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Jeremy Harvey
Jeremy Harvey 22 January 2020
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How Much Is Too Much? The Fatal Flaw of Over-Disruption in The Travel Sector

Over-disruption is an unwanted by-product of change. It happens when too many players enter the market. Lots of choice is great for consumers, but too much choice is terrible for brands. Many sectors are suffering from this, but perhaps none more so than the travel sector.

Brands that fail to stand out fall first in over-disrupted and cluttered markets. It’s vital to avoid becoming merely a commodity and making unique brand values very clear to consumers.

If a travel brand isn’t presenting itself with the right message, at the right time, in the right place, it will get lost in the noise and be overlooked – in favour of the ever-increasing number of competitors who are able to make their individual value clear.

To stand out in this landscape travel brands need to strike the right balance between innovation and disruption in order to connect with consumers.

The phenomenon of too much choice

Described by Accenture as ‘Big Bang Disruption’, the decreasing costs and times associated with innovation are both increasing the rate of change and empowering more start-ups to get involved, increasing product quality whilst lowering costs.                                                         

This provides an exciting proposition for consumers, enjoying these new streamlined products and services, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to build brand equity and loyalty. Established brands are struggling to keep up and new entrants in traditional markets are disappearing as quickly as they arrive.

It’s become apparent that younger consumers are putting less value on brands now, more than any time in the last 50 years. The over-disruption in the travel sector is reshaping the business landscape and absorbing capital with no promise of longevity for any of the players involved.

Standing out in an age of increased saturation and competition

Travel brands need a distinct and compelling value proposition that differentiates them from competitors. With the advent of pure play digital travel players, the diversity of providers and multitude of direct routes available to travellers mean only those brands that meet the very specific needs of their customers and present their brand in a way that resonates deeply with their intended target audience are thriving.

In the current climate, travel brands must work harder than ever, with the disrupted-by-digital landscape now having to contend with Brexit worries increasing daily. The chaos hit Thomas Cook recently, as it announced its losses mounted to £1.5bn in the first quarter of 2019. Cutbacks were made as the company slashed its TV spend by 74%

However, in order to keep up with the changing sector, Thomas Cook thought about how they could innovatively target the right audience, through the right channel at the right time, following their change in approach to TV spend. The brand also combined their senior marketing and comms roles in a push to deliver a consistent and co-ordinated approach to the promotion of the travel brand across all its markets. It’s important for even the top travel companies to make the appropriate changes in order to keep fresh and stand out from their competitors.

Focus on the customer

If travel brands are to have a vibrant future, they need to become more customer-centric, putting consumers at the heart of their strategic vision. Only by increasing their relevancy, becoming more agile and providing more accessible, diverse and experience led approaches, will they drive advocacy and create longer term, higher value customer relationships.

Simply ‘standing out from the crowd’ is no mean feat for travel brands. Consumers are accessing travel content and booking holidays in more ways than ever before. EasyJet has just announced the launch of its Look&Book image search app on Android, having seen customers match almost 30,000 photos to destinations since it launched on Apple devices last October.

Recent research found 34% of people have booked a holiday because of the content they’ve seen on social media. This is the perfect opportunity for brands to capitalise on. Increasing social activity is a gold mine for travel brands – if they get it right.

Identify your unique value

With intermediary comparison sites being able to instantly provide all the information consumers crave, making it easier for them to make decisions, other travel brands need to step up by making customer journeys easier. 

Brands that are struggling need to better identify their own unique individual value. Modern travellers expect offers that are simple and straightforward to access. By employing a planning model, a brand can better understand the climate in which it operates, its competitive set, the wants and needs of its customers and ultimately build a brand and service proposition that is both compelling, single minded and differentiated.

To keep relevant, brands need to strike whilst the iron is hot, yet avoid innovating so much that consumers are confused regarding what their message is. Get the balance between innovation and disruption spot on, and your travel brand will go places.

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