Travel gets personal
by Hayley Stafford

Have you ever walked into your local bar or café and been greeted by a staff member who already knows your regular order? It makes you feel at home and you’re more likely to visit again. Wouldn’t it be great if you got the same feeling when you visited a travel website?

Personalisation is the fastest growing field in the travel sector, as travel companies rush to give their customers that same warm glow.

More and more, customers expect to be recognised by the companies that they interact with, and it's becoming the norm on modern e-commerce sites. This is partly driven by the prevalence of social media, younger people have lived on the internet for most of their lives and have no expectation of privacy. They are also more likely to want to interact with brands on social media channels. However, it's important to consider all your customers, some of whom will be less comfortable with this type of interaction.

When designing personalisation propositions, it's important to get the balance right between making the customer feel welcome and invading their privacy. This can be done by making sure the personalisation is not too intrusive, and that it offers value to the customer. Wishing a customer 'Happy Birthday' when they log on to your travel site might feel inappropriate, whereas sending them an email offering them a birthday discount offer will be much more well received.

Imagine using what you know about your customer (and your business) more efficently. If a particular customer has taken a beach holiday through your company for the last few years, and hasn't booked yet this year, why not display a targetted offer next time they're on your site, offering a great deal on their next trip?

If a customer has been browsing city breaks on your site, but hasn't made a purchase, why not send them a small discount offer for a city destination that has lots of spare capacity, in the hope that it will motivate them to make the purchase (and on a route you need to sell).

Of course, all of this personalisation depends on having good quality data that's easily accessible to your systems. Working within the data protection laws of your markets is also vital.

Get it right, and you can make visiting your site a more rewarding experience for your customers - and each visit more lucrative for your company - and isn't that what everyone wants?