- By Sherril Hanson
- May 27, 2022
The road to travel recovery remains a bumpy one with the industry experiencing labor shortages, rising costs and lingering health and safety concerns. According to recent research by Redpoint Global, travel experience satisfaction remains an area to improve upon, with only 36% of consumers reporting they were satisfied with their travel experiences.
Two main pain points were communication challenges and logistical issues. Additionally, travelers reported being underwhelmed with personalization efforts, with only 27% of consumers feeling travel companies are effective at delivering personalized, consistent, and seamless experiences during all parts of their travel journey (pre, during, post). Thirty nine percent of consumers feel that personalization has not been achieved by most travel brands.
Dash Research spoke with Redpoint Global CMSO John Nash to get more detail on the research and discuss how personalization can be a critical piece of customer experience. Nash observed that traditionally travel and hospitality companies have had very underutilized transactional data. It is a challenge to wrangle this information, as it is coming in from multiple systems and channels utilized along the customer travel journey, so it is often fragmented. The Redpoint Global research itself pointed to the diversity in touchpoints and channels. 39% ofconsumers want to easily communicate with travel brands via their preferred channels (email, app, web, etc.). Additionally, 31% planned travel through a vacation planning site or researched online (25%).Collecting data along these touchpoints and making sense of it to get to a single customer view, or a “golden record” is crucial for customer service, operations and marketing.
Customer data platforms (CDPs) are often viewed as being very marketing automation driven, and I asked Nash his view on if the tables were turning a bit toward a focus on customers. “We are definitely seeing a shift in the balance of power towards consumers, and companies becoming more customer centric in travel and hospitality” shares Nash. Customer data management is becoming a foundational investment for many companies, and leveraging it for personalization has benefits both for the company and the customer. CDPs can really help enable people beyond marketing.
According to Nash, “Internally, getting the right data to the right people at the right time is crucial. As an example, can the front desk at a hotel have a complete customer view so that they fix an issue in the moment? Providing front line workers with a 360-degree customer profile can be immensely powerful, especially with automated decisioning layered in.”
Using a CDP for personalization, particularly if its highly relevant and in real time, is an area travel and hospitality companies will need to more deeply explore. Nash says that this is ramping up in travel and hospitality and using a solution that can marry orchestration with data so that actions can be taken in a moment of need will grow in importance. “While Retail CPG has led in personalization efforts, travel is stepping up,” says Nash. “Travel companies are upping their personalization game and looking at what the next level is.”
The recent Redpoint research pointed to a few areas in which travelers were expecting more targeted, personalized communications. Roughly 20-25% of consumers reported the following types of communication as important:
- Pre-trip personalization
- Virtual tours of onsite locations
- Offers to enhance travel onsite
- Personalized safety and health communications
- Logistical information when onsite
Redpoint has a variety of clients in the travel sector, including hotel and airline clients, as well as gaming customers and car rental companies. According to Nash, companies such as Xanterra, which have partnered with Redpoint since 2015 are open to exploring personalization in a lot of different ways. Xanterra is able to go beyond just having a CDP to having it integrated into preference centers – what channels are consumers using and what are their travel preferences? Information can be managed across the many Xanterra brands, all while being highly conscious of privacy. The company can offer an individualized promotions more in line with the type of travel experience a consumer might desire.
“Having the most relevant information at our fingertips via Redpoint’s rgOne, we’ve been able to dynamically adapt when, where and how we communicate with our guests, at every point from pre-visit, onsite and through to post-visit,” says Andrew Heltzel, Director of Marketing and CRM for Xanterra Travel Collection. “Whether they are booking to visit national parks or biking tours, we want to have the most accurate information to deliver real-time offers and insight in a way that is seamless to the guest. Delivering personalization at scale is a big part of why our customer satisfaction remains high even in a difficult travel marketplace.”
Customer data management and the use of CDPs to consolidate, organize, and clean vast amounts of data from a variety of sources are important tools to provide a seamless CX, particularly in travel and hospitality when a single customer might interact with multiple brands across a company’s portfolio. Using the data to create personalized moments of travel delight can help deepen customer-brand loyalty. Says John Nash, “Travelers do not want to be viewed as a walking dollar sign. They want to be ‘known’.”
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