Why data collaboration has become a travel marketing imperative

Arianna Prochak, sales director, Adstra

Heading into the summer travel season, successful travel marketers are focusing on the role of personalization — as always, an essential element of the overall consumer experience. 

Like many people, travelers want to be recognized by the brands they engage with and expect deeper personalization throughout the customer journey, from booking to experience to check-out. If travel brands can meet these expectations, they are more likely to increase loyalty and drive customer acquisition.

However, the travel industry differs from other businesses as it is often a fragmented customer purchase experience. Most travelers still opt to book plane tickets, accommodations, rental cars and activities on numerous websites. This may include several direct, dedicated relationships for frequent travelers, but the fact remains that the traveler still has to deal with distinct silos. 

The future of travel marketing relies on a collaborative experience between all parts of the ecosystem, sharing some form of recognizing a customer. As teams work toward that goal, they’re seeking the proper infrastructure to facilitate collaboration and link consumers across touchpoints.

Why one-to-one marketing matters to travel brands

One key obstacle that travel and hospitality marketers face is identifying why people travel. Some travel only once a year for vacation, while others travel three times monthly for work. The people traveling for business will eventually — hopefully — also travel for vacation. 

Knowing the context of why someone is booking a trip is essential to guide that consumer through their purchase path successfully. This is ultimately about returning to one-to-one marketing. The travel industry has moved away from that model because of the complexity of the technology, but the approaches are still familiar. 

In a one-to-one marketing model, marketers target someone with a known reason for traveling. It could be for business, leisure or pleasure. Are they traveling out of obligation, going to a destination wedding or going somewhere to spend a lot of money? Perhaps this person makes frequent trips to the same location multiple times throughout the year to see family or friends. 

This information, however, is often distributed across multiple partner data sets. The key to marketing success is to unify it so that every brand can access the same basic customer outlines and use that information to customize the experiences on their booking sites.

For example, many brands gather customer information through direct engagement via websites and social channels. These protected first-party relationships are critical — it’s consumers putting trust in the brand. As such, travel brands have access to nearly unparalleled first-party data from their customers. However, openly sharing that information with partners without any protection is impossible and violates most privacy laws and guidelines. And so, unification for these marketing teams relies on only making the necessary insights available rather than all the data in play. 

It is clear that the travel industry — if it unites around a shared identifier that allows the different segments to identify the same consumer across their sites and deliver a customized experience based on the context of the travel — stands to reap significant rewards from its first-party data resources. It just needs to establish a means of fitting all the data together.

How data unification and shared IDs unlock opportunities for travel marketers 

If brands segment based on either the person or the moment (instead of the two together), the experience they deliver can end up being faulty and off-putting, damaging the brand in that traveler’s eyes. While segmenting for both the person and the moment might seem like a virtually unattainable holy grail for travel marketers, the truth is that this knowledge exists and is currently accessible.

AI makes it possible to draw out the necessary insights and segment travelers around their buying conditions. With the correct data inputs, artificial intelligence can unlock a travel persona instead of an individual. This makes marketing to that traveler less static and more dynamic, unlocking the one-to-one potential. 

However, accomplishing this isn’t simple. A significant range of data must come together, and proper data unification is only possible if marketers use a timestamped identity solution that connects information so that they can group personas. 

For example, an airline might determine travel context and appropriately match its marketing and user experience. If the traveler moves to accommodations and that brand doesn’t correctly identify context, the overall experience is still somewhat flawed. 

An anonymized ID for travel would ensure that all these brands can collaborate to reduce the friction of an incredibly fragmented experience. Through collaboration, all parts of the travel industry can benefit greatly. That is the goal for any brand looking to grow its revenue as the industry continues rebounding.

As the travel industry heads into the summer season, marketers must prioritize personalized customer experiences. By leveraging collaboration and data unification to recognize and understand the diverse motivations behind each person’s journey, marketers significantly enhance their opportunities to offer the personalization travelers seek.

Sponsored by Adstra


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