We have seen significant progress in recent years when it comes to data-mining. Several brands are emerging that are able to ‘assist’ the traveler with information which could lead to improved conversion or upsold amenities.
For example, when using HotelTonight, a mobile only travel company mainly for distressed last-minute bookings, the app recognizes a query which hasn’t matured into a sale. It will then send a regular push alert when prices decrease for that original query. This feature is focused solely on the one original query, meaning it is targeted and helpful as opposed to unsolicited messaging which is often seen as spam.
This is just one example of how the much talked about trends towards personalization are being brought to life. Better personalization is also coming through greater ‘identity sharing’. For example, logging on via Facebook provides many more data points than a generic email logon.
A retailing approach is key to unlocking opportunity
The travel sector, like the retailing sector, needs to build ongoing trusted relationships with its customers. With the example detailed above, it is email that has been the golden ticket, allowing travel companies to profit from understanding travelers’ itineraries. This blunts the advantage for many Travel Management Companies (TMCs).
However, there is a downside in that the data travel companies can access is not always reliable. Unless they are monitoring emails or have some type of dialogue with the traveler, changes may well be missed or misinterpreted. Technology is such that applications, and soon even the messaging platforms such as Facebook and WeChat, are ‘always on’. This means that they will be able to pull the relevant content to the traveler – in the format they prefer.
This is already happening. Take, for example, Nice airport in France. The primary way to use the fast track lines for frequent travelers at the airport is via its app. Travelers looking for savings of 10% in store and at Duty Free use the app. And the one major benefit of apps versus browsers and currently messaging platforms, is its location awareness.
Currently for the traveler, this remains a fragmented experience with no way to bring together these different retailing environments. It becomes more difficult when considering other types of content outside of geolocation, such as restaurant reservations, parking assistance, tours, activities and tickets. The task remains in identifying a common protocol to unify the vast amount of in-destination content and services.
It is here that TMCs can play a major and valuable role in understanding what their travelers are doing – making intelligent records of it – and using it to their retail advantage. Just as online retailers will recognize you’ve finished a certain book and make suggestions of similar genres or titles, a TMC can harness the data they have, especially if they are also able to curate feedback and review.
Download our report, Better Business, Smarter Travel: Perspectives on the future of Managed Travel 3.0, for more insights like this.