How big data can work for travel agents

Expert shows how to tailor ads to suit agents’ clients



More travel companies are becoming aware of the emerging possibility to create customer profiles using sophisticated advertising platforms, from re-targeting to bespoke emails. And technology companies are stepping in to help. What travel firms especially want is to offer relevant, personalised and timely deals, TTG Digital reports.

But Stephen Taylor, vice-president and managing director of Sojern, a data-driven travel advertising platform, warns that travel marketers must never lose sight of the customer.

“With data marketing today, you can get things more wrong than ever before. You can pretend to know someone,” he says.

One method of extracting more personal information from a customer is never to miss an opportunity to engage. For example, after a customer has booked, travel companies might simply send an email saying, “Thanks for booking with us”. But Taylor suggests: “Find out something else.”

Also re-targeting could be done more intelligently, he argues. Often, a consumer will browse for a particular product and then find they are “followed” around the web, thanks to cookies, with ads for the same very same product.

It can be bad practice to try to sell a customer something they do not want. Instead, these re-targeting ads should be used to re-engage with that person: “Ask them why they didn’t purchase that flight, for example. Find out why people do things, do it algorithmically – the more data points you collect, the more relevant the information.

“Be smart and pull in all the data. Otherwise, the consumer perception is bad, and it breaks the rules of advertising.”

He adds: “If someone had searched for Heathrow-New York on an airline’s website, and you know that person is part of the airline’s frequent-flyer program, rather than repeating the same advert on other websites, target them with an email for the same flight but with an upgraded seat.”

As a result, Taylor says data “could go so much further” for travel agents. “Act like a local […] travel agent. You still need to do business in a personal and relevant way. Bring it back to the consumer.”

TTG Digital

[photo courtesy Small Luxury Hotels of the World]


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