Blog

Chris Travell

Director, North American Automotive Solutions

Chris is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and commenting on consumer trends in the automotive industry, especially as it relates to brand loyalty. Based on this information, innovative and effective client solutions are developed and implemented.

His MBA is from McMaster University, specializing in Marketing and International Business. He then received a graduate scholarship to attend the renowned Institute for International Studies and Training in Tokyo, Japan.

Attempting to combine his Japanese experience with his lifelong passion for the automotive industry, Chris started out his career working for Mazda and Toyota in various head office and field capacities. He joined JD Power & Associates in 1993 charged with establishing the Canadian office. In 1996 he went to Maritz where he was responsible for the Canadian automotive research consultancy.

In November 2015 he joined Bond Brand Loyalty which allowed him to develop effective brand loyalty programs based on the analysis and insight gleaned from over 25 years in the industry.

Chris is regularly quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and has appeared on CBC, CTV, Global Television, CBC Newsworld, and TVO commenting on issues related to the North American and global automotive industry.

He has spoken at several international gatherings including the Google ThinkAuto conference (3 times), the Financial Post conference (5 times), and the ESOMAR automotive conference in Wolfsburg, Germany.

He is the principal contributor to #autobond, Bond’s automotive blog.

He is intensely interested in WW1 history, especially as it relates to the 3rd battle of Ypres, close-up magic, The Return of the Prodigal Son in the Heritage Museum, and golden retrievers - but not necessarily in that order.

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Recent Posts

#autobond: Uber, Autonomous Vehicles, and Bumps in the Road Ahead

Posted by Chris Travell

Sep 16, 2016 11:59:07 AM

This is a historic week in Pittsburgh. Uber is launching its fleet of Ford Fusions in an autonomous driving pilot. It’s not a big pilot—only four of the vehicles are outfitted with the technology and two people will sit in the front taking notes ready to take over in case something goes wrong. But, this is one of the more public displays of how ride sharing is changing the landscape of the global automotive industry. 

Manufacturers are also jumping on board. Toyota and Uber inked a deal earlier in the year; VW invested $300 million in Gett Inc; GM put $500 million into Lyft and spent just over $1 billion to acquire Cruise Automation; and not to be left out, Apple invested $1 billion into the Chinese company Didi Chuxing. The market for on demand autonomous transportation is growing—and fast.

A few observations: Manufacturers need to go this way since the sharing economy is no longer just a pleasant notion—it’s happening in everything from automobiles to garden implements. As sales are leveling out, especially in developed markets, shareholders are pushing for greater returns and this certainly seems like a reasonable bet. More, there’s the potential of safer roads, at least in the long term. 

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Topics: #autobond

#autobond: Sure Product is Important But What Else?

Posted by Chris Travell

Jul 19, 2016 9:01:34 AM

I’m a big fan of Formula One—it amazes me that hundreds of sensors are gathering information on the cars' performance in real time, sending it back to Milton Keynes, Maranello, Brackley or wherever, making it possible for crews to make changes on the fly to gain that 2/10s of a second per lap. It's incredible when you think about it.

In the same way, there are numerous sensors in the marketplace that provide input into a brand’s make-up and health. In our context, the understanding and interpretation of information from these sensors allows marketers to build strong, relevant and differentiated brands. 

I had a chance to sit down with Kyle Davies, Director of Marketing Research at Bond, to talk about the recent release of the Automotive Brand Telemetry Report

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Topics: Brand Loyalty, Loyalty Marketing, #autobond

#autobond: Marketing Intangibles and Intangible Marketing—Lessons for the Automotive Industry

Posted by Chris Travell

May 26, 2016 3:22:13 PM

Back in 1981 the economist and Harvard professor Theodore Levitt published his landmark article in the HBR, “Marketing Intangible Products and Product Intangibles.” It’s a great read since his insights relate directly to many of the challenges marketers face today. 

When prospective customers can’t experience the product in advance, they are asked to buy what are essentially promises—promises of satisfaction. Even tangible, testable, feelable, smellable products are, before they’re bought, largely just promises.

Largely just promises. Doesn’t that just encapsulate the challenge marketers face?

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Topics: Customer Experience, #autobond

#autobond: The Importance of 2nd Delivery Nights

Posted by Chris Travell

May 13, 2016 9:08:49 AM

Picking up a new car is magical. The new car smell. The technology. The enhanced performance. Brands and dealers that place an increased emphasis on the delivery (and do it well) increase the chances of a higher rating on their CX surveys. And when you think about it, it makes sense. It’s the last impression a customer has before they drive home and share their experience–hopefully positive–that they had at the dealership.

