Revenue potential. Tangible results. Commercial viability. It’s the holy trinity for any sales and marketing team, but not always easily quantified when assessing new technology. Travel companies assessing how to use AI to cross-sell and upsell to their customers want to know what return they can expect.

As experts in the travel sphere, our team continuously explores new ways to help our partners achieve their commercial goals. In recent blogs, we’ve looked at how our technology can boost efficiencies in loyalty programmes and prevent churn without losing profits. But how can AI technology help airlines and other holiday companies cross-sell to their online and digital sales visitors?

Using AI to cross-sell to always be relevant

The psychology of selling has been used for generations in the person-to-person sales process – both face-to-face and over the phone. The advent of digital selling removed an element of the ‘personal’, with many websites producing a static shopping experience, ignoring who the user is as an individual. The scientific approach of finding “a way to market to [customers’] current needs and wants” is, put simply, lacking in many online shopping environments.

Digital companies know the value of human interaction and connections in the sales process, but often struggle to translate that value into actions online. Using Artificial Intelligence, a travel website can transform itself into being always relevant – to each and every user.

Consider your user journey when cross-selling through AI

Rarely do your customers wake up in the morning, think ‘I’d like to fly from Paris to New York next week’ and book after the first search they make. Like any purchase decision, there’s a customer journey when someone decides to travel. At varying speeds, a potential customer will cycle through different stages of intent: Looker, Planner, Booker and, finally, Customer. These stages represent opportunities for an airline or travel supplier to communicate with the user. Consider what messages you would like to present at stages of your specific selling journey, as a customer is planning, booking, pre-flight, in-flight, in-destination, and post-flight.

Artificial Intelligence learns from thousands of data points, identifying in real-time the stage each of your online visitors are at. Using AI to cross-sell products and services can transform your website, driving real-time merchandising in a seamless way.

Take an airline website as an example. AI tools can predict the online users who are open to adding hotels, transfers or rental cars, and present these options at organic moments in the customer journey, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Technology in action: a use case for airlines

The challenge many companies face with new technologies is understanding how it can benefit the bottom line.

Airlines have diversified from flight only into wider holiday brands, whilst retaining a focus on their core flight-only business. A challenge many face is how to sell more on their flight-only brand website to digital customers who are open to purchasing add-ons such as hotels, without annoying those other customers who just want a quick flight-only booking.

Using the airline industry as an example, let’s look at how the process of using AI can help personalize merchandising and the online digital shopping experience.

Setting up: You’ve decided to cross-sell through AI on your airline’s website. Commercial product steering is possible to help you reach targeted KPIs. Are there specific hotels or products you would like to prioritize during a certain travel window? Do you have offers that you only want to display to families or repeat customers?

Relevance: Our technology assesses each online user on an individual basis, using thousands of data points to paint a picture of their desired travel experience. Simultaneously, the AI calls upon product profiles to select the most relevant hotel or other holiday element, displaying it in changeable areas of your website and digital sales platform to users it identifies as being open to the possibility of add-on purchases.

Guiding rules: AI is capable of understanding your entire audience. Eligibility rules for offers and products to be displayed can be set to reflect certain business requirements, enabling commercially-steered 1:1 personalization. The AI can assess in real-time what works and scale productive and profitable actions to the entire audience.

Self-learning: Customers expect personalized content and relevant information. By showing different recommendations in different placements at different stages of the user journey, the algorithm continuously learns what offers and products appeal to specific customer profiles. It uses that information to refine what is presented, testing a new product, message or placement, to maximize uptake. This real-time evolution encourages a fast testing and experimentation environment, letting an airline tweak business rules and priorities to maximize return and drive revenues.

Using data to predict customer behavior has led online giants like Amazon to dominate the global marketplace. For travel, the uptake of technology has been slower than in other retail sectors – even as the former British Airways CEO recently discussed – despite research suggesting “travel brands find they’re more successful at upselling when they show only a few offers that match customers’ likely interests.”

The process of (cross-)selling is dependent on relationships

Your customers need to trust what you sell and how you sell it. By using AI to cross-sell online – showing relevant products and services to the right user at the right time – you can grow your sales in a targeted way.

Get in touch with our team to discuss how our technology can drive your business forward.

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