By Stefan Hull, insight director at Propellernet
So, it’s time to bid farewell to “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it” and stride into the future with sunshine in our hearts and “Let’s go!” ringing in our ears.
There are more than enough branding experts to continue the discussions about whether this is or isn’t a good thing; I’m far more interested in how Thomas Cook has articulated its brand unification via customer touchpoints.
Because I couldn’t help but be struck by how similar these touchpoints are to those articulated by Google’s Five Stages of Travel, which details how people move from dreaming about holidays to sharing their experiences with others.
Google’s five stages - dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing, sharing - represented a simple way of thinking about how people engage with travel brands and became, for people like me at least, a useful way of thinking about how best to align marketing strategies and tactics to the wants and needs of real people.
Instead of talking about search marketing and social media it gave us a way to talk about making life better for consumers via smart marketing and in a way that brands could monetise.
Unfortunately, far too few marketers seem to have taken it to heart (pun intended) and I continue to hear too many conversations about marketing channels and too few about starting with the journeys that people make and then deciding what marketing needs to happen and where/when.
I’m hoping Thomas Cook’s articulation of eight customer touchpoints (rather than Google’s five stages) will get more people interested in customer (rather than product) marketing again. And how different marketing tactics can influence the customer experience throughout an experiential cycle.
I’m not sure whether Thomas Cook started with Google’s five stages but, in many ways, that’s missing the point.
If it’s front of mind when people dream; if it provides genuinely useful content that helps people plan and makes booking transparent (while leveraging its brand heritage); if that’s matched to the customer experience from departure to returning home in such a way that its customers become customer advocates; if it achieves these things it will be a strong position to be successful now and in the future.
And for those brands that can’t afford an all-singing, all-dancing rebrand, well, they could do worse than think about marketing via a similar set of touchpoints. Perhaps just changing the heart for a bullseye.
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