5 The New Customer Path
Understanding customer path is imperative for all industries. What is important is to build quality touch points and it has to be quality versus quantity. Touch points is the way you connect to your customers, critical areas that the customer values. Mapping customer path or journey is a tool to strengthen channel presence. By knowing how to create awareness, how they research, what motivates the guest and what can be the out of the box experience of guests at the resort would help modify a strong differentiator. In order to leverage on communication, there has to be a peer to per communication, the resort should consider building a better mind share, heart share and market share that will build brand loyalist. This will maximize operations efficiency and effectively, addressing the needs at the resort by attending to the immediate requests of the guests that will create a good story that will be shared to his/her direct network of friends and families. Stories worth sharing like, how they were able to recover a lost key or cell phone after an outing/camping.
Understanding How People Buy (from 4As to 5As)
In keeping the resort relevant, there is a need to track customer behavior and this is possible by following the 4 A’s frame work. As suggested it stands for Aware, Attitude, Act and Act Again. It was formerly an AIDA customer path concept that is modified to track post purchase customer behavior as well. At the resort Awareness starts with learning about the resort from friends. Attitude will address the like or dislike of a potential guest. The questions below research may help them decide if they will like it or not. Act is the new purchase. The questions below are decision factors in buying or booking a reservation. Act again is the out of the box experience, a determinant if they will recommend it to others or will they go back and visit the resort once again to share the experience to those who have not tried it or even to the same people because they liked the service.
The 4 A’s frame work also discusses the funnel and the conversion ratio from awareness to repeat guests. A certain percentage for example who are aware will be drilled down to those who will research or show interest, then down to a smaller percentage who will purchase or book and then act again is relatively lower than those who are likely to come back from the first visit. Once the resort is recommended or a guest came back then loyal advocates are earned. In Shift 1, a customer path must adapt to issues in connectivity and increased influence of social media FB page and Ads. This may be represented into a sample marketing funnel like in website as digital channel like the figure below:
Shift 2, the new customer path should be aligned to building guest who are willing to be brand advocates and not just focused on building a repeat or loyal guests, they should be satisfied enough to spread the word. Moreover, the new customer path should take into account connectivity among customers through forums or beach related FB groups to deepen their awareness via direct communication. A positive communication is very important to deepen relationship of the resort to its potential guests.
The Shifting Customer Path in a Connected World
In shift 3, guests at the resort connect to travel advocates and travel bloggers and heavily read reviews online. Guests nowadays are willing to share their experience online from the time they have researched, experience customer service or reservation experience down to the treatment of resort staff. The conversation with the brand and its representative can challenge how the business do things the normal way, it may weaken and strengthen the brands image as well.
The 5 A’s on the other hand added “Advocate” at the last column. Aware is where they resort guests have been exposed to the brands name, have heard it somewhere or from someone. The brand is recognized in the field of tourism, resorts and beach camping. Appeal is amplifying the short term memory, this is where response is seen as they take some necessary steps to know more about the product, and the more curious the more effective is the brand appeal. Researching due to curiosity is the Ask factor driven by curiosity, they call friends for feedback, crowd sourcing in FB, read online reviews or even call the reservations office for more info and inquire for package rates. A combination of offline and online strategies will help guests to make decision based on others suggestions and comments. Act in this new shift is not limited to purchasing, it is also the holistic experience from the time they call to inquire down to going to the resort. The guests are keen observer of how the brand character is portrayed by the employees, how their thoughts are being addressed and needs being delivered. Advocate is retention, repeat guest visits and making them love the service that they will go back and become evangelists, the offline strategy of sending out a simple questionnaires after the outing of asking “if they will recommend, why and why not?” could be a good strategy to build more brand ambassadors.
However, the path in 5A’s is not traditional straight forward flow, some guest that we may consider brand advocates may not necessarily experienced the resort, these can be our distant relatives or even family loyalist who may also spread positive brand image. It may also be spiral in the sense that not all who have inquired will book or those who have experienced will try other resorts. Return guests does not necessarily need to go from awareness stage and will just loop to the feedback and act and book again. This non-traditional flow may be an avenue to discover rooms for improvement.
1. Driving from Awareness to Advocacy (the Ozone 3)
Marketing 4.0 focuses on Owned, Other, Outer as referred to the Ozone 3. In old marketing concept this is the Owned, Paid and Earned Media concepts respectively. The most important of all is getting brand advocates through “the outer” concept which is created by a good brand appeal. Maximize “the other” which refers to channels which creates curiosity that makes potential guest ask and inquire and create awareness through “the owned.”
In application, the resort could have the ff own, other and outer to drive advocacy.
2. Summary: Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act and Advocate
The 5A’s is designed to determine the ways on how the guests can reach you, how you can tap the interest and desires of your target market. This also can help you improve your conversion rate once you have identifies critical patterns that might hinder them in booking at the resort. This would also tell you the importance of having loyal advocates and not just stopping at the end sale but on how to amplify word of mouth by getting others to recommend you. This is a critical concept in making a marketing plan and business strategy. This could also identify problems and complaints of guests by combining online and offline platforms. This is a good tool to raise awareness and curiosity and further improve brand image. The 5 A’s aids in developing connectivity among potential guests from awareness to advocacy. Gaining advocacy is the identifier of a successful marketing campaign. Reaching out and gaining earned media who will speak highly of your product or services.
A. How can your brand identify and leverage the most critical touch points in the customer path?
The resort can maximize and leverage on tapping the customer buying patterns or the frequently asked questions, the barriers and other issues should be addressed to boost the resort’s full potential, this can help in creating more advocates by leveraging on channels which are means of communication between the brand and its guests. It can also be used in competitor analysis to develop a better brand differentiator.
B. How can your business improve brand favourability and optimize marketing efforts by evaluating the three main sources of influence across the customer path?
The three (3) influences can be used in integrating the zones that will benefit from one another. “Owned” linked to “Other” zone will drive page view that will boost search engine rankings in your owned website, owned FB page that is maximized using boost ads can drive engagement and conversion. “Other” zone like blogs, paid email in return can create additional awareness to support your “owned” zone like website FB page, Twitter, Instagam by having a link from the blogs. Blogs normally are the basis for product reviews and it is a great help to leverage on this, the links going to the “owned” will greatly benefit since “owned” are avenues to showcase your brand. However, the greatest favour is by designing owned zone to guide “outer” zone and by setting a good story board, pictures or example to the public through “owned” YouTube channel. This may increase vblogs which could come from the “outer” zone. In addition to that integrating you tube links to emails when customers’ requests for quotes will increase awareness and page views, this videos can set expectations and could entice them to create their own version. Zone integration and better customer path analysis will drive more leads and value to the company. All zones complement each other, and it is crucial to have all three.