EyeforTravel’s Digital Strategy Summit

May 2019, London

Europe's biggest event for commercial and digital travel execs

7 intelligent, relevant and human ways to hyper-personalise

A new free white paper from EyeforTravel hears insights from Japan Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and RCI on their journey towards hyper-personalisation in travel

If the challenge to 'personalise’ for every customer wasn't enough of a challenge, now now travel companies are looking to go a step further with what is being coined hyper-personalisation. Like many of these terms, definitions vary but a recent free white paper from EyeforTravel puts it like this: “Hyper-personalisation is the ability to not simply target customers in a superficially relevant way but with intelligent, highly tailored real-time offers”.

Hyper-personalisation is the ability to not simply target customers in a superficially relevant way but with intelligent, highly tailored real-time offers

All three brands interviewed for the white paper - Japan Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and RCI, a brand under the Wyndham umbrella – agree that Amazon is leading the way in the way it is hyper-personalising for its prime customers. However, senior product, data and analytics executives admit that it still early days for most travel companies which are at very different stages of the process.

Some of the key findings from the latest white paper include:

1. A solid recommendation engine is a cornerstone of any attempts to hyper-personalise. Amazon has nailed this but many travel brands are still working on it. In RCI’s case, the group is taking a proprietary approach based on all its data. “But we are using similar techniques to other recommendation engines, things like collaborative filtering,” Jeremy TerBush, SVP Analytics, RCI, explains in the white paper. As an idea of how long this can take, Wyndham’s recommendation engine was built by one of the members of a six-strong data science team over a nine to 12-month period.

2. Data fragmentation poses a challenge but there is a lot to be gained from getting to grips with existing data stores. Brands like Japanese airlines are working on ingesting all siloed data into a ‘data lake’ in order to build a single view of the customer and real-time access to data – this is crucial. Meanwhile, in the airline space, Isaac Mavis, Allegiant’s vice president of data science, says hybrid cloud models that combine private cloud with the use of public cloud services, are viewed as an effective way to create a unified computing environment in this complex environment.

3. A step-by-step approach will help to identify the best use cases for data. This means bring teams from traditional silos to the same table. For teams in established travel brands, it is especially important to carefully consider their objectives and the level of risk before trailblazing with new technology; sometimes it can be a case of applying fixes and patches to existing legacy systems.

4. Partnerships with suppliers, white label solutions and dynamic packaging are a way forward. It is not enough to embrace hyper-personalisation using data, algorithms and AI. Akira Mitsumasu, VP, Products & Services Planning, Japan Airlines, for one believes that to truly customise the experience brands need to use both data and the capability of suppliers to offer a wider repertoire of choices. By doing so, JAL believes it can transition from being more than “just a mode of transport to a retailer in the true sense of the word”. White-label solutions and dynamic packaging are two ways this can be achieved.

5. It is the era of the API. The exchange of data using APIs will enable brands to provide a much wider range of services enabling airline companies to become more than just a mode of transport, a journey that JAL is very much on.

6. Knowing your customer and what they want will help to remove obstacles in the booking flow. If a customer has shown a propensity to buy something, making it bigger or placing it higher up on the page can lead to faster conversions. Oh, and if you are speaking about knowing your customer, facial recognition technology, providing you aren't creepy, can help. JAL is looking into the use of this in some places although Mitsumasu would like to go further so that a customer “never has to show another document” in order to prove their ID.

7. Humans will continue to play a central role, although those roles are likely to change. Enough said.

To find out more download EyeforTravel’s free white paper How the Best in Travel Profit from Hyper-Personalization

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