It is not just about the visibility anymore. It is about the commitment. In the Internet age, being noticed is not enough. It is necessary to create additional value that can draw the attention of the buyers but also, above all, establish loyalty. One way that companies opt for is setting up a community is within their brand. While the issue reflects on all spectrums of commerce, this article will focus on e-businesses in the travel industry.
There are various ways to approach the subject of the brand community. Many professionals associate it with the attachment. Generally speaking, it is a group of loyal customers and fans of the company, who communicate via Internet, preferably social media and forums, and are ready to advocate for it and recommend it to others.
To create it, businesses must allow users to have a personal experience with generated content, but also the ability to communicate with other customers and professionals regarding the functioning of the brand. The company must also listen to their comments and answer their need. Another important subject is building a public of people who share the same believes and interests, and giving them a platform to share them with each other.
One way to do it is by simply creating a platform for them to connect with each other on your website or the company’s blog. Another is building a subscription model. Paying for the subscription is a bigger commitment to the users, but it helps in building a stronger connection with the brand.
Increasing the number of interactions
While a product or a service is a value on its own, being a part of a community is an added value, that can significantly increase the number of the interactions within the community itself but also on other platforms, especially social media. That gives the company a substantial amount of exposure.
There are many ways to boost intercommunication. A prime example is the Travellerspoint, a company that calls itself a Òtravel communityÓ. It gives travellers a forum for sharing their experiences, stories and plans, discuss them with others, and get useful tips regarding their future journeys. Similarly Like a Local Guide connects travellers with locals, who can give them insider tips and even offer tours, to enrich their experiences. Both sides can feel like a part of a society sharing the same passion.
Establishing customer loyalty
Nothing should be more important to the brand, than customer loyalty. Those who continue to buy its products or services and are satisfied with them, become the ambassadors, who often convince their relatives and friends to join also become customers and assure a credibility for the company.
By increasing the number of interactions, brand communities strengthen that loyalty. Creating social platforms for customers to interact with one another, publish their opinions or ask for advice, increases the authenticity of the brand, and therefore the commitment of those who choose it. And commitment builds loyalty.
The more people engage with your company or within it, the stronger is their emotional bond towards it. Today, more marketers realise, that building emotional connections and making buyers feel like a part of a family is the best way to gain their trust, and the bigger the trust, the higher the probability of them coming back the next time they need a product or service we offer.
In the online travel industry, a great example of a brand with many loyal customers is the Airbnb. Created in 2008 and advertising as aÊ community marketplace, it skyrocketed and is currently one of the most popular booking platforms in the World. It is a platform for owners to list their properties, and for travellers to read the reviews, choose accommodations, interact and exchange opinions. It connects both sides of the agreement in a friendly, yet professional manner. That is what gave the company so much popularity, and that is why its customers keep coming back.
Improving the customer experience
Overall, the communities significantly improve the customer experience. Giving the buyers a voice and allowing them to exchange their opinions is crucial for the company to improve. A travel business that uses that to its own advantage is the TripAdvisor. Primarily a hotel review website it grew into being the largest travel-related platform of its kind. It allows its members to leave their opinions and tips regarding hotels, restaurants, sites, and much more, for other users to see. It is the perfect tool for the travellers to get all the information necessary, and most importantly, seek reliable opinions that could significantly improve their stay.
Ultimately, that is the goal. Making the customers feel as satisfied as possible, so they can decide, that the company is worth recommending. Ensuring, that they receive an added value, and feel like the brand is answering their needs, like a part of something bigger.
Promoting values of the company
Lastly, by building a community around or within a brand, the company can promote its own values, that the members can resonate with. Such approach shifts the focus from selling a product to delivering a message. Of course, those values differ, although the general idea is clear. Showing a humane side of the company, attracting more customers by touching their consciences, promoting an idea and often starting a movement. In the travel industry, an example of a company focused on that is Bidroom.com. The booking platform and a community of travellers claim, that its goal is to spread the message of bringing the fairness back to the hospitality industry. It spread such an idea ending the rate parity and brand hijacking in the industry, as well as promotes its commission-free approach to the OTAs market.
Building brand communities is growing in popularity, and surely companies based on such idea have a bright future ahead of them, as customers need more credibility and emotion in their purchasing processes. If used wisely, it can be a growth catalyst for many various enterprises, especially in the travel industry, where the buyers are more than often passionate about the products and services they use. It is an interesting trend worth observing, as it may become a must for businesses, especially those set online.
About the author
Brought up in Poland, KlaudiaÊFere_czuk is a journalist and a blogger, with articles published in Business Hotel, MamStartup and more, as well as over 150 blog posts related to the hospitality industry and travel on her account. She focuses mostly on the travel market, with special regard to the Online Travel Agencies.