for digital travel to have multi-screen capabilities.

Konsta Hansson, the General Manager for Reaktor Aero, said: “Finnair made a very brave decision by renewing their digital services and are already making waves within the air travel industry. At the moment, Finnair is a trendsetter and the company will be under close scrutiny in the near future as more and more companies want to grasp the full potential of digitalization.”

Let’s learn from the best

This spring, we have the privilege of hearing Jaron Millner share the keys to his success in digital strategy. His talk at Digital Travel Summit 2017 focuses on how to keep up with the modern day traveler, who is often attached to (and seeking information from) multiple devices. Jaron will teach us how to capitalize on opportunities to deliver value to the customer, on every possible touch-point along the way. This also means finding effective ways of balancing increased digitization with a continued commitment to customer service.

If the story of Finnair’s mobile app teaches us one thing, it’s that digitization and personalization are not mutually exclusive. If we can learn to optimize both, through tailored content and streamlined user experiences, the sky truly is the limit—not just for one airline, but for all of us.

Digital Travel Summit is the premier interactive event for travel, hospitality and leisure executives. Join us to take your digital, eCommerce and customer experience strategies to the next level with enhanced personalization at every touch-point. This year’s event will be held in Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas, from May 8-10. Click here to find out more.

Katie Koppel
is a freelance writer based in Boston. She specializes in business and health-related content, and can be reached at

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