It’s in the Details: Data-Driven Experiences for Travel Marketing

Sep 05, 2018
Julio Lopez

When it comes to travel and hospitality, personalized experiences are what everybody wants. Travel brands have a wealth of information about their customers that should allow them to deliver on individual wants and needs. But figuring out how to leverage that data to create a personalized experience is a real challenge. Email marketing presents a golden opportunity for these brands to leverage their data to build and strengthen relationships with their customers. So what are some things these brands should keep in mind?

Use your data to set expectations

Travel brands need to think about their customer experiences from start to finish. A March 2018 report from eMarketer shows that, for hotels, 51% of consumers expect a friction-free flow of information between multiple channels. This concept applies across all of travel and hospitality. As the consumer moves through the purchase funnel, it’s important that their experience feels streamlined and integrated. Take, for example, the booking process — where the price of a trip can fluctuate regularly due to inventory changes. If a customer sees an email that says a hotel room is going to cost $499 and clicks through to your site to see that it’s suddenly three times that price, it’s a really bad experience.

You can use your existing data to avoid this type of situation by incorporating real-time pricing in your marketing. When we work with our travel clients, we can call their API to make sure the price for each route or stay is accurate at the moment-of-open and updates every time the subscriber re-opens it. Orbitz included real-time pricing in their campaign so subscribers were up to date on the latest prices.

Use personalization to create memorable travel experiences

The experiential aspect of traveling is really important for consumers – it’s why they travel. It’s not about just getting to a destination, but the life experience they’ll get out of it once they’re  there. According to McKinsey, 25% of consumers expect personalization from hotels and airlines. A brand’s data can make a significant difference in the quality of recommendations provided to customers, and thus the experience they have once they arrive. Some travel brands even incorporate location targeting to encourage their subscribers to explore, book a smaller trip in the area, or even rent a car in the area.

If you’re going to New York City with your family, do you want to bring your child to see Phantom of the Opera (which they won’t appreciate because they’re 5 years old), or do you want to bring them to see the Lion King (and, additionally, see tailored offers for that)? That’s what we’re talking about when we say “personalization”. It’s not just first name. It’s not just the destination you want to travel to based on what you’ve searched before. It’s about tailoring the entirety of the content within an email based on relevant data point we know about you. And this is what consumers expect. And it doesn’t just stop at digital.

Focus on all your channels

This is where travel brands can really shine. Extending past email, travel brands can leverage consumer data to create personalized banner ad and website experiences. This helps them create interconnected “digital stories” that nudge the consumer through the purchase funnel. They can also leverage their email list to create targeted audiences on social networking sites. Offline, hotels can even have a customer’s name on a television screen when they walk into a room or automatically upgrade a customer with a better room based on loyalty data. When you use your data to make sure those personalized online experiences blend seamlessly with what happens offline, you elevate your entire brand experience.

About the Author

Julio Lopez

Julio Lopez is the Associate Director of Client Strategy at Movable Ink, the leading provider of intelligent content, which enables marketers to personalize email content at the moment of open. Julio has over 10 years of experience in account management and customer success at Experian CheetahMail, RevTrax, and Eversight. His strategic accounts team is responsible for accelerating strategic initiatives for Movable Ink’s top growth accounts across every vertical.