September 04, 2015

Personalization in hospitality not a destination but a journey


Effectively executed, personalization is an integral part of the journey to guest loyalty and advocacy. Yet the sheer velocity of change in the travel and hospitality context, data and guest sentiment creates an engagement challenge of immense and complex proportions. A multifaceted approach is needed to take advantage of the industry’s wealth of data and content.

Delivering personalized digital and physical experiences in the travel and hospitality industry is not a new tactic. It’s always been pursued to a limited extent, and has traditionally focused on luxury and high-end segments. Delivering personalization at scale was hampered by affordability. However, the disruptive innovation of increasing data availability has changed the nature of the game, enabling us to know much more about the guest. This, along with the burgeoning omnichannel digital environment with touch points never before considered, allows us to continually engage these guests. Personalization is now scalable, which makes it affordable for the masses. Combined with improved product offerings, it has the potential to deliver a new golden era of travel.

The examples of real-time, data-driven success are out there. In particular, personalization through social media campaigns is well documented. Tnooz puts out lists of the top 15 each year. KLM has realized phenomenal success from 2010 to present. More recently, WestJet has led the way in impacting brand reputation in very positive ways with the resulting fanfare derived from 41 million views of its 2013 offering. What you will see is science (data analytics) being married to creative arts in delivering excellent personalized experiences at scale.

Recent Venture Beat research (see chart below) highlights the marketer’s personalization progress. It may seem surprising, but email still tops the chart as the channel most favored to deliver personalized content. Eight out of every 10 personalized marketing messages are delivered via email and at respectable ROI. Social media also has a respectable showing at 42 percent.

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