As is the case in every aspect of life, the pandemic has manifested a new normal for the travel and tourism industry, as well. While the work-from-home model has accelerated the prominence of video conferencing, it has entirely displaced the price elastic business travel and its usually high demands. Additionally, the metaverse for business (it’s quite legit), although in its nascent stage, is the next big thing sustaining this displacement.
However, as the industry sets itself up for the post-pandemic recovery, there is an unleashed demand for leisure travel thanks to people like you and me. And to leverage this demand, supplier brands are racing to boost their funnels by targeting the right customers and personalizing the associated experiences. While there isn’t a method to the madness (yet), the industry is continuously evolving its strategies to explore and adopt the right solutions to establish powerful personalization models.
Beyond this, there is also a drastic shift towards profit recovery by driving higher margins. The industry is now optimizing attribute-based selling and monetizing beyond flights and hotel rooms by providing valuable ancillary services. Also, direct booking channels are equally playing a pivotal role in the path to profitability.
So, what’s going to transform travel?
The business is in its nature complicated to handle any aspect, manually. And so, no points for guessing, but smart technology is the unanimous answer to pretty much all the roadblocks. Seasoned industry experts are advocating for the following high-level strategies:
- Systems must identify and recognize their customers and build a comprehensive profile
- Attractive and personalized offers must be matched to independent customer journeys
- Integrate different channels to establish collaboration across the organization
In sync with this vision, AI-enabled Customer Data Platforms (CDP) strive to deliver an exceptional traveler experience that is rooted in trust.
CDP is a single central system of intelligence that consolidates the automation and data management capabilities of all disparate tools and systems. It integrates aspects of the end-to-end workflow to ingest consent-backed data and insights to unify the customer journey across every channel. This not only personalizes every interaction but also transitions to a consumer-centric setup from a channel-focused one.
Connecting these diverse aspects, data is then made available for consumption at every touchpoint, from campaigns to support. Unifying the customer journey enhances the offline to online conversational connect and makes the insights portable across the organization.
While there may be multiple customer journeys defined, acknowledging, and recognizing the pace and context of each of your customers is the foundation of a sustainable relationship. Beyond automation and personalization, every interaction should be backed by the personal journey of the customer. This moment-based experience will then undoubtedly pave the path for Loyalty that is built on the trust, acknowledgment, and recognition that you give to the customer.
Leveraging AI in each of the following aspects adds meaningful value to the traveler experience, in ways that will generate more demand, pave conversions, and thus increase Lifetime Value and retention.
- Plan: Personalized trip suggestions based on the customer journey and previous engagement with the touchpoints
- Explore: Curated itinerary for trip/destination of choice. Additionally, pricing trend predictions through meta-search options.
- Book/Manage: Individualized upselling and cross-selling opportunities by diving into partnerships. Here, AI is not only knowing customer preferences but also leveraging immersive experiences to aid purchase decisions.
- Ride to airport: Proactive ride-booking through integrated partnerships and visibility into traffic information.
- Contactless services: Using consent-backed personal information at various touchpoints to ensure contactless and self-service facilities through smart technology.
- Service recovery: Integrated flow of information throughout the end-to-end tech stack to enable proactive firefighting and foolproof backup solutions.
- Social reputation: Engaging with your customers outside of the touchpoints and solicit constructive feedback and amplify your presence.
- Gather data: Remember your customers and their journeys for future engagement and conversations.
Finally, with pressing issues like sustainability and privacy impacting customer choices, it is imperative to build awareness by providing as many transparent data elements as possible throughout the journey. Empowering travelers with the choice to co-create a mutually visioned outcome is yet another meaningful step to enhancing traveler experience.
Today suppliers have recognized the evolving customer expectations and the need for 3rd party technology solutions to drive sustainable customer relationships. And while AI is the sought-after technology, CDP goes beyond mere technology as an impact solution to drive the future of travel.