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Travel Intelligence: Redefining travel experiences with data for a new competitive advantage

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To win in the online travel space, agencies must show customers that they are valued and treat them personally. This all starts with the right data.

Matthew Webb, Data and Analytics Manager for Travelport OTA (online travel agencies) Customers explains how by understanding customers’ changing needs and building personalised offers and marketing plans, previous ‘return-on-trip’ measures of success will become a thing of the past. Instead, he says, we’ll be working towards a ‘return-on-customer’ model where we retain customers and win their loyalty over an entire lifetime of travel.

To win in the online travel space, agencies must show customers that they are valued and treat them personally. This all starts with the right data. With the right data capabilities, we can gather insights from across all six stages of the traveller lifecycle and deliver a relevant, personalised service that matches the individual's needs and desires, using data to shape your customer engagements and drive business growth. Here’s how.

1. Inspire your customers from their very first search
By analysing data like industry shopping trends, web data and customer buying histories, we can create offers that inspire customers from their very first search. We can also push personalised offers out to them at a time when they are most likely to book – typically around 80 days before they travel. Inspiring customers at the earliest possible time can help reduce overspending on Google Ads and other blanket advertising media. We can also understand when to deliver offers and make better ‘start-stop’ decisions for campaigns. And that means lower overall customer acquisition costs for your business. 

2. Deliver the best shopping experience with highly relevant offers
To enhance customers’ online shopping experiences, we need to treat our travellers personally and individually each time. Through in-depth persona analysis, relevant content applying to flights, hotels, cars and more can be displayed. As well as increasing conversion rates, this approach allows travellers to simply select their travel options from the right kind of suggestions you’ve provided them. This takes the friction out of the shopping process, saves them time, increases convenience and helps you win their loyalty.

3. Enhance the booking experience based on “best value”
By analysing industry data and using it to inform your pricing, you can create “best value” offers for customers, and in return, create trust and confidence. You can analyse historical price points to forecast and predict where pricing is going so your customers know whether they should wait, buy now or get a better recommendation. By becoming a trusted advisor to your customers, and saving them money, you can build strong, trust-based relationships that last a lifetime. 

4. Add even more value for travellers with pre-trip interactions.
Travelport research has found that travellers accepting just one marketing offer before they travel could generate half a billion dollars in revenue each month. This is equal to a $6 billion-dollar market that is not currently being fully exploited. To tap into the opportunity, create exciting pre-trip marketing campaigns that re-engage your customers with authentic relevance all the way up to their point of travel. 

5. Shape and improve travellers’ in-trip experiences
With the right data, strategy and partner, we can target travellers with personalised offers while they’re away. This means we can tap into travellers’ holiday spending budgets, which are now worth an average of $5,000+. Specifically, we should be recommending local activities, events and even restaurants that are appropriate based on their persona needs and preferences, enhancing their travel experiences and opening up new revenue streams, all the while collecting the usage data to better shape the next experience.

6. Build profitable customer relationships that last a lifetime
Streaming services like Netflix show us what we should be watching next; Amazon recommends what we should be buying; Spotify suggests what we could be listening to. They can do this because they use data to analyse our interests and can see what others like us are doing. Today, we can do the same with travel. Based on customer personas and travel intent while capturing what is and isn’t working, we can be armed with the intelligence to inspire, excite and engage our customers.

The key to delivering this vision is to engage with customers post-trip to understand their detailed feedback about their search, booking, pre-trip, and travel experiences. Based on this feedback, and a range of other insights, we can build a trusted customer profile that can help businesses stay relevant as personal situations and travel needs change.

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