Personalization – why it’s a must and how to really do it
As booking travel moves more and more online, consumer behavior and demands will increasingly drive technology and innovation. The industry’s focus is shifting from a more mass handling, get-the-basics done approach, to recognizing individual wishes, creating more personalized experiences. But what does personalization for end-users look like for online travel and how can technology support OTAs as they strive to satisfy their customers?
Providing a personalized experience in the travel industry has shifted from simply a trend to an expectation. According to Frost & Sullivan, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020 and, in an article by MarTech Today, Gartner predicts that over 50% of companies will redirect investments toward customer experience innovations. Additionally, a report by Kahuna shows that specifically personalizationincreases ROI by 5 to 8 times. With ROI and brand success proving that personalization is critical for business growth, this approach has become an important differentiator for success in the travel industry.
As an OTA in today’s industry, effectively personalizing the customer experience should include tailoring results based on user preferences. This requires collecting and analyzing data regarding customer behavior to gain insights on what they value and present offers accordingly.
For example, with user insights, OTAs could target frequent business clients who have previously booked rooms with Wifi and access to a business lounge with offers that automatically include these add-ons. Personalized results like this one or others that might include attributes like flexible cancellation or breakfast, drive conversions and increase retention. This level of targeting and customization not only requires customer insights but also room mapping functionality operating behind the scenes.
So how does room mapping enable personalization?
Because most OTAs source their inventory from a variety of suppliers who often have varied room descriptions and add-ons for the same room, it becomes nearly impossible for them to properly align and display offers. If OTAs can’t accurately make sense and adequately compare the offers they receive, they’re also unable to present the most fitting options to their customers. This is a key barrier to personalization and optimal conversion.
Room mapping solves this by accurately organizing rooms aggregated from various suppliers and merging them into one standardized listing for each room type. It provides OTAs with a well-structured list, where each offer for the searched room is unified with a standard name, images, and room and rate descriptions. With organized and accurate room descriptions, OTAs can compare offers at the room level and then display them accordingly to their clients. They provide the foundation that enables new, more detailed filtering options and greater personalization opportunities.
How customized will we be able to get our offerings in the future? Here's one for a Sushi eating business traveler.
Room mapping acts as a machine in the background to ultimately support a better end-user experience. It makes sense of detailed room data so OTAs can tailor results based on what the customer values. If users receive results that match what they’re searching for down to the last detail, OTAs have succeeded to enhance the customer experience, resulting in increased conversions and better retention.
Personalization is already a strong current in the travel industry, and automated room mapping functionality can help OTAs offer a more modern customer experience that speaks to them. To stay competitive and increase revenue with an optimized user experience, room mapping is a must.