How the travel industry uses data to stay at the top of their game. Published January 22, 2016 In terms of email ROI, the travel industry leads the pack. The travel industry are known for their effective use of predictive analysis, utilising relevant data to predict their customers’ behaviour and thus provide a uniquely personalised customer experience. So how does the travel industry use data so effectively, and what could we learn from them? The bookings process Travel companies are experts in using bookings data to create products, competitive tools and targeted promotions. The vast quantity of data captured during the bookings process enables these industries to create ultra-personalised emails for their customers. Idly browsing travel websites as you ponder a holiday to Dubai in August? Don’t be surprised to receive some emails a few minutes later with suggested packages, hotels or excursions as those travel companies use your data to deliver a targeted campaign direct to your inbox based purely on your search history. Impressive, isn’t it? Get in there early Centre Parcs send a welcome email to all guests 15 weeks before their holiday starts, personalised with a map specific to their location. This then sets off a well-oiled sequence of triggered messages including arrival date, itinerary, holiday checklist reminder and activity suggestions. Not only does this personalised targeting foster excitement and generate interest, but it provides the company with data regarding their customers’ interests, plus it’s a handy way to boost sales by encouraging pre-booking or incentivising products. Remember, the more you know about your customer before they set foot through the door, the better level of service you’ll be able to provide. Opinion matters Thomson surveyed more than 1700 of their customers and members of the public back in 2009 the results of which revealed that 75% of their customers looked at online forums when researching their holiday. As a company, they quickly recognised that the opinion of others was pivotal in their customer’s decision-making process, and recognised this data would be invaluable in improving their customer service and product choice. Thomson swiftly embraced the role of independent review websites by teaming up with TripAdvisor, which has ultimately helped lend credibility to their customer reviews as well as provide strong social proof of the quality of their product. Use your customer data and engagement to strengthen your brand image and improve the service you provide. Mobile data In 2015, 65% of same-day hotel reservations were made using a smartphone, according to eMarketer. The travel industry is beginning to turn their attention to easier booking on any device, which not only provides a deeper insight into the type of customers using their products but also generates data regarding a customer’s own preference for channel communication. This increased confidence in mobile purchasing can give brands deeper insight into purchasing behaviours, and other industries are catching on to the role mobile data plays in developing their single customer view. Connected everywhere Travel companies know better than anyone that their customers access technology abroad, so they take advantage of the opportunity by sending triggered messages offering discounts, activity or travel advice to customers whilst in their current destination. Not only that, but travel companies are utilising connected services to provide a smoother holiday experience, from buying tickets to booking a taxi to await them at the airport, companies are integrating data from a huge number of channels to improve the experience. Delayed flight? Don’t worry, soon you’ll receive a notification direct to your smartphone (and if the company is clever, they’ll include a “Sorry, enjoy a complimentary drink on us” message with it.) Final thought When the holiday is over, or the product purchased, don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain some feedback with a short questionnaire and an incentive to book or buy again. The travel industry are dab hands at this as they recognise the value in customer feedback, testimonials, and the social proof they provide. Feeling inspired? Check out our Travel and Leisure guide for even more ideas.