Today there is more variety in options for traveling than ever before. You have airplanes, bike lanes, metro systems, cabs, ride sharing, faster trains and of course, the motorcoach. With the plethora of options how do you stand out as a viable means of transportation – whether intercity route for work and pleasure or as a travel vacation option?
The good news is that today the two biggest traveling generations – Millennials and Baby Boomers – like buses. Both generations are ditching their cars because of city living or just plain sick of traffic jams and are turning to buses to get them where they want to be with the least amount of stress. And Millennials also like multimodal options because they feel that by ride sharing, taking a bus, train or plane they are helping the environment and creating opportunities to socialize and network.
So with all the options out there for people to move from there to here, how can you build a returning customer base?
Everyone loves to feel special and your customers are no different. A simple way to build a loyal customer base is creating a loyalty program personalized for each generation. Millennials want to travel, they want to spend their money but they also are very in tune with the sense of economy and feeling they are valued.
In 2016, the Australian company Directivity produced a report, for love or money 2016, which showed that 57 percent of consumers believe that companies need a loyalty program to keep their customers loyal and this number jumps to 68 percent for millennials.
According to the report, loyalty programs should reward Millennials for interactions such as sharing on social media, writing reviews and completing surveys. While Baby Boomers are not as likely to share on social media, they are more apt to complete surveys and write reviews for your company. It only takes a little reward, such as 20 percent discount on their next trip, to make a big difference in loyalty.
Helping Through the Entire Journey
Whether you are taking the passenger from start to finish on their journey or you are a means to another leg of a journey, giving a helping hand to guide the customer through the entire trip is priceless. One way to help your customers who may be riding with you part of the way, but flying the rest could be educating them about TSA’s PreCheck program.
While participating airlines offer information about the program, wouldn’t it be great as a tour or bus operator if your customer felt that you took that extra step and made them aware of programs that could ease their journey?
Also passengers are trusting you to know the area and know it well. Whether just moving people from city A to city B or planning the whole tour, give your customers some information about where they are heading. Not just about the specific drop off point, but about the area; give a little historical flare or better yet, leave it to “experts” - the locals - and link to bloggers in the area who will showcase the area.
Go that extra mile and give advice on packing clothes, accessories and snacks. The more you walk your customer through their journey the more they will trust you and turn to you for future trips.
Be Mobile Savvy
It seems EVERYONE now has a smartphone of some type. Get hip to the different mobile device carriers and develop your marketing to look its best across all platforms. Today’s travelers are looking for intuitive, user friendly apps enabling them to compare prices and journey times across multiple destinations. They want to see what their journey will look like, not just a list of stops. It is simple to add photos and links to your online itineraries.
Most travelers research and book their trips online. Are you making yourself available to potential customers with easy online booking features? If not, you should start. The fact that other means of travel offer apps to purchase tickets and make reservations means that to remain competitive in this multimodal world you need to stay on top of technology and how customers use it.
The good news is in this multimodal world buses rank as a high option for many generations especially Baby Boomers and Millennials. The more customer-friendly you make yourself, the more you will build a loyal base of travelers choosing you at each turn.