While some travel companies are starting to do personalization, other industries such as retail and finance are still “leaps and bounds” ahead of the travel industry when it comes to providing personalized offers.
“There’s still so much siloed content,” says Greg Abbott, who works with a variety of travel companies from startups to industry leaders in his role as head of travel, transportation and hospitality at DataArt Solutions, Inc.
Abbott and Tom Kershaw, chief product and technology officer at Travelport, discussed what has to happen with the cloud and machine learning during The Phocuswright Conference panel, “Executive Panel: Meta, Data and More.”
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Abbott points to Disney as a model for personalization, because, for example, the company “uses real time machine-learning to be able to optimize where you should stand in line.”
Abbott says the travel industry could benefit from adopting the “sovereign identity” used in blockchain, in which the user opts in and provides data. The approach would appeal to customers who “embrace having a little more privacy and control.”
Kershaw says personalization in the travel industry needs to be “about putting the right options in front of the right person at the right time” and “making it super easy to find what you're looking for as quickly as possible.”
Machine learning has to be the foundation of personalization, because there’s not enough scale in travel to “really, truly personalize” since 80% of travelers only take one trip a year, he explains.
Also, while people used to only care about the cheapest flight, now they care about duration, layover times, carbon emissions and Wi-Fi.
“The only way [personalization] is going to work is if we create lookalike models and we use our data to be able to determine based on what we know about that subscriber what they’re likely to prefer,” Kershaw says.
One challenge, he adds, is that the user searches anonymously and then logs in to book the ticket, but “when you really need to understand what the user wants is during the search process.”
The lack of cooperation and standardization in the industry presents another obstacle to better serving the customer. According to Kershaw, “we have to start developing ways to share information up and down the ecosystem so we can be more efficient.”
Watch their full conversation below with moderator Norm Rose, senior technology and corporate market analyst at Phocuswright Inc.
Executive Panel: Meta, Data and More - The Phocuswright Conference 2022