How data and personalisation have delivered sell out tours for Intrepid Group

Travel and adventure group shares how data-driven and technology fuelled decision making has helped better personalise its approach

In today’s experience economy, Australian company, Intrepid Travel, has found data and personalisation have made all the difference. In fact, using data has been so successful, the group recently sold out a tour in 16 hours, the fastest in its 30-year history. 

Having expanded into the US and Europe, Intrepid Group global CRM manager, Angela Flynn, said the business is now broadening its offerings and growing its customer base.

Flynn, who has been with Intrepid for two-and-a-half years, said the business moved to Salesforce around the time she commenced her role to help with customer retention. Now, the technology is also assisting with more efficient marketing, growing into new markets, and communicating with customers.

“When I was brought in, it was a new role, and we were putting all our customer data into Salesforce, so it was a crucial time. Since that point in time we’ve been on that journey in terms of knowing more and learning more about our customers, so we can personalise their experiences,” Flynn told CMO at Dreamforce this week.

“We’re on that journey, and it is making a difference to our business. Personalisation is key in the travel world, because it's an emotional purchase and has high purchase value. The more personalised we can be pre-travel to make an experience as easy as possible, and the service experience right through to when consumers go on the trip, then recommend trips based on where they have already been, the better.” 

Flynn said having that data-driven approach helps to build the relationship, and therefore the experience, for that customer.

Data used includes how many times customers have travelled with the brand, and how and where they’ve travelled. Intrepid also looks at customers’ interests, communication preferences, and where they’ve been before.

Life stage marketing has also been invaluable to Intrepid. "Salesforce is providing us with better information to help our customers transition between brands and styles as their lives change,” Flynn continued. 

“For example, we just closed down the youth brand Geckos Adventures to instead launch a youth range under the Intrepid Travel brand for ages 18-29.

“This age group is socially conscious. While it is an experience economy now, they also travel for good, and like to give back to the local communities they visit, which is our ethos."

Giving back to the community is a big part of Intrepid's brand story. One way it achieves this is via the Intrepid Foundation, where travellers donate to projects they may have seen while travelling with the group.

"We also are sure to employ local people, there is no exploitation, like riding elephants, there’s no plastic on trips, that kind of thing," Flynn said. “From here, we might transition customers through life stages, from 18-29 years of age to having families, then we have our Peregrine brand for the older demographic. Empty nesters is a growing group for us, and they like travelling with like-minded people.”

Delivering sell-out tours

Despite being in operation for 30 years, and knowing its customers inside out, these new insights have helped Intrepid reach new heights.

“We recently launched an uncharted expedition – a mystery trip – and approached around 300 customers who had travelled with us previously. This sold out within 16 hours. In our 30-year history it’s the quickest ever to sell out," Flynn said.

“Having that data there and tapping into it really showed us how many customers we had that were crying out for something new and exciting.”

All the information customers got was the start and end date of the trip, and the fact that it commenced in Kazakhstan and finished in Mongolia. In 10 days, Intrepid had more than 1000 people apply for the trip and ended up adding extra tours, delivering three mystery trips in total.

“The wealth of that data was so exciting for us, and this is something we can look at building on. We can be innovative, but also customer-driven,” Flynn said. 

Intrepid also recently started using live chat for service, again through Salesforce. “This has been especially valuable in the US market, where they are taking the lead in digital and digital experiences. We haven’t yet moved into chat bots, but we’re on that roadmap. Moving into social media is also having a big impact, just being on those channels where our customers are," Flynn said. 

“We need to deliver on those customer experiences, so people become advocates for our brand, and end up recommending us to friends and family.” 

Flynn said the technology is now driving business efficiencies, as well as data security, metrics and automated processes.

“Obviously, customer data security extremely important. Also crucial for us is the use of languages. We’ve got 1800 staff, and we need to be able to talk to customers in their own language in whatever channel they use," she explained. "We use marketing cloud to communicate via email and via live chat. To be able to do that at scale so customers can talk on the phone, via live chat and email, is working really well for us. Before Salesforce, our email marketing was all in English.” 

Customers are getting communications in real time, which enhances their experience and is also used for marketing and measurement. Intrepid measures Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer effort score and customer satisfaction scores, at every touch point.

“We are able to gauge how easy it is to do business with us and how satisfied they are with doing business with us,” Flynn added.

“That data all sits in one place so we can see it against the customer, and we know where they are sitting in terms how happy they were with the experience. We are moving into the 2019 season, and tapping into areas customer are telling us they want to see more of.”

Check out more of CMO's case studies on how brands are tapping tech:

  • Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Dreamforce in San Francisco as a guest of Salesforce.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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