Harness data to drive intelligent traveler experience

The pandemic has given rise to a whole new paradigm of needs from travelers for a seamless journey. They live in the ‘now’ and expect a personalized travel experience from brands. For the travel and hospitality industry, this trend provides both a challenge as well as an opportunity to drive an ‘intelligent traveler experience.’ 

According to a recent survey by Skift, contactless and digital services are the new normal.  

 

  • 87% of US consumers want contactless services post-pandemic
  • 71% of travelers seek hotels with self-service technology 
  • 62% of guests prefer digital check-in/check-out vs. in person

As brands, it’s time to know these trends are here to stay. These trends underline the fact that while travelers expect a personalized experience, the opportunity to interact with travelers presents itself less often in person and more via digital channels. What this also means is, it’s going to be a huge challenge for brands to have one-on-one interactions with customers, especially when the need for personalized experience is on the rise. There is now an interesting dichotomy – customer expectations are changing more than ever for personalized interaction with brands whereas, on the contrary, the in-person, one-on-one interactions are decreasing. So, to bridge this gap, investing in a customer digital experience that increases loyalty will be imperative, whether inside or outside of a loyalty program. 

A loyalty program is a great way to deliver a personalized digital experience to customers. Although loyalty programs offer an excellent chance for brands to build an intimate one-on-one engagement with customers, they are only one piece of the puzzle. 

One big reason for this is that the customers who fall outside of the loyalty program encompass most of your interactions. Data consistently show that only a small segment of customers are a part of the loyalty program across the industries or any business. And according to Skift research, less than a third of customers are in a loyalty program, especially in the travel business. This means a large chunk of customers will be left out of the data sets that will exclusively focus on the loyalty goal. Engaging and interacting with these customers and building a channel of communication is a real challenge for brands, and this challenge will only grow more prominent in the future. 
A case in point is – all these stats and trends suggest we see the value of harnessing customer data to offer and drive the intelligent experience the new-age customers seek. 

The value of harnessing traveler data

With travel behaviors changing globally at the speed of thought, there’s a huge need for real-time data to anticipate their needs and intent. It’s no longer about knowing the customer; the real question is what this customer expects from the brand and how they can provide that experience. There is a massive opportunity in harnessing customer data in providing a personalized customer experience.

The answer to this precisely lies in the customer data. The pool of data within your Customer Data Platform (CDP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software will have the critical information that’s vital for customer engagement. 

Travel brands seem to have recognized this. These brands are committed to customer-centric initiatives and are keen to keep customer-centric metrics at the heart of their business, whether via Net Promoter Score or Customer Lifetime Value. However, when the organizations try to dig into the future drivers of these metrics, they realize that their data is a limiting factor in driving customer-led interactions. The same survey digs into two significant gaps in travel brands: 

 

  1. Knowing all of their customers and the ability to service all customers (not just their loyal customers) affects their potential to reach their guests that can bring revenue. 
  2. To harness the OTA and first-party data that helps to form a deeper engagement with their customers/loyalty guests and anticipate needs that can be transformational to a brand. 

These challenges reflect the need for brands to know their customers better. Organizations need to navigate from a historical or transactional view of their loyal guests to a deep, rich, and real-time understanding of how their guests are engaging with the brand. This would give a deeper insight into the customer and the ability to anticipate their needs much more accurately. All this again boils down to the ability to rethink how we define our data, gather data, make data always connected, define and collectively form a customer profile. If done right, your customer data platform can be a defining moment in the digital transformation journey. 

A well-structured data gives more power to the hands of those governing the business and more certainly funnels into the key campaigns and experience that responds well to customer needs in real-time. Although many organizations talk and aspire to have a 360° view of their customer, only a handful of brands get it right. The latest Gartner study reveals that only 14% of brands think they have got their customer 360°initiative done right. Whereas 78% of brands aspire or have the ambition to upgrade to a 360-customer profile in the future. 

Conclusion 

Traveler expectations are changing and it’s changing fast due to digital experiences. Today’s new-age travelers expect a great experience across all channels, making it easy to stay in touch with brands and receive personalized and engaging interactions. 

To sum it up, travel companies need to know their customers intimately and start by stitching together a complete end-to-end view of customers across their journey to meet today’s demands. 

 

  1. Understand overall customer lifetime value scores 
  2. Increase access with OTA and first-party data 
  3. Enhance customer profiles by building a technology stack that harnesses data
  4. Develop loyal customers with deeper engagement 

Read through how Tech4TH can help prepare your business for the latest strategies to provide intelligent customer engagement and increase sales.

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