Travel customer journey: Making data-driven decisions

Travel customer journey: Making data-driven decisions

Customer Journey Making Data-Driven Decisions

The travel industry is changing. Nowadays, perfecting the customer journey means taking a data-driven approach instead of a service-driven view, and gathering valuable information on customers’ behaviors and preferences to inform decision-making.

travel customer journey

With so much data at our fingertips, travel businesses are expected to craft seamless, personalized experiences for each customer, so don’t fall behind. You need to know how to gather, analyze, and utilize this data at every step of the travel customer journey.

Making use of data at every customer touchpoint enables you to personalize services, optimize operations, and improve overall customer satisfaction. Let's take a look at what a typical customer journey consists of and how you can use data to enhance each stage.

What is a travel customer journey?

The travel customer journey is the entire experience a traveler goes through, from the moment they first think about taking a trip to when they return home with new, unforgettable memories. It covers all the emotions, decisions, and activities involved in their travel.

The idea of a customer journey views traveling as a continuous process that starts with inspiration and doesn't just end when the trip does, but continues as travelers share their stories, possibly inspiring others on their own journeys. Thinking of a trip in stages like this offers a useful way of reviewing and enhancing the overall experience.

Why it’s important to understand the customer journey

Understanding the travel customer journey and hotel guest journey is crucial because it provides valuable insights into travelers' preferences and behaviors. Mapping out the stages a traveler goes through can provide your business with a deeper understanding of their needs and expectations — and that enables you to tailor your products and services accordingly.

This, in return, ultimately enhances customer satisfaction — when you know how to appeal to your customers at every single moment they interact with your business, you can guarantee their satisfaction with your services and encourage them to come back for more.

Analyzing the customer journey can also help you identify pain points and areas for improvement, increasing your competitiveness in the travel industry.

Travel customer journey stages


In the inspiration stage, potential travelers find themselves consuming travel content from their social media feeds, magazines, travel documentaries, and other sources, and then deciding that they want to travel themselves. Recommendations from trusted friends, influential figures, and seasoned travelers also go a long way in sparking that initial idea.

As a travel company, your goal during this crucial stage is to help travelers visualize their future journey with the help of beautiful images and destination videos, showcasing all of the great aspects that lie ahead. How well you showcase the offer is often a deciding factor in whether they move to the next travel stage or not.

Travel customer journey stages

Consider tailoring your content to travelers' preferences based on their past interactions and interests. Implementing algorithms that analyze travel data and past bookings can help with suggesting destinations and activities that resonate with each customer's unique tastes.

SEO optimization for your travel portal will also be extremely helpful — the higher you can get your travel offer in search results, the more users will find it and interact with your business. And one more thing — utilizing the full potential of social media is absolutely necessary for getting noticed today. Think of how much attention you can get from younger travelers with one well-timed TikTok video, or an Instagram post that hooks onto a current trend.

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The planning stage is the moment travelers transition from inspiration to concrete decision-making regarding their future journey. This is when they try to find as much relevant travel information as they can and explore their options, from flights to accommodation, considering costs, comfort, and other logistics.

During this research phase, travelers often turn to tourism operators, their local destination marketing organization, and trusted websites as information sources. They’ll often rely heavily on travel guides, online reviews from review sites, and direct contact with travel agents who can create a well-organized itinerary.


Introducing a user-friendly interface to your website and developing an intuitive mobile travel app will allow potential customers to effortlessly research, compare, and organize their itineraries in one centralized platform, streamlining their whole experience.

At the same time, integrating real-time updates on travel advisories, weather forecasts, and local events will empower travelers to make informed decisions and adapt their plans accordingly.

Offering personalized recommendations and expert guidance through chatbots or dedicated travel advisors can also resolve any uncertainties and enhance customers' confidence.


The booking phase is all about the definitive moment when travelers commit to a specific choice and book their trip with the help of booking platforms, hotel websites, and online travel agencies. The booking process is generally a meticulous task, so travel companies should prioritize transparency and flexibility in their process.

