EyeforTravel Europe 2018

June 2018, London

Why true customer loyalty requires smart data sharing

Sharing, interpreting and humanising data across multiple platforms is the end game, but it’s keeping people awake at night. Derek Walter reports from Day 2 of the San Francisco Summit

Good travel brands are always thinking about their customers and how to create memorable and pleasant experiences. But aside from not creeping them out, what many need to do more of, according to the experts speaking at day two of the EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit, is share and interpret the data in a broader context. In doing so, they will empower users to get even more out of their travels.

If you’re a hotel, that same customer is likely also using an airline, some type of ground transit, and accessing tours through another company. All of these different services are creating useful buckets of data, and if companies want to ramp up the personalisation potential with customers, then it’s time to start sharing and think big about what the end result can be.

Amy Fox, head of business development and strategic partnerships for Lyft, said the complete customer experience should be the end game, and considered what more cooperative sharing and imaginative thinking might lead to.

The complete customer experience should be the end game

“Imagine that a vacation has no anxiety about flight delays, room readiness, and you’re heading to your event on time due to no traffic on the roads. These are really audacious ‘what ifs’. But this is what we’re working on and trying to make a reality. Travel is behind the game at focusing on users and leveraging the right technology to do so. It’s on us to make that happen,” she said.

The first step is to recognise that learning more about users means the effective yet responsible sharing of data for better insights. Additionally, travel companies must tap into the brand consciousness that Generations Y (millennials) and Z tend to have.

Brand clout

Susan Black, the chief commercial officer for CIE Tours, said it’s the amount of stock that younger travellers put into brand loyalty that figuratively keeps her awake at night.

“It is, after all, our brand that’s reflected and most of our interest is driven by it now,” she said. “If you’re on a cruise, a tour, or something which is a big basket spend but you’re there for a longer duration, you want to make sure everything is presented well up front, before, during and after the trip. And you’re sharing that experience when your partners. It’s so important that you are aligned.”

Multiplatform data collection is the key. Siobhan Mitchell, the director of loyalty marketing and sales for Accor, said such data collection is important, but it has to be used in the right way. Customers are conscious of collection, but willing to oblige if it leads to enhanced experiences.

“Multiplatform data collection is worthless unless it’s utilised,” she said. “We need to use it and make it relevant to our guest experiences. We need to know our members and use this information to make their stay exceptional.”

For most brands, this means using data to make the right types of offers and remove the ‘friction’ from the trip - a phrase that was repeatedly used during the course of day 2. How that looks may vary from one situation to another depending on the nature of the trip.

Selling the story

Another useful way to interpret such data is to use it to bolster a brand’s story. Kelly Soderlund, the public relations and content manager for Hipmunk, uses such insights to tell stories about the company’s work on its blog.

Just like any good article, information must be timely, relevant, and have a catchy hook that appeals to readers.

“Humanise the data. Ask yourself what you care about as a consumer,” she said. “Why should the consumer care? If you care about the subject matter, the users will probably be interested as well.”

Missed San Francisco? There are exciting events, featuring leading brands and innovators talking about the hottest topics in travel tec, on the horizon

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