It was the theme, the buzzword, and perhaps the most over used term at the Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley – personalization. Nevertheless, it is one of the single most important things happening in travel.
There is great interest from travel providers to fully embrace personalization, as this door leads to loyalty and better margins. On the flip side, travelers are yet to truly see the value and, according to Skift research, travelers also have various privacy concerns on how their data will be used.
Throughout the event, much was discussed about how we’re going to bridge this gap. Personalization is a reality in other industries. So how will it work in travel? How can we work together as an industry and create a win-win for travelers and providers? Here are some key takeaways of the conversation around this.
At the heart of personalization in the travel industry is bringing relevant offers via the channels that travelers use every day. And it’s not only about what’s happening in the travel industry, but also in the wider context of travelers themselves. For example, the restaurants they go to when traveling. Being relevant is everything. This is the only way to engage people.
A lot was discussed at the event about what constitutes a relevant offer. Is it business vs. leisure or, what everyone called a very overused and cliché term, bleisure? What event speakers agreed is that context is everything. Depending on this context, companies – whether airline, hotel, restaurant, or any other in-destination service – the level of personalization per experience needs to be relevant. Sometimes it might not be worth the investment to deploy technology for the sake of technology. There has to be an added value.
From a pure technology perspective, one of the consistent comments from speakers was that relevancy also means simplicity and practicality. We should be clear about the problems we are solving, and many times those problems aren’t complex. Technology can create significant experiences to solve simple problems.
It was clear throughout many discussions that tech needs to keep up with the pace of this change. But it also needs to ensure stability and ease of use for all those who engage with it. Tech is the enabler to bring personalization. It should be invisible in the background. And there is so much innovation happening: around voice search to bringing your own devices to the next generation of mobile apps to chatbots.
One thing was clear to the nearly 400 attendees from over 200 different industries and 20 different countries. Personalization is more than just a buzzword – it is a reality. To this end, collaboration is key and trust is important when it comes to embracing adoption of the technology of the future.
This was a thought-provoking event and it was great to have the opportunity to discuss with Skift’s Sean O’Neill, as well as with industry leaders, some of the exciting times ahead in our industry. You can find out more about some of the topics I discussed on my panel here.