Aug 2, 2018, by Michael Erving
I touched on this last week, but I think it’s worth mentioning again: there’s unexpected things to do pretty much everywhere; from the expectedly unexpected (San Francisco’s Jerry Day) to the sleeper on the list (Sheboygan’s surf scene), there’s plenty of quirk to go around. But while that’s all well and good, what does it mean for the travel industry—and for that matter, anything to do with personalization as such a hot-button topic?
In short: everything. If personalization really is the key to the city of online travel (and at Utrip, we think it is), we have to keep reminding ourselves that personalization should permeate the entire traveler engagement experience (not to mention the travel lifecycle). For a truly personalized experience, there needs to be recommendations in every step of the process—not to mention different ways to interact with the experience itself.
Start at the Top
When we were designing our new UI (which—even though I’m clearly biased—you should totally check out if you haven’t), one thing that became clear in our testing phase was that users wanted to have recommendations for places to go.
And that totally makes sense! Just think about it: you’re looking for someplace new, but you have no idea where; you just know what you like to do. Suddenly, you’re presented with the ability to say what you like and have somewhere recommended to you, and it becomes a much more engaging relationship between traveler and interface. That engagement builds trust, gathers information, and makes better recommendations. And that means better travel experiences that better match each traveler’s preferences.
This top-of-funnel personalization is a great way to engage travelers (even armchair travelers) and get to know what they’re into (or at least see what sliders they move around). It’s also an empowering experience for the traveler to have something surfaced that’s actually what they want—and a great way to get them to continue to engage with the platform on a deeper level.
San Juan is well known for its historical and gastronomic clout—and it’s also a great spot for anyone looking for golf and outdoor adventures (like caving or bioluminescent kayaking).
Down to the Bottom
This has been our bread and butter for a long time, so I’ll keep this part brief. We try to find unique recommendable things and have them surface for the right kind of traveler. While our original way of surfacing these recommendations was in an itinerary format (which we still do), we also wanted to give travelers the option of something just as inspirational, but with less structure.
If you want to experience Paris' diversity first hand, Le Comptoir Général is a great way to see the interplay between French/North African cultures.
Voyages etc... Via Flickr CC BY 2.0
“Less” Personal Can Be More Personal
Speaking of less structure, it’s a good thing to remember that personalization doesn’t just mean individualized recommendations; it also means personalizing how users can interact with the experience. That’s what we wanted to accomplish with our wish list functionality. Not only is it a bit more conducive for destination discovery and research than our itinerary, it also provides a way for users to interact with the the platform without the rigidity of an itinerary. The wish list isn’t better than the itinerary (nor is the inverse true); it’s simply another way to engage—and the more ways to surface good recommendations, build that trust, and make for more authentic travel, the better.
It could just be me, but I feel like we tend to forget that personalization isn’t just a one-trick pony—but it’s so much more than that. It’s a path for meaningful top-of-funnel engagement and a destination discovery tool, and it should be more than just a way to surface meaningful recommendations. There should also be personalized ways to engage with recommendations. Personalization can’t just be a buzzword, and it’s something deeper than surfacing points of interest; it has to be a philosophy that permeates each part of the user experience and something that makes for travel (or whatever field it’s being leveraged in) feel meaningful and authentic to each individual.
While you could plan out your entire day in Miraflores, you could also just wing it.
Want to talk personalization and what it can do for you? Get in touch. We'd love to chat.