Modern marketing is all about data — and thanks to
marketing technology, we can use this data to engage in highly personalized
conversations with our customers.
In an industry like travel, where preference
really does rule the roost, ensuring that we can deliver relevant offers to our
customers is key to driving brand engagement, loyalty, and sales. And yet, for
many travel companies, their customers are still largely anonymous.
Yes, we can discern specific
preferences from a user’s online activity: what they consume on social media,
what websites they visit, what articles they read. But to genuinely know a customer
and create a human connection, they need to be conscious participants.
That’s where travel
companies with rewards or loyalty programs have a distinct advantage. At Arrivia,
members of the partner programs we manage willingly share their data
because they know we’ll use it to provide them with a holistic and targeted
By asking questions like — what’s your budget? Do you have
children? Which times of the year do you like to travel? — we can customize
travel offers instead of bombarding them with irrelevant content. Moving from a
traditional mass messaging approach towards a personalized one during the
pandemic allowed us to engage with members more deeply and better understand
their readiness to travel.
Personalization is a
tactic that member-based travel programs can employ across all touchpoints,
from marketing communications like e-mails, direct mail, and text messaging to
dynamic merchandising. For instance, if a member has expressed that they prefer
family-friendly cruises instead of all-inclusive resort stays, we can highlight
those types of trips when they log on to their booking platform.
Delivering value and
loyalty through data
When it comes to where customers
choose to book their travel, travel companies know there isn’t much loyalty.
While they might prefer one hotel brand to another, whether they decide to book
through an online travel agency or directly with the travel company, the
decision usually comes down to price.
travel rewards programs are also at an advantage. As a group with a defined
membership structure (customers must become members to access travel offers and
benefits), these programs can negotiate exclusive pricing and inventory that’s
not available on public platforms. They can also use that inventory and adjust
their margins more effectively.
How? It all comes down
to having those personalized conversations. Imagine an airline with a robust
loyalty program. Through its fulfillment partner, it secures a 60% discount from
a luxury resort brand for members who book a one-week stay at the same time as
The airline sends this offer to members whose profiles match the
hotel brand’s value proposition, increasing the likelihood of conversion. By
segmenting its members into audiences, the airline can create different
narratives around the deal and automate all marketing communications based on
the audience characteristics.
Here’s an example: for
travelers with young children, the airline could create a "family" campaign
that highlights the hotel’s family-friendly amenities, while it could slot
empty-nesters into a "wellness" audience and share details about the on-site
Instead of jumping from one travel platform to another for every part of
their trip, the member stays engaged with the airline’s program because of the
incredible value and convenience they’re getting. Meanwhile, the airline
captures more of their member’s travel spend over the short and long-term.
The power of
data-driven marketing in uncertain times
During the height of
COVID-19, many of us dreamed about the day we could travel again. That pent-up
demand is helping to fuel the travel recovery. But as the arrival of the
Omicron variant taught us, that can change on a dime.
Travel companies that rely on annual marketing
plans have a more challenging time responding to world events. At Arrivia,
we have adopted a start-up mindset when it comes to our marketing; we work in
short sprints. In other words, nothing is set in stone.
We can be agile and
more strategic, scaling our marketing efforts in real-time with minimal human
resources, thanks to automated, data-driven marketing technology.
If we see a
sudden drop in demand for international vacations coinciding with an uptick in
cases abroad but notice our members are still interested in decompressing, we
could inspire them to book trips closer to home by creating offer packages for
domestic resort stays instead.
By constantly evaluating demand, customer
feedback and booking patterns and using automation to create granular audience
segments, we don’t have to guess what travelers want and need; we can do it
That is an incredibly powerful capability to have in your
toolkit when you don’t know what the future holds six or nine months from now. We’ve
been able to harness that thanks to the data that members share with us through
their profiles, search and booking activity.
Serving customers with timely and relevant
travel content allows them to feel in control of what messages they receive
while encouraging interactions that drive sales. With their well-defined
audiences, member-based travel programs are the most cost-effective way for
travel brands to collect the quality data needed to build these capabilities.
They can deliver value that speaks to an individual’s definition of the word,
whether that’s highly discounted pricing, a free room upgrade or access to an
In a highly competitive landscape like travel,
where loyalty can be fickle, that’s the key to forming long-term, trusted
relationships that yield positive returns again and again. The ability to offer
rewards that deliver loyalty, revenue, growth and more customers should be on
every travel company’s mind.
Travel companies can better personalize their customer relationships and inspire more loyalty with the right travel technology and rewards.
* Check out this interview with Zotara and PhocusWire's Kevin May, discuss why data and understanding customers is so important during the COVID recovery.
Why data and understanding customers is so important during the COVID recovery