As travel restrictions have been rolled back, travelers around the world are dusting off their passports and planning a big getaway for 2022 and beyond. After having spent the pandemic daydreaming about their next adventure, many consumers are overwhelmed by choice and unsure where to go – or when. This is a problem that personalization technologies can easily help solve!

Travel companies used to relying on historic booking data to predict customer behavior are being left behind. After depending on the internet to stay connected to the world during lockdown, users have drastically altered their search and booking behaviors. They are now much more dynamic and thus less predictable. Historical CRM data has become almost worthless.

Marketers today must be able to react to short-term demand and travel trends. In addition, digital sales must also increasingly advise and serve customers individually. One-fits-all and FIY (find-it-yourself) offers or generic information for large customer segments no longer meet the wishes of today’s digitally experienced customers, who were trained during the pandemic to make greater use of digital channels.

What new technology needs have emerged as a result of the pandemic and changes in travel behavior?

Until now, traditional and generic personalization technologies have relied on campaign creation for static customer segments. These are controlled and played out by complex rule-sets. Scaling this approach to a full – mostly anonymous – customer database and across the entire search and booking process (and beyond) is a resource-intensive and complex challenge.

At the same time, this approach is not very effective as customers expect highly relevant, individualized services that are tailored for their individual needs – and not averaged segments.

The key travel technology trend that emerges from this for digital travel distribution is the need to personalize the presentation of offers and customer communication – in real-time, individually for every single (mostly yet unknown) user. These offers should be based on a differentiated and well described product and service offering, enabling the promotion of a unique product value to the traveler.

Which personalization technology will be crucial for the post-pandemic period?

Against this background, we have expanded the use of our AI – starting from individual use cases to support customers throughout the entire search and booking process. The AI takes over the task of selecting the most suitable offers and/or information for each customer and automatically presenting them in the right way, at the right time to encourage users to book.

Travel providers can control the AI by defining commercial objectives and applying hypotheses on expected customer behavior, removing the need to manually create multiple campaigns for target groups or segments.

What do these technical innovations for personalization look like?

The most successful personalization technologies are specifically geared to the challenges of certain industries. For this reason, our own SaaS platform is built specifically for airlines, hotels and car rental companies, as well as for the distribution of package tours. Exploratory projects are also underway in the retail sector.

The major added value of this new tech solution lies in the automated real-time understanding of the interests and intentions of each individual, anonymous customer – which are stored in a centrally available user profile. This user profile, which is continuously self-learning with every additional interaction, can be used for the personalization of countless touchpoints in the user journey. For this purpose, we provide predefined use cases – and support our customers in developing their own, differentiating services with unique added value.


Examples of classic AI-driven use cases:

  • Individualized product recommendations
  • Cross-selling of individually relevant add-on products / ancillaries
  • Upselling of higher-value services to suit individual customer needs
  • Personal relevance sorting of result lists
  • Effective churn prevention (eg alternative offers in case of empty or very short search result lists)
  • AI-controlled promotion/display of predefined content (images, videos, messages, offers, etc.) to specific target groups


Examples of individual AI-driven use cases:

  • Targeted display of vouchers and discounts to increase conversion rates only of users who would not book without them
  • Targeted promotion of individually relevant benefits of customer loyalty programmes to generate new programme participants
  • Personalized newsletters
  • Omnichannel personalization across devices, domains and channels (eg website, call center, agency, mobile, email, messenger, retargeting)
  • Innovative digital solutions to inspire undecided users – such as Hotelplan’s Holiday Finder, powered by BD4 technology

 

Why should personalization technologies be tackled now?

Regardless of future uncertainties, there is one thing for certain: Website visitors who take time to browse on your site are willing to spend! In Britain, 46% are expecting to spend more money on their 2022 holidays as pandemic restrictions are eased and the world reopens. This is also reflected in Germany where bookings are expected to reach 75% of the pre-Covid level in summer 2022. 48% of German households say they have planned the necessary money and time for a holiday in 2022 – more than ever before.


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