One way to do that is to implement convenient booking flows and advanced search filters to help customers navigate the process with ease. Introducing multiple payment options with secure encryption protocols will also help.


Finally, incorporating loyalty rewards programs or exclusive perks for repeat bookings can incentivize customer retention, encourage repeat business, and foster long-term relationships.


This is the post-purchase stage, when final travel arrangements are made. Travelers pack their bags and check their travel documentation to prepare for the journey ahead. But even for the most organized travelers, this stage can be stressful and create some anxiety.

During the pre-trip stage, a travel company can significantly enhance the customer journey by providing comprehensive and tailored pre-departure resources. Think of a user-friendly platform or app where travelers can access all necessary information in one place, from destination guides and weather forecasts to packing lists and visa requirements.

pre-trip stage

Offering help through chatbots or dedicated customer service agents can address any queries or concerns, ensuring peace of mind for customers. Providing timely updates on travel advisories, safety protocols, and health guidelines also demonstrates your company's commitment to prioritizing the well-being of its travelers.


The in-trip stage is the travel experience itself, which makes it the most important phase of the journey. During this stage, leisure travelers arrive at their destination, visit local tourist attractions, and enjoy various amenities and services.

To enhance this part of the customer journey, you can implement various tech solutions. With mobile apps or in-room tablets travelers can access lots of useful information ranging from restaurant recommendations to real-time translations of local languages, facilitating effortless communication with locals.

in-trip stage is the travel experience

When it comes to non-tech solutions, simply encouraging staff to engage in meaningful interactions, share local insights, and anticipate guest needs can also transform a simple stay into an unforgettable experience.


The post-trip stage is the conclusion of the trip, when travelers return back home and reflect on their experiences. This is a prime opportunity for you to make sure that your business is remembered fondly, and comes up in customers’ memories as soon as they decide to travel again.

Offering exclusive deals and personalized promotions for future bookings can be particularly effective to enhance the post-trip experience and boost customer loyalty. These tailored offers not only inspire travelers to plan their next journey but also deepen their connection with your brand.

Post-trip travel experience

The post-trip stage is also a good opportunity for you to collect feedback to improve your services. Travelers like to be heard, and if they see that their feedback actually has an impact, they’ll get a strong positive impression of your business.

Try and foster a sense of community among past travelers — something even more important now, in the post-COVID era. Creating dedicated online forums or social media groups to find insights, exchange positive and negative reviews, and share customers' experiences creates a supportive and inspiring network of travelers, encouraging them to book their next vacation and try out new routes, destinations, and accommodation.

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What is a travel customer journey map?

A travel customer journey map is a framework used by businesses in the travel industry to understand the entire experience of their customers, from the initial idea of traveling to the end of their trip. It is a visual representation that outlines the various stages a traveler goes through and their interactions with the travel provider at each stage.

This map typically includes all of the stages we have mentioned and highlights touchpoints where travelers interact with a business, like websites, social media, customer service, booking platforms, and physical locations like airports or hotels.

The purpose of a travel customer journey map is to help tourism businesses understand the needs, preferences, and emotions of travelers at each separate stage. By identifying these aspects, you can pinpoint opportunities for improvement in the customer experience.

Benefits of customer journey mapping

Enhanced customer experience

Customer journey mapping helps you to delve deep into the experiences and challenges customers face while interacting with your services. Analyzing each step allows you to pinpoint specific difficulties customers encounter, like confusing navigation on a website or lengthy wait times for service.

Addressing these issues not only smoothes out the customer's experience but also enhances overall satisfaction. Happy customers are more likely to develop a lasting loyalty to your brand.

Personalized marketing

Customer journey mapping provides invaluable insights into the behaviors and preferences of your customers at various stages of their interaction with your brand. This allows you to craft marketing messages that will truly resonate at critical decision points.

For example, if a customer feels unsure during the booking stage, you can provide timely and relevant offers or reassurances to encourage a purchase decision. This not only increases the chances of conversions but also enhances the overall customer engagement.

Improved services

Customer journey mapping can uncover rich data about how travelers interact with your offerings and what their preferences might be at different stages, which is crucial for developing new products or refining existing services that more closely align with customer expectations.

