The importance of offering personalised experiences to travellers is rising all the time. Increasing sophistication being shown by airlines in their approach demonstrates how crucial personalisation now is within the travel sector. TMCs and OTAs must ensure they are not left behind.
With the sharing economy gathering both steam and headlines, new restrictions being imposed all the time, and travel risk rarely far from anyone's mind, today's travel industry is facing unforeseen threats. But embracing and improving personalisation is one, relatively simple, way for TMCs and OTAs to demonstrate their continued value.
Personalisation on the Rise
As an example of the way that airlines are now practising what TMCs and OTAs have known for years, Skift pointed to an Iberia Airlines promotion that highlighted their newfound willingness to try personalisation tactics. In late 2016, the airline ran a small promotion, confined to Spain and live for just three weeks, promoting travel based on the results of a survey email sent out prior to the promotion.
The email asked customers where they would most like to travel, and with whom. Adverts later ran, personal to each customer, advertising travel along the lines of “Make a dream come true. Take [friend] to their dream destination [location], this Christmas.”
Lufthansa currently operates a similar program, known as SMILE, dedicated to personalising recommendations to customers. This can vary from suggesting travel destinations to frequent fliers, to offering travel ‘extras’ based on personal details.
Examples such as these highlight a wider trend towards personalisation across the transport industry, and the fact that those TMCs and OTAs that haven't yet taken steps to innovate risk being left in the dust of those that do.
Taking Advantage of Organisational Data
Targeting customers in this way and bumping profits with ancillary "extras" is by no means new to agents and travel managers, but many are not yet fully taking advantage of their opportunities to personalise and merchandise.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways TMCs and OTAs can stay one step ahead. These businesses are in an enviable position, thanks to the large amount of detailed data they tend to hold. Effective personalisation is not a question of simply targeting based on demographic but taking advantage of existing data, to pinpoint the exact offers previously taken up by clients and their travellers and tailor marketing content accordingly.
Getting the Most out of Personalisation
Some of the simplest steps can make a big difference – for instance: making sure your travel itineraries are as user-friendly as possible and offer personalisation where appropriate, knowing how different customers prefer to be contacted and acting accordingly, or using your data or client relationships to capture information such as travellers' preferred airline seats and working to deliver these whenever they are available.
With the right software, your GDS can easily be enhanced to help you offer improved service to your customers, with minimal extra effort on your part.
Customer satisfaction isn't necessarily the only benefit – though its value shouldn't be underestimated – personalisation opens up new merchandising opportunities and is a proven marketing tactic that delivers increased sales.
A Time for Change
As the world of corporate travel continues to change, it is vital that TMCs and OTAs are not left behind. Taking advantage of opportunities to innovate – such as personalise the travel experience for clients, and to use big data to make inferences and recommendations to the right people at the right time.
Here at Navitas, we can provide you with a range of novel solutions and improvements to your GDS systems. Thought of something we haven't? Then get in touch and request our custom development services.