The Sugati team has heaps of travel trade experience. Beyond that, most of us actually like to travel, too. I like it a lot, and love all the details from planning the trip to the anticipation of the build-up, never mind the actual trip.
Most of my trips fall under the umbrella of ‘adventure travel’ – we’re quite used to being asked “why?” when we tell folks where we’re off to. We often travel with small, independent operators, but also travel with some of the “top dogs” of adventure travel and plan our own independent trips too.
We’re off to a strange and far-off land in the summer (another one from the bucket list), with a very small and specialist operator. I haven’t been yet, but am eager in my anticipation – and only more so every interaction we have with them. They’re doing a great job at ‘surprise and delight the customer’.
We first met the company owner about 3 years ago when we’d already made plans for our year ahead, but we’re pretty convinced that when we got round to visiting this far-off land, this would be the company we went with.
We received a little note early in year 2 asking if we’d thought any more about this destination or whether the other country we’d also mentioned being on our top list was going to win out. To help us, the dates for the trip we were looking at the year before were attached. I was impressed. This was a very personal email that referenced all of our choices and preferences and showed he’d clearly listened (and made excellent notes).
So this year, year 3, when we booked, the response we had back was equally personal. It included an invite to drinks on our first night in the capital city of our far-off land (before the trip officially began) and details of the best flight connections for our circumstances. So impressed were we that we took a special trip to one of the London consumer travel shows to hand over the payment in person.
My curiosity was piqued when I had a note that they’d set our app up for us and send the link. That’s not something we were expecting from this company but now it’s arrived. It’s quite simple app – it’s clearly not integrated with CRM and has to be set up independently of any other systems the team are using. Most people aren’t’ going to notice this but I can’t help feel the admin burden for the team in using the app – having to set it up, rather than use data in a CRM to auto-populate the tool.
This apps functionality is quite simple. It has a countdown (only 156 days to get ready), tells me the weather (it’s -17 which is why we’re not going right now!), has all our booking info in place and has a comprehensive overview of the trip.
Of course working on Sugati, I have a real insight into what can be achieved with technology to offer unparalleled customer experience. I am keen to see if this app allows them to deliver some of the other integrated options that I know would make their lives easier. Will we get a push notifications when our final balance is due? A note through the system when we need to apply for our visas (though this might be hopeful)?
This app is clearly quite basic. It opens content as a PDF on our phone browser (no hyperlinks to jump around content). Here’s a customer hint if you’re using this approach. It’s critical to organise your information properly – don’t just upload your “old” approach of a big block of trip notes. Take time to set up categories and indexing so the info about what to pack is not in a 20 page PDF that includes the reading list, itinerary and visa information. Separating this out makes it 100x easier for the user to actually make use of and get value from the information you’ve gone to all that trouble to provide. Better still, use an integrated app that auto pulls the content into place for you.
Aside from actually wanting to take the trip, I’m really interested in what happens after our trip.
Far-off land is the kind of place that most people are only going to go to once in their lives.
This basically means that every year this company have to find new customers. Already we know that much of this comes via recommendation (that’s how we found out about them) so how are they going to capture my feedback and use it to generate more leads?
What this company excels at is personal service – that’s what will garner the bookings and recommendations, but as they grow (and they are growing – more departures, trips, some specialist interests), what technology they use and how it is integrated is going to be more and more important.
It’s vital that the personal touch (are you coming this year or going to the other place?) stays in place and isn’t lost into a flurry of ‘thank you for your enquiry’ blandness. How are they going to individually set up remote apps and ensure content it relevant to each customer without it becoming a big burden? Keep the feedback fresh and useful and use it for leads? See who is visiting their site and is interested and capture their imagination to make an enquiry?
We haven’t been on the trip yet – but I’ll update with what I find when we have been. We know several other hardy travellers looking at this location in the near future so it will be great to see if this company comes to their attention even if we don’t tell them about it when we next meet for a face to face catch up.
If you recognise your Travel Company and situation in this blog, give us a ring and find out more about how Sugati-CRM framework could help. Sugati is a scaleable solution that will grow and expand with your business offering a wide range of features and functionality. Call +44 (0)20 203 176 1249 or drop us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org