Digital Strategy Example: Travel Insurance Industry
Example of using value elements and target groups to build a successful digital strategy in the travel insurance industry.
The travel- and insurance industry are both experiencing big shifts in consumer behavior and market structure. Companies selling travel insurance are affected by changes in both industries. Key trends in the travel industry include the demand for adventure travel and travel to remote and untouched locations, as well as fewer barriers to reach these destinations1. Millennial consumers are used to booking flights and hotels online, thus skipping traditional travel agencies. On the insurance side, more – especially standardized – contracts are sold online or via price comparison portals. Once again younger generations are driving this trend and teaching their parents. How can executives develop better insurance marketing strategies to take advantage of these new trends?
While these trends clearly threaten many established business models, there are also new opportunities. If traditional businesses don’t act, new players will move in to occupy the space. One example of a company that has successfully occupied the travel insurance market is World Nomads from Australia. Founded by travel enthusiast Simon Monk they managed to gain a remarkable dominance in the industry. All that with a staff of just 6 people2.
World nomads is a superb example of how companies with the right digital strategy can thrive and take advantage of these new opportunities. In this article we will use David Roger’s value proposition roadmap3 to systematically rethink customer value in the travel insurance industry from the point of view of an established player.
Customer Types and Value
The first step is to define our current customer types and the value they get from our product. A big insurance company will have a large number of customer types. For this example we’ll focus on the niches served by World Nomads.
|Backpackers and independent travellers||Travels for an extended range of time (months) in the course of a gap year or before starting a corporate job, travel as a way of self-realization, budget-conscience, but still concerned about security, insurance may be paid for by concerned parents, if in gap year, probably above-average income, fast traveler – only stays a few days to maximize places visited|
|Adventure traveller||Travels to remote places to experience unique outdoor destinations, plans and prepares for trip well in advance, takes a calculated risk by engaging in activities, like diving, hiking or climbing, probably above-average income and education, enthusiastic about chosen outdoor activity|
Having defined our target groups, we can move on to write down their value elements. Some of them may overlap.
|Target Group||Value Elements||Overall Value Proposition|
|Backpacker|| – Peace of mind in a new situation
- Point of contact in emergency situations
- Protection against smaller health issues (infections or traffic accidents)
|Peace of mind while experiencing new situations and places.|
|Adventure traveller|| – Coverage of major accidents during risky activities
- Evacuation from remote locations
- High coverage amount
- Buys via specialized travel agent
|Best available coverage for risky activities.|
Emerging Challenges and Opportunities
In the second step we will look at opportunities and challenges emerging in the industry. One source of these are new technologies. For travel insurance, the internet clearly plays a big role. Customers buy insurance online, discuss your product in forums and blogs, read reviews and expect to submit claims electronically.
Changing needs are another source of opportunity. Customers demand coverage of risky outdoor adventures and insurance sums high enough to cover bigger accidents and expatriation. They also want to buy online and manage their services themselves on an online platform.
While there are no good substitutes that directly threaten the market for travel insurance, there are new competitors – like Word Nomads – placing themselves between insurance companies and consumers as new intermediary. By commoditizing the insurance underwriter they will likely decrease their margins.
|New technologies|| Buy insurance online
|Changing customer needs|| High-risk activities
|New competitors||Online intermediaries|
Next let’s see how these changes affect our current value propositions.
|Peace of mind in a new situation||Still provided||Safe|
|Point of contact in emergency situations||Room for improvement||Challenged|
|Protection against smaller health issues||Provided||Safe|
|Coverage of major accidents during risky activities||Usually not covered||Challenged|
|Evacuation from remote locations||Also not covered||Challenged|
|High coverage amount||Made to work in accord with regular health insurance||Challenged|
Offer new Value Elements
With a good overview of existing and threatened value elements, we can move on to create and assess new value elements by looking at unmet consumer needs and possibilities offered by new technologies.
|Source||Possible new Value Elements|
|Consumer needs||Start covering risky outdoor activities|
|Higher coverage for major outdoor accidents|
|Expatriation from remote areas|
|Flexible buying options while on the road|
|New technologies||Market via blogs and social media|
|Self-service platform to extend or make claims online|
|Online support to help inexperienced travelers|
|Global call center for big and small emergencies|
|Mobile app for travelers on the road and without access to computer|
These new ideas together with existing value elements will give us a good idea of future priorities. One way to summarize them is by classifying them by core-, weakened-, disrupted- and new elements.
|Core elements||Weakened elements||Disrupted elements||New elements|
|Peace of mind||Point of contact in emergency situations||Buys via travel agencies||Self-service platform|
|Global call center for emergencies||Support in new situations||Cover risky activities|
|Coverage of smaller incidents||High coverage amount||Flexible buying options|
|Evacuation from remote locations||Market via blogs and social media|
|Online support for inexperienced travelers|
|Mobile app for travellers on the road|
As you can see, even a short analysis uncovers a range of possible value propositions in the travel insurance industry. Many of them are already offered by World Nomads with great success. The question is why established players are so slow to find their own, while allowing themselves to be intermediated away from consumers.