November 14, 2017, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
Data is having an increasingly strong impact on many industries, and travel is no exception. In fact, travel companies are among those that can benefit the most from accurate and thorough data. Right now, the growth of big data is converging with another major trend - personalization in the travel industry.
Travelers are looking for more personalized experiences. Savvy travel companies are now in a position to benefit from both of these trends and to use data to create greater personalization for their customers.
Why Travel Companies Need Quality Data
The travel industry is extremely broad. People of many ages, income brackets and interests travel for a wide variety of reasons. There are business travelers, backpackers, budget travelers, luxury travels, etc. More importantly, there are countless subcategories within each broader group. One of the biggest trends in the travel industry is consumers demanding more personalized travel experiences. This is particularly true of millennials, who are now the largest class of travelers ever. The question is, how can travel companies keep up with the many interests and demands of today's travelers? The simple answer is "data."
As technology and new business models quickly expand, customers' expectations grow. Today, people can access the latest travel possibilities by using a variety of apps and consulting hundreds of websites, from Airbnb to TripAdvisor. They can read reviews and book their next specialized travel experience, whether it's a bike tour of Amsterdam, a tour of a coffee plantation in Costa Rica or a trek in the Himalayas. In order to serve such demanding customers, you need access to the very latest data. This includes information regarding demographics, interests, income, purchasing behavior and internet browsing history. Because data accumulation is so vital, travel companies are increasingly partnering with those who can help them collect that data and leverage it as a means to provide their customers more highly-personalized experiences.
How Travel Companies Can Benefit from Data
Let's look at some of the possibilities for utilizing data to deliver better and more personalized travel experiences.
- Airlines - The increasingly competitive airline industry is one that can benefit greatly by collecting more accurate data on customers. One of the interesting aspects of data is that it often lets sophisticated analysts understand consumers even better than they understand themselves. That's why many airlines are now targeting customers with extremely precise offers based on their past and even up-to-the-minute behavior. For example, the Lufthansa Group has a program called SMILE that matches air travelers with services and amenities such as hotels, car rentals, luxury airport lounges and upgrades. Personalized choices for air travel are not new. In the pre-internet era, airline passengers could choose a window or aisle seat, a vegetarian or Kosher meal or even whether to sit in the smoking section. Today, however, the potential choices are much greater (with the exception of smoking, of course). People might choose, for example, to pay for more legroom, extra baggage or more specific dietary preferences. Airlines need data to offer passengers the most appropriate options.
- Hotels - Hotels are another travel business where greater knowledge of guests' preferences is a major boon. Many hotels are using apps and other technology to deliver more specialized amenities and services such as electronic check-ins, apps to order room service via text and luggage services that handle frequent travelers' baggage. In order to identify travelers who are good candidates for such apps, hotels and companies that book reservations need accurate data.
- Destination Marketing Organizations - The growth of experiential travel means that people are seeking tours, activities and experiences that closely match their interests. For example, rather than booking general tours, people are looking for photography tours, cooking or painting classes, or a host of other specialized activities. Destination marketing organizations can capitalize on this trend by making better use of data to learn about people's preferences. This way, rather than simply promoting a city or region in general terms, people's recommendations can be personalized, giving them a specific reason to visit the area.
The changes in the travel industry challenge airlines, hotels, tour operators and other travel companies to meet the specialized needs of their customers. Doing this in a timely and efficient manner requires the best possible data. That's why it's essential for businesses in the travel industry to do everything possible to leverage data so they can meet the demands of tomorrow's travelers.