Article by HT Hospitality Technology 9/18/2018

Emerging technologies have created unprecedented opportunities for travel industry providers to offer seamless, context-relevant and personalized experiences. However, a new survey commissioned by Mindtree titled, “Expectations vs. Reality: How to Better Serve the Connected Traveler,” analyzed responses from over 2,000 U.S consumers and found that despite the advancements in digital experiences, many brands lack a holistic view of the customer and struggle to accurately personalize their offerings.

The survey found that the most common reasons why travelers don’t use offers that they receive are that they don’t arrive at the right time, expire before they can be used, don’t offer enough savings or don’t apply to their areas of interest. Most respondents (88 percent) indicate that they are more loyal to a brand that offers relevant deals. Almost half (47 percent) of respondents said they would be open to paying a premium of at least 17 percent for more contextual and relevant offers. Yet only 22 percent of respondents say travel providers always recognize them as a past customer.

The survey also revealed that leisure activities are an integral part of travel for 92 percent of respondents who do so for business. This opens up further opportunities for providers to introduce relevant leisure offers to encourage a richer experience as business travel presents increased opportunity for leisure activities.

Mindtree recommends travel providers take the following steps to deliver more personalized experiences:

  • Integrate data silos for a more accurate view of customers from multiple digital touch points
  • Build rich customer personas, powered by a strong customer 360 foundation, enabling customer recognition at every touchpoint
  • Create tailored customer offers by creating content, offers and recommendations using context-weighted personalization algorithms
  • Employ omnichannel strategies across channels including voice, mobile and web to target and deliver personalized information and services

The study, “Expectations vs. Reality: How to Better Serve the Connected Traveler,” was commissioned by Mindtree and conducted by independent market research firm Vanson Bourne in early 2018. It surveyed U.S. adult consumers who travel globally (using air transport, train, rental cars and/or hotel/vacation rentals) for business and/or leisure at least once a year, on average. An even spread of responses were collected across gender, age and geographical location.

Loyalty and Personalization are Linked

About nine in ten (88%) of respondents agree that they are more loyal to a travel provider that offers them more relevant offers/deals personalized for them. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents have had a bad experience with a travel provider. As a result, over a quarter (27%) never booked with the travel provider again. (74%) report that the travel provider tried to redeem themselves. A majority (85%) say that the attempts helped to restore their trust in the brand.

The Personalization Gap

Offers do not take preference into account: Of those who receive offers from travel providers, only 23% rate them as excellent, in terms of being based on the traveler’s specified preferences, leaving a lot of scope to grow. Timeliness: Of those who do not always use the offers that they receive, the most common reasons are that they don’t arrive at the right time (45% respondents say so), expire too soon or don’t offer enough saving (35% respondents say so).


Study Observations

The digital marketing efforts are not integrated across channels. This makes it impossible to pick up the clues of traveler preferences and needs, to serve them with those tempting offers in time.

The promise of personalization was to market to the “segment of one,” and it needs to take the traveler’s context and life stage into account. However, it has not delivered the delight that it was expected to offer, neither has it delivered the expected revenue uptick for the travel brands.

Personalization Offers Need Improvement

Of those who receive travel offers, only the minority rate such offers as excellent when based on specified preferences (23%) and previous purchases (21%), or based on how timely (20%) or proactive (18%) the offer is.

The vast majority agree that they are more loyal to travel providers that give more relevant offers (88%) while eight in ten (80%) say that this is becoming more important to them. Personalization is seen as key across most travel types and is now an expectation among travelers.

Travel Purchasing Habits: When Personalization Meets Premiums

Respondents are willing to pay a premium with the increased expectation of personalization.

Beyond more traditional price and customer service considerations, other criteria are influencing travel purchasing decisions and opening up areas for providers to compete and differentiate. Customers across income brackets are willing to pay premium for a better experience. A provider’s ability to create a contextual connection across touchpoints will help them drive to the right experience by sending the right offer/deal to the right person at the right time.

  • The majority (68%) have purchased extra offers proposed by travel providers

Since customers are willing to pay more, providers should invest in technology for better customer profiling and create that extra layer of immersive experiences on top of the basic product they sell.