This can enable you to offer superior value that attracts new audiences while retaining existing customers, ultimately expanding your reach in the tourism industry.

Optimized sales funnel

Customer journey mapping provides you with a blueprint for refining your sales process. By identifying where potential customers lose interest or have difficulties, you can make targeted improvements that simplify and enhance the process for them.

Removing tiresome checkout procedures or unclear product information can dramatically improve the user experience, increasing the number of complete sales. This not only boosts your efficiency but also contributes significantly to overall revenue growth.

Better allocation of resources

Customer journey mapping enables you to see more clearly which aspects of your operations impact customer satisfaction the most. Whether it is human capital, financial investment, or time, you can allocate resources to areas with the greatest return in terms of customer experience and satisfaction.

Effective resource allocation is crucial for maximizing your operational efficiencies and improving profitability.

Increased customer retention

Providing a seamless and tailored experience across all touchpoints of the customer journey fosters strong and positive relationships with your brand. When customers feel understood and valued from the very first interaction, they are more likely to become repeat buyers.

Increased customer loyalty not only secures a stable revenue stream through repeat bookings but also enhances your reputation, which is invaluable in attracting new customers.

Competitive advantage

Understanding and managing the customer journey maps can distinguish you from your competitors. When you offer uniquely appealing experiences and innovations that resonate with travelers, you set your brand apart.

This can attract a larger customer base, helping you to increase your target market share and establish a strong presence in the travel and tourism industry. All of this is critical for any tourism organization to enjoy long-term success and sustainability.

Streamlined internal processes

By understanding the customer journey, you can boost productivity and promote better collaboration between departments within your travel company.

When marketing, sales, customer service, and IT teams understand their roles in the customer's journey, they can work more effectively to create a unified and efficient experience. This synergy not only improves service delivery but also boosts employee morale.

When each team can see how their daily work fits into the bigger picture, you’ll foster a more proactive and collaborative environment and encourage innovation, with teams more likely to share insights and ideas when they can see the impact on customers.

Improved crisis management

With a detailed journey map, you can better anticipate potential issues in services and implement more effective crisis management strategies. This readiness can minimize negative impacts on the guest experience during unexpected events.

Quicker adjustments to operational plans ensure that travelers’ needs are addressed promptly, while timely communication with customers goes a long way in maintaining trust and satisfaction in unexpected circumstances.

How to map the travel customer journey

Define your customer personas

The first step in journey mapping is identifying your target audience and creating customer personas — simple profiles of your customer groups, categorized broadly by demographics, preferences, motivations, and behaviors related to travel.

This comprehensive understanding forms the foundation for crafting personalized experiences that resonate with your target audience.

Identify key stages

The next stage of journey mapping is defining the key stages of the travel journey, from initial inspiration and research to travel moments and post-trip reflection.

Don’t forget all of the micro moments of the travel experience itself, and the reflections after it. Each stage of the traveler journey presents unique opportunities for engagement and influence that you should note.

Identify touchpoints

After defining the key stages through journey mapping, it's time to identify the touchpoints for each stage, at which customers interact with your company.

These touchpoints can be physical, like a travel agency or airport, or digital, like your website or social media. Understanding where these interactions occur is crucial for optimizing a customer's experience.

Map out customer actions and emotions

For each touchpoint, map out the actions customers take and the emotions they might experience in the process. You want to understand what drives their decisions at each stage and how they feel during interactions with your brand or other touchpoints.

This journey mapping approach helps you tailor your offerings and communications to meet their needs and preferences.

Identify pain points and opportunities

The next step is to analyze the customer journey map to locate pain points — areas where customers may encounter difficulties or frustrations. This could include long wait times at airports, confusing booking processes, or unexpected travel disruptions.

As a travel provider, you should look for opportunities to enhance the traveler experience and provide value at each stage, like offering personalized recommendations or exclusive perks.

Prioritize improvements

Based on the insights gained from the customer journey mapping exercise, prioritize improvements and initiatives to address pain points and capitalize on opportunities.

