Personalisation in the travel sector, traditionally reliant on fixed customer personas (e.g., Persona A has a preference for trips to destination X), is becoming obsolete.
Nowadays, the trend is towards comprehending unique customer journeys to anticipate their travel choices. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is aiding this transformation within the travel sector by understanding the intentions derived from these distinct journeys.
In the last five years, there has been a colossal increase in global data.
However, companies fail to utilise approximately 80% of this data for their decision-making processes.
The remarkable rise in smartphone application usage is significantly contributing to this data explosion. Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, have always experienced a world filled with computers and phones.
As they become part of the travel consumer base, travel companies are feeling the pressure to adapt to changing technology preferences to stay relevant.
This shift leads to a pertinent question amongst travel company executives: What are the crucial components required to reimagine personalisation within travel?
Unique Customer Journeys for Unique Customers
Source: thinkwithgoogle.com Customer engagement in the travel industry has become increasingly fragmented due to a surge in communication channels. Now, customers are employing a mixture of conventional channels (emails, websites, and call centres) and modern channels (smartphones, chatbots, and social media).
The conventional customer journey, which typically follows a linear path from inspiration to shopping, booking, travelling, and post-travel, is no longer straightforward. Nowadays, customers fluctuate between these stages, leapfrogging and revisiting based on the information they encounter.
For instance, a customer highly interested in a Paris weekend package offered by a leading airline might abruptly abandon this plan due to a negative review and instead opt for a similar package from a travel agency.
Another scenario could involve a customer who enjoys thorough trip research being discouraged by incessant emails failing to provide the information she seeks.
Google’s analysis of its clickstream data suggests that every customer journey is unique, with the shape of the marketing funnel dynamically changing in line with customer intent.
This evolution indicates that travel firms can no longer confine customers within the traditional marketing funnel, instead needing to focus on their unique intentions.
The distinctiveness of each customer’s journey means travel companies can no longer afford to generalise B2C personalisation using a limited set of static personas. Every customer makes decisions in their own way, and as such, travel companies’ responses should take into account each customer’s unique journey.
Timely-relevance: A New Norm Redefining Travel Experiences
For many years, travel companies relied primarily on creative email campaigns to distinguish themselves from competitors. However, with the proliferation of travel-related blogs, websites, and videos, emails have lost their previous persuasive power.
So what does inspire now? Today, sources offering instant gratification, such as striking #nofilter photos on Instagram, National Geographic’s daily Snapchat stories, or a backpacker’s GoPro video on YouTube, are the ones providing inspiration.
Moreover, the nature of travel experiences has changed. Travellers now desire information that is both relevant and timely—timely relevance is the new black.
According to Booking.com, travellers are more interested in real-time luggage tracking than many other advances in travel technology. One-third of the surveyed travellers would appreciate someone or something doing the work for them and making travel recommendations.
Over half are enthusiastic about travel innovations such as digital tour guides. These findings explain the recent popularity of ready-to-use itineraries from companies like TripIt.