Flying high on personalized marketing: Navigating digital transformation in the travel industry

May 28, 2019  Customer-Experience Dirk Vogel

A white suitcase, smart phone, camera, and pair of sunglasses lie on a white tabletop.


Today’s travelers have more options than ever to book trips, compare rates for flights or hotels, and curate their own experiences on the road. Empowered with so much choice, travelers have come to expect first-class service from the brands they support. Case in point: one out of two guests in the U.S. and U.K. would switch hotel providers after a single bad interaction. Four out of 10 travelers would switch airlines.

This relatively new wave of high expectations is creating a digitally disrupted marketplace that puts travel and hospitality brands under tremendous pressure to deliver premium customer experiences in order to improve customer retention.

So how can travel companies convert one-time vacation bookers into frequent guests? And how can companies create strong value propositions around their brands amidst price-point driven competition?

The answer: By treating every customer as an individual and delivering custom-tailored experiences at scale.

Destination: Data-driven Marketing

Data-driven personalization is key to differentiating in the crowded travel landscape today. And it might just be the only way forward: 63 percent of millennials actively demand personalized travel experiences based on their data (eMarketer), and 83 percent of millennials would allow travel companies to track their customer habits in exchange for better customer experiences (American Express).

Here’s where it gets interesting for brands in this segment: Those who have built the data infrastructure to seamlessly capture rich consumer data across channels as the basis for personalized omnichannel marketing are already reaping the benefits of personalization in the travel industry. Savvy companies are beefing up their customer retention programs to reward repeat bookings and build customer loyalty, all the while learning more about customers’ tastes as they move forward.

Staying Connected to Today's Travelers

Best practices in travel industry marketing include clients of Selligent Marketing Cloud, who use data-driven insights to deliver one-to-one personalization in emails, websites, and push messages:

Staying connected to today’s travelers sometimes requires a paradigm shift in an organization’s data strategy. That’s because a siloed, hyper-specialized MarTech stack makes it difficult to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. Travel and leisure industry leader, Vacanceselect Group, made a change by placing Selligent's Universal Customer Profiles at the center of its automated customer marketing.

As a result, the quality of Vacanceselect’s customer service climbed and customer lifetime value increased in parallel. On the business level, centralizing customer data in Selligent effectively doubled (and tripled) direct income in key regions (to learn how, make sure to download our case study on Vacanceselect’s journey towards omnichannel marketing success).

With the right data structure in place, travel marketers can fine-tune their timing. When it comes to engaging today’s mobile consumers, marketers need to maximize every moment by delivering relevance when the time is right. This approach led Selligent customer and travel industry mainstay Thomas Cook to focus on a moment when consumers are especially open to relevant messages about their trip: Right after booking.

Thomas Cook used Selligent to create a dynamic post-booking email campaign to deliver first-class customer engagement. Implementing dynamic content delivered through smart email marketing automation allowed customizing every message with trip-related information for every individual traveler.

The personalized messages also included cross-selling offers from partner companies who deliver on-site experiences at the travel destination, and even integrated with travel agency marketing plans for local customer support. Since then, the only way is up for Thomas Cook’s digital marketing: Message open rates improved by 75 percent, and click-through rates improved at 30 percent and above. On top of it all - revenues from repeat bookings are soaring (download the case study here to see how Thomas Cook created the winning initiative).

Speaking of winning, is your travel marketing aligned for omnichannel success?

Get started right away. To learn about the latest travel industry trends and find out how Selligent Marketing Cloud supports brands in this tech-driven data evolution, read our free 2-page trend report on the Travel & Hospitality business.  

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If you work in the travel and hospitality industry, then you need to stay up to date on the top marketing trends that are driving the industry in 2019.

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