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Pathway to Personalization – How to Customize the Traveler’s Journey with Your Brand

It’s imperative to recognize the distinctions between first-, second- and third-party data; know how to maximize the value of each; and understand what it takes to integrate all three to create seamless, tailored, and contextually relevant consumer journeys.
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As travelers take “workations,” seek sustainable tourism options, gravitate toward contactless interactions and self-service, and desire increasingly bespoke experiences, travel and hospitality brands are under pressure to perform. The post-pandemic urge to travel remains strong and 2023 revenue is expected to grow by 3.17%. With travel spending on par to meet 2022 levels, air travel demand strong, and both leisure and business travel expected to contribute to significant growth, brands across the industry should be poised to capture their share of the market. 

One of the best ways to attract and retain customers in this industry is through digital personalization—showing them you understand their preferences and helping them connect the dots throughout user experience. However, grappling with personalization across a plethora of platforms and touchpoints is not easy: Many brands either underwhelm or overdo it when customizing brand experiences. Others may overlook the value of ensuring a great agent experience and the role this plays in ensuring customers get the right resolution at the right time in the right place.

Three pitfalls emerge when hotels and others in the hospitality sector consider the path to personalized customer engagements: not taking full advantage of first-party data, placing undue trust in unreliable third-party data, and lacking a precise understanding of the customer journey for targeted buyer personas.  

Utilizing What’s Right in Front of You

Data quality is pivotal to understanding customer attributes, attitudes, and preferences, all of which factor into tailoring experiences that drive desired behaviors (i.e. purchase). In most organizations today, there is no shortage of available data, but knowing how and what to do with the data can prove challenging. 

Businesses that ignore the data they’ve worked hard to collect or don’t know how to activate it to deliver seamless, connected, customized experiences, do so to their detriment. 

The good news is that there’s help available. With AI-enabled interaction analytics from a best-in-class partner, travel and hospitality brands benefit from actionable insights to improve performance and enhance the customer journey. Predictive modeling and data mining further enhance the value of such third-party solutions. 

Not All Data Is Created Equal

But, brands beware. Just because you have access to data doesn’t mean it will be useful – or even accurate. You have to do the pre-work to ensure the data is clean. Leveraging data from far-removed, untrusted third parties can be a high-risk proposition. 

When you receive an email blast addressed to “Dear travel industry professional,” with no name – or worse, your name is misspelled, how likely are you to feel like the brand reaching out truly knows and values who you are and what you care about? To solve for this risk to brand reputation and customer share of wallet, it’s imperative to recognize the distinctions between first-, second- and third-party data; know how to maximize the value of each; and understand what it takes to integrate all three to create seamless, tailored, and contextually relevant consumer journeys. 

Working with a full-service BPO is ideal to steer clear of such situations. With CX consulting and design thinking, the right partner can help guide your strategy, distilling your brand’s unique mission, pain points and customer engagement objectives to provide insightful and customized digital intervention with advanced automation tools. 

Customer Journey Mapping for the Win

To achieve hyper-personalized brand engagements, context is everything and customer journey mapping ensures you get it right. Do you have a clear, comprehensive picture of how your customers initially interact with your brand, which platforms they prefer, how many times they engage before making a purchase decision, where they’re most likely to stall or drop out of the sales funnel?

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for brands today to have little or no clarity around the many pathways their customers take from awareness and consideration to purchase, retention and advocacy. Mapping these journeys – yes, there will be more than one road from A to Z given distinct customer personas – is critical.  

The solution lies in collaboration with an experienced digital CX provider. By integrating next-gen technology, unifying a comprehensive suite of digital solutions, and offering analytics and consulting, the right partner can enable hospitality and tourism companies to transform the brand experience with a thorough understanding of customer preferences, call drivers, and friction points across channels and processes.

Working in lockstep with a best-in-class customer service partner, one leading airline not only gained clarity on its unique consumer journeys, the brand was also able to quantify customer and support agent pain points, then use this information to optimize its contact model and drive additional revenue. When disruption occurs – think weather or mechanical-related delays – this same detailed understanding of customer engagement preferences propels brands to pivot easily and swiftly, delivering the best possible experience. 

When done well with an expert combination of digital solutions and experienced personnel – an airline website defaulting to your seat preference, a hotel reservation system that automatically puts you in your desired room type, a cruise line customer service rep who offers up shore excursion packages ideally suited to your interests – personalized experiences are marketing gold. They drive brand loyalty and – perhaps more importantly – create brand advocates. High quality, trusted, and privacy compliant data is key to bringing this to life. So too, is partnering with industry-leading CX experts to supplement your internal resources, complement brand-native expertise, and deliver delightful consumer experiences at every step along the customer journey. 

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