There may be no industry in which personally relevant cross-channel communication is more of an imperative today than travel and hospitality. There are so many factors at play when it comes to messaging outreach, from timing to customer behavior, and so much fierce competition in the space that generic blasts have virtually no chance of breaking through the noise.
Three factors in particular stand out when you look at the travel industry and why it’s so important to use your live, real-time customer data when building messaging campaigns if you want to get results:
Timing the outreach
According to a 2019 AAA survey, only 40% of U.S. families would take a vacation that year, meaning well over half would not. Especially in this country, a lot of people don’t even use their vacation days. And for travel brands, these numbers matter. If you hit a customer with prompts to buy a flight to Miami or secure a hotel room in New York when they’re not even considering a vacation, your chances of converting the sale are very low.
So, when are your customers most likely to be looking to travel? If you know from their buying behavior that they just booked a trip, maybe they should go into a holdout group for that next campaign. Or if they already have a leisure trip booked to San Francisco in July, perhaps pushing them a deal on a flight there in June doesn’t make sense. While retail brands might be able to prompt frequent purchases, and even follow up quickly with a new deal after a purchase, travel doesn’t work that way as often, unless it’s purchases within the trip itself. Did they buy a flight to Boston? Pushing a Boston hotel or tour for that same week might be a good follow up.
Understanding the traveler
Timing matters a great deal here too. If your travel brand wants to be both personalized and useful to your customers, messaging campaigns shouldn’t stop at the time of purchase. Once they’ve bought with your brand, the relationship should continue from there. What sort of cadence can you put them into that will be helpful for them as they go on their trip, if you have the data available to do it?
If you know when they’re set to arrive at the hotel, perhaps a mobile-push prompt with the check-in time could be useful, or a couple of nearby recommendations for dinner if they’re arriving in the early evening. You have the data for when their flight lands, so a push notification that sends them to your blog post talking about the best ways to get from the airport to downtown might be worthwhile if they’re headed that direction.
The point is to understand traveler behavior, and be smart about how you can continue to add value in helping to make their trip as easy as possible so that they remain a loyal customer.
Knowing buyer behavior
In addition to knowing common traveler behavior and combining that with the personal customer data, that customer data can tell you a lot about what sorts of messages to send and when.
To whatever extent you can get down to tailoring messages at the individual level, you should do that. But travel brands have plenty of other data that can help them. What does your data tell you about the buying behavior of people who live in Chicago? There’s a decent chance they’re more likely to take a winter trip to Miami than your customers in Los Angeles. And people in Seattle might be more open to a trip to Japan than those in Washington, D.C. Your customers who are clearly loyal to Delta probably aren’t going to be interested in a deal on American Airlines flights, just like those who always stay at Hilton hotels are unlikely to convert on an email campaign for Hyatt.
Each individual is different, but you can easily use your own data to segment based upon likely behavior and then refine from there. In the travel sector, whatever you can do to better understand your customers and send the sorts of email, push, and SMS campaigns that make them feel understood will mean far better conversion rates across the board.