October 17, 2017, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
Digital transformation is happening at breakneck speeds, affecting all industries. The travel industry is certainly not exempt from these changes. On the contrary, tourists and business travelers are eagerly embracing the latest advances, such as convenient mobile travel apps and shared economy services like Airbnb.
Another crucial trend that's overtaking the travel industry is personalization. The "one size fits all" approach to travel services is outdated, and companies that cling to it risk falling behind. Let's look at some of the ways that personalization is transforming travel.
Technology is Rapidly Transforming the Travel Industry
As people are more attached to their devices, including smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, they demand more efficiency and convenience. Travelers now take it for granted that they can use mobile apps to check in at the airport and reserve rooms or rental cars. In order to meet these new demands, businesses can incorporate sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence, chatbots, augmented reality and virtual reality to improve marketing, customer service and customer experiences. When we examine how technology is transforming travel, we tend to focus on speed and efficiency. While these are certainly important, a related and equally important trend that travel companies must recognize is personalization.
Personalization in Travel
The traditional travel experience was mainly about people booking a trip and finding convenient, affordable airfare and lodging. This model, however, is changing. Today, people are increasingly seeking interesting and unique experiences when they travel. They're seeking experiences that match their particular interests. Examples include:
- Specialized tours and trips. Tour operators are realizing that they need to cater to a wide variety of tastes. One example of this is the idea of micro travel, where travelers focus on a particular neighborhood or interest. For example, rather than taking a generic tour of Paris, people sign up for a tour of literary, artistic or religious sites.
- Curated adventures and experiences. These are more focused than tours and give people the chance to live out lifelong dreams or check off items on their bucket lists. Airbnb, for example, not only offers travelers rooms but also a variety of curated experiences in cities throughout the world.
- Combining business and pleasure. Business travelers are now personalizing their trips by turning them into "bleisure" trips that incorporate fun into business trips.
How Technology Helps Travel Companies Deliver Personalized Travel Experiences
Travel companies that want to keep up with the personalization trend in travel can do this in a number of ways. Awareness, of course, is the first step. To actually provide consumers with the personalized travel experiences they crave, technology is often the key.
- Use big data to better understand customers. To give people the travel experiences they seek, you need to understand them. Big data helps you identify the preferences of your audience, down to their favorite destinations, interests, airlines, car rental companies and more. Data also helps you in the area of analytics. By testing your results, you can fine-tune your understanding of what your customers want.
- Send personalized notifications, emails and alerts. Today’s technology makes it simple to provide travelers with the most up-to-date information regarding flights, car rentals, tours, restaurant reservations, weather updates and other relevant factors.
- Offer targeted content across channels. People who travel frequently like to read informative articles, watch captivating videos and see inspirational photos of scenic spots. Travel companies who want to serve today's customers can deliver relevant content that recognizes the distinct interests of different types of travelers. With segmented email lists, multiple social media channels and personalized marketing, you can send people content that suits their interests.