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Data power is helping travel firms fly

Data power is helping travel firms fly

Through advanced data management, travel vendors can use forensic real-time data to get to know who customers are and, crucially, why they do what they do

More than most sectors, the dotcom era has squeezed travel and tourism. In a sea of online discounters and market disruptors, there’s few places left to carve out a viable USP or seize new brand territory. Progressive vendors know that data can be the difference-maker.

When deployed effectively, data can help firms to sharpen customer outreach via personalised experiences, curated itineraries and hyper-relevant offers. A well-organised data machine can be key in forming a customer-centric business model where product shifts, new revenue streams and more intimate customer relationships are all powered by insight.

Conversely, going to market on the strength of fuzzy, general data can be a hindrance. A common misstep is when data is siloed instead of flowing freely and helping firms truly understand their customers.

Ineffective deployment of data is a barrier to intimacy and to the bottom line – but it doesn’t need to be like that.

(F)using data

Age, location, hobbies – general datasets are hugely beneficial in establishing baseline customer who and where trends. It’s imperative to paint a general picture of your best-looking customers, but going to market with singular insights is premature and limiting.

A travel vendor can set its sights beyond the who. Understanding why customer segments, or even individual customers, do what they do is key to knowing them better. It’s true customer intimacy.

Splicing Silo A’s demographic data with Silo E’s psychometric data and Silo F’s browsing habits data, for example, may expose a small group of male customers: single; 25-30; risk averse, who shop at Waitrose and have a history of travelling to remote destinations.

As demographic outliers, this niche segment now seems worlds apart from the stereotype of the single young male – and vendors can refine their approach accordingly.

Offering this newly discovered segment something more sensitive and relevant than a Club 18-30 deal will not only increase engagement and conversion, these customers may become advocates of the firm that took time to address their specific tastes with relevant messaging and an offer that fit.

Intimacy is seeing beyond consumer demographics and understanding real human beings. If data is singular and siloed, it provides only generality when an audience responds to (and even expects) specificity.

Timing is everything

By drilling data, vendors can learn the who, where and the why of customers. But next comes the when. Intimate knowledge of your best-looking customers is nothing without a prime window in which to take your best shot.

Based on real-time insights, travel firms can use data management systems to take the pulse of prospects in a live setting. The ability to understand general consumer sentiment, zoom in on buyers in the purchase funnel, and serve appropriate and relevant offers based on those insights, are key steps in capturing new, loyal customers with substantial lifetime value potential.

Going to market with a refined customer understanding, and establishing salient moments to pull the trigger, means travel firms have the correct and most up-to-date tools in their arsenal to increase their sphere of success, and carve out new space to grow.

A single customer view

These may look like ideal scenarios but they’re in play and possible now. By auditing a firm’s current data strategy – by assessing all transactions and all possible additions within the current set-up – travel companies can assemble a binding, comprehensive, pivotal customer data engine.

It’s this data engine that brings the ideals to life: splicing data, defining tight customer segments and putting everyone – even single customers – under a powerful microscope. It’s these deep data insights that arm vendors with right information at the right time so they can engage customers in a meaningful way.

Conducting business from a new, customer-first vantage point is a step-change for travel firms who have, for most of their lives, been transaction-focused. But on the strength of data insights, firms can credibly move into new brand territory, and edge ahead with new momentum. Who doesn’t want to be the travel firm that truly knows, doesn’t speculate, knows what customers want.

Golden data in practice

Motivated by having industry-leading insights at their fingertips, several major travel firms are now looking to turn their business model on its head and deploy a data-first approach.

Onepoint recently completed a transformation project where the client – a market-leading tourism group with a €20bn turnover – sought to evolve from a transaction-oriented business to a customer-centric one.

After creating a blueprint for the golden customer record, Onepoint designed and built a flexible, scalable and high performing customer data engine to accumulate countless more records vying to fulfil the golden ideal.

The new data engine – nicknamed the single point of truth – is now accessible in every far-reaching corner of a pan-global business, supporting multiple geographies and producing validated, cleansed data that identifies customers, sentiment and opportunities. Right now that firm is responding to the requirements and the tastes of real human beings in real-time.

To create a powerful data platform capable of driving a business into a new era, Onepoint uses a blend of leading technologies and bespoke tools; many of which are developed in-house. Our projects regularly fuse best-in-class technologies – such as MongoDB and ElasticSearch. And Talend, a technology with which our team have accreditations qualifications, and decades of experience.

To get a comprehensive, single view on your customers, please get in touch and view our travel case study.

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