However, the bloom is still on the rose when the customer picks up the car. Even though they were shown how to pair their phone, operate the NAVI, or use voice commands, it doesn’t always stick. And if it doesn't stick, the result could be lower CX scores both on the brand’s internal program and on syndicated studies like JD Power. The technology may work as planned but if the customer doesn’t know how to use it, they think something is wrong with the car and offer up a poor score.

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Topics: Customer Experience, #autobond

#autobond: Towards Tomorrow by Toyota—The Brand Gallery Concept

Posted by Chris Travell

Apr 20, 2016 12:08:44 PM

I’m a big fan of live brand experiences. They’re informative, different, and fun—and they give you a chance to see how bad you really are at driving a car in virtual reality.

I had a chance to sit down with Cyril Dimitris, Vice President of Toyota Canada, to discuss the Towards Tomorrow by Toyota brand gallery. This "pop-up" experience has brought Toyota direct to the consumer (specifically those hard to reach millennials), garnering valuable facetime and engagement outside the dealership environment. This is something many automotive brands are still struggling to do effectively. 

Initiatives like this one allow customers to be exposed to the brand when they might have dismissed it in a different setting. 

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Topics: Live Brand Experiences, #autobond

Westjet—You Were So Close!

Posted by Chris Travell

Apr 7, 2016 1:43:09 PM

 

Flew back from NADA in Las Vegas on Sunday on Westjet 1117 (in case you’re reading Westjet). For what should have been a routine flight, the experience turned into a considerable delay resulting in an arrival in YYZ about 12:30 a.m.

In a touch of serendipity, I sat next to Sham Ahluwalia, an executive with General Motors who has a ton of experience in the world of CX. As the afternoon and evening unfolded, we dissected and discussed the way the airline handled the situation. A great learning exercise.

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Topics: Customer Experience

#autobond: The Importance of the Front Line

Posted by Chris Travell

Mar 31, 2016 4:25:16 PM

I’ve been involved in measuring the customer experience (CX) for over 20 years. It’s critical to get the voice of the customer to understand where a brand, dealer, salesperson, service advisor etc is strong or weak so they can improve. I get that in spades. However, over that time one of the areas that has been noticeably absent from the public discourse on this stuff is measuring the employee CX on an ongoing basis. This is odd because these individuals are absolutely critical in delivering the brand experience. They’re on the frontline so wouldn’t we want to hear regularly what they have to say so we can continuously improve?

My observation has been that the employee survey is done about once a year. Tick that box.  

My call today is to incorporate measuring employee CX into your overall CX strategy. Yesmeasuring how the customer feels is criticalbut let’s start putting a little more emphasis on what our frontline people have to say, and doing it on an ongoing basis.

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Topics: Customer Experience, #autobond

#autobond: Fuel Efficiency, 2016 Forecast, and the Connected Car—In Conversation with Dennis DesRosiers

Posted by Chris Travell

Mar 23, 2016 11:47:59 AM

Dennis DesRosiers is the leading automotive analyst in the country. Even though he is often controversial, he never fails to provide insight and the proverbial "something to think about."

In this week’s #autobond, Dennis talks about fuel efficiency, his sales forecast for 2016 (and potential concerns), and the connected car and what it means to a small southwestern Ontario town.

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Topics: #autobond

#autobond: Jim Kenzie on Technology, Distracted Driving, and Electric Cars

Posted by Chris Travell

Mar 10, 2016 12:12:25 PM

Jim Kenzie has been one of Canada’s leading automotive journalists for the last quarter century, and currently serves as the Toronto Star Wheels' chief automotive reviewer. As an engineer and race driver, he has considerable experience and expertise when it comes to all things automotive. He's known for his strong views, which make him entertainingif not controversial. 

I had a chance to spend some time with Jim to get his thoughts on technology, distracted driving, and electric cars. Do you agree with him? 

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Topics: #autobond

#autobond: Differentiating Lexus in the Hyper-Competitive Luxury Market

Posted by Chris Travell

Mar 3, 2016 2:22:00 PM

At the recent Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto, I had a chance to talk to Jennifer Barron, the new Director of Lexus in Canada. Jennifer is a very interesting personwith Lexus since 1990, she has played an instrumental role in designing the brand’s customer experience. Now, things have come full circle and she’s running the place.

Jennifer talks about what differentiates Lexus in the crowded luxury market and what it will take to compete in 2016 and beyond.

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Topics: Customer Experience, #autobond