It’s fair to say that the travel industry has struggled with personalization, but perhaps it has relied too much on the experiences of the wider retail industry.
How to define and target segments of customers has been a hot topic of conversation for years, and it’s a hard task, given the lower frequency of travel combined with the multiple, complex elements that make up a trip.
A traveler might take a ski trip with friends, followed by a European city break and a family holiday.
Andy Owen Jones, co-founder and managing director of BD4, says that while everyone in travel is talking about retailing, there are real challenges with applying retailing techniques to the industry.
That doesn’t mean personalization is not working, but work is needed to optimize not only for the average user but also for more defined groups of individuals.
In an interview in the PhocusWire Studio at Phocuswright Europe, Owen Jones highlights travel companies offering discount vouchers as an example, saying they don’t really know who they should be targeting with the offer.
He says it’s about working out who is about to leave the purchase funnel, who is price sensitive and who would have bought with or without the voucher.
“You have to start thinking how do I codify what an audience is worth and understand what an individual’s contribution to that audience is and, if I do something, will that audience become more or less valuable?
“You’re talking about segmentation; let’s talk about getting personal and building audiences and segments out of individuals not the other way around. You can take individuals and build segments but you can’t take segments and build individuals.”
Owen Jones also discusses the evolution of personalization techniques within online travel agencies and tour operators as well as airlines.