This could involve optimizing digital channels, enhancing customer service delivery, streamlining booking processes, or investing in innovative technologies like augmented reality for exceptional experiences.

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Iterate and update

The customer journey map should be an up-to-date and dynamic tool that reflects current customer behaviors, tourism industry trends, and your business objectives.

Regularly review and update the journey map to ensure it remains relevant and effective in guiding your customer experience strategy. You should also gather regular feedback from customers to continuously refine and optimize their journey.

What software should I use to optimize a guest's journey?


CRM software is designed to manage interactions with current and potential customers, so it plays a crucial role in improving the customer journey.

With features for tracking customer interactions, storing customer data, and analyzing customer behavior, CRMs prove valuable in understanding the customer journey, since they provide insights into touchpoints across various channels. This type of software is specifically tailored to handle interactions with both current and potential customers.

CRM software for travel

CRM also allows you to deliver personalized experiences to customers based on individual data, making it an indispensable tool for enhancing customer engagement and retention strategies.

Marketing automation software

Tourism marketing automation software helps travel businesses automate repetitive tasks and workflows, so you can focus more on strategic decision-making than mundane activities.

This software can also include features for email marketing, lead management, and campaign tracking, making it a great tool for pre- and post-trip interactions. It can be used to track customer interactions and engagement at different stages of the customer journey, giving you precise data on how customers respond to different marketing strategies and touchpoints, ensuring that you always deliver the right message at the right time.

Analytics and reporting software

Analytics and reporting software provides tools for analyzing data and generating insights into customer behavior, which is invaluable for locating pain points and understanding and interpreting other aspects of a traveler's journey.

Analytics and reporting software for travel

These tools offer insights that extend beyond basic interactions, enabling you to see how customers engage with the brand from initial contact through various phases of the customer lifecycle. This helps you to optimize interactions and refine strategies accordingly.

Customer experience management software

CX management software focuses on managing and improving the overall customer experience, making it great for every stage of the journey. It includes tools for gathering customer feedback, measuring customer satisfaction, and identifying areas for improvement, especially when it comes to interacting with your website or mobile app.

These interactions are often the first and most frequent touchpoints for customers, making their optimization crucial for a positive customer experience.

Customer experience management software

CX management software helps in measuring customer satisfaction through various metrics and indicators, helping you understand how well your business meets or exceeds their expectations. By integrating feedback, satisfaction metrics, and interaction analysis, it not only helps in identifying and resolving pain points but also highlights opportunities to innovate and improve.

Customer journey mapping tools

Journey mapping tools are specifically designed to visualize and analyze the customer journey. They allow you to create visual representations of the customer journey, identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, and collaborate with team members to optimize the customer experience.

Journey mapping tools provide a platform for teams to come together, discuss, and strategize on how best to enhance each step of the customer journey, ensuring that every touchpoint delivers a seamless and satisfying customer experience.

Through comprehensive analysis and team engagement, journey mapping tools play a crucial role in developing a deeper understanding of the customer journey and the ways to improve it.

Multi-channel marketing platforms

Multi-channel marketing platforms enable you to engage with customers across various channels, like email, social media, and mobile. Platforms like these often include features for tracking customer interactions across different marketing channels and personalizing the customer experience based on individual preferences and behaviors.

This tracking is essential for understanding how customers move through different stages of their journey and how they respond to your digital marketing strategy.


Recognizing traveler preferences and finding ways to satisfy customers is especially important for travel businesses hoping to stand out in today’s competitive travel and tourism industry.

By looking at travel customer journeys, we can see that a customer’s experience is often complex, involving multiple touchpoints, emotions, and interactions. Each step, from inspiration to post-trip reflection, provides opportunities to enhance overall satisfaction.

Taking a data-driven approach and looking at customer journey maps is crucial — they provide a clear understanding of how to achieve the balance of excitement, personalization, and a satisfying experience for travelers.

Alex loves travel and tech and founded Zoftify to help travel companies use technology more effectively. Before this, he worked in tech consulting, where he led international mobile development teams.

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