Real Time Communications Featured Article

BELIEVE: How RTC Could Make Our Holiday Wishes Come True

December 22, 2014

My family moved this year. In the process, we got rid of a lot of stuff. So when it came to Christmas shopping this year, we decided to take a stripped down approach.

Instead of accumulating more physical things, my immediate family just began planning a trip to Europe, which we’ll consider as our collective Christmas present. And rather than running around buying and shipping a bunch of presents to Chicago this year, I did all the Christmas shopping for extended family through two websites for which there was free shipping, or at least free shipping when you spent a certain amount.

Before settling on these two websites, I did some due diligence, checking out products and shipping costs at a variety of retailers. Those other retailers might have gotten my business if they were proactive in greeting me when I arrived on their websites, asked what I was looking for, provided some suggestions, and possibly even offered me free or reduced shipping if I balked at their delivery costs.

This kind of personal attention is a lot to ask, I know, but if these retailers – many of which I’ve visited and patronized in the past either at their stores or via the web – used big data to figure out who I am, they would see that I’m only an occasional shopper, but when I do shop I tend to spend a few hundred dollars at once. Knowing I am a shopper who could represent a reasonably large transaction for them, it might make sense for these brands to reach out to me while I’m on their sites – or at least present me with the option to chat or speak with a brand representative in real time should I have questions.

In addition to the trip to Europe, my husband and I purchased some concert tickets for our daughter as a Christmas gift. I went online to a variety of local venues to see what was available. We prefer to see concerts in smaller settings, so the Ticketmaster website isn’t usually the best option for us.

I was able to find tickets to a Brett Dennen concert at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, and my husband closed the deal by making the purchase online. But it took me a long time to find a concert that I wanted to see and for which tickets were still available. And it took my husband even longer to make the transaction.

A better method would probably have been for me to use Bandsintown, songkick or some other app or website to find – or, better yet, be alerted of  a concert we might like to attend and for which good tickets are still available. An application that does all that, and offers easy, in-screen access to real-time communications with the venue or ticket agent would also be ideal in case, as so often happens when we try to buy things online, we run into a road block.

Speaking of buying tickets, we haven’t yet made our hotel or plane reservations for Europe. We are looking online and also have a stack of books from the library about Europe, and my husband and I have been paging through them trying to decide where to go, how to get their, and in what order. I believe there was something called a travel agency that existed in the olden days to help you with this kind of thing, but I’m approaching 50 and even I have never been in such an establishment. But I think it would be great if more of the airlines and travel websites were more proactive in providing advice on big trips like this, so people like me and my husband could check out their do-it-yourself content and offers, and then take it up a notch by communicating in real time with a Rick Steeves wannabe who could offer advice specific to our travel goals. Providing easy access to these types of communications could provide the kind of stickiness that so many businesses are looking to create.

That’s right Santa. I don’t want much. I’m eschewing material goods this year.

All I want is a trip to Europe.

And some sweet concert tickets.

Oh, and real-time interaction with some helpful elves.

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