You Need to Hyper-Personalize the Customer Journey in Travel & Hospitality

Dennis DeGregor | March 8, 2018

Hyper-Personalize the Customer JourneyAs a frequent business traveler, I am always amazed at the lack of personalized marketing and service I receive from my favorite brands. I won’t mention any names here, but you know them all – airlines, car rental companies, hotels, theme parks, travel-related credit cards … you get the picture. These are major brands that have billions of dollars in revenue, so you’d expect them to have the budgets to really narrow down their messaging.

Despite having relationships with these major brands for over 20 years in some cases, I rarely receive any truly personalized, 1:1 communications. Over that time, they have collected vast amounts of data on my travel patterns, spending levels, and preferences – so they clearly know enough about me to provide personalized messaging.

As a CX industry professional, this failure to provide 1:1 messaging has always astounded me. Customer data is the industry’s most valuable asset, yet they don’t monetize it. This leads to them missing opportunities for up-sell/cross-sell and targeted service treatments that enhance loyalty metrics and customer profitability. In short, they are leaving revenue and relationship-building opportunities on the table every minute of every travel day for millions of customers across the globe.

The Average Customer Journey in Travel & Hospitality

Travel and hospitality companies tend to have similar journeys for their customers. Almost every rental car company’s journey follows a similar pathway; every hotel has much the same journey from start to finish, and so on. Differentiation comes in nuance, rather than hard and fast product offerings.

For example, a generic travel/hospitality industry company – a hotel in this example – has a customer journey that typically looks something like this:

  1. Search destinations
  2. Make reservation – easy, seamless, best available price
  3. Arrive at destination
  4. Check-in
  5. Guest experience happens
  6. Amenities – best-in-class or other
  7. Check out – efficient, fast, and easy
  8. Post-check out – recognition and appropriate customization of my high-lifetime-value customer status; to include timely, relevant, targeted and proactive marketing

Let’s use one of my favorites as an example … Hilton Hotels & Resorts. If Hilton executes on the above Customer Journey well, then they create the following attitudes about the Hilton brand.

Customer Outcomes:

  • “At Hilton I can connect using the channels I use most and fit my lifestyle (family, leisure, and business).”
  • “They understand my expectations for a digital experience: quality web and app experience.”
  • “They listen to my feedback.”
  • “They make it easy for me to transition across devices and channels.”

The customer journey, when it is managed well, provides those outcomes that heighten the brand perception among guests. Everyone who works at Hilton Hotels contributes to this experience, regardless of whether they’re interacting with the consumer face to face. The idea here is to streamline the transaction and make it so the consumer gets the information they need when they need it.

Where Personalization Fits In

In today’s world, where Digital Natives are the group that determines the success of your brand, a high degree of personalization is needed to craft the above customer journey. In fact, Millennials and Generation X are demanding what may be referred to as hyper-personalization.

To engage in hyper-personalization, advanced data management capabilities are needed. The ability to process massive amounts of big data, and convert this raw data to actionable insights are table stakes in today’s digitally transformed world. RedPoint Global client Xanterra Parks & Resorts is a perfect example of personalization’s success. Xanterra manages 34 hotels with 5,600 rooms nationwide, and manages eight million acres of land. They had a need to integrate consumer data across those properties to build richly detailed customer profiles. They integrated all their customer data throughout various business lines and leveraged it to deliver contextually relevant, highly personalized messaging.

They increased revenue by 839 percent in one email campaign through hyper-personalization. This included growth in every segment across all their properties. This proves that a laser focus on personalization can drive massive upside to your business. Xanterra is proof that personalization drives revenue. More importantly, organizing, analyzing, and leveraging the 360-degree customer view, or “golden customer record,” better than your competitors is the key to sustainable advantage.

Comments on the above post are appreciated – let’s continue the dialogue!

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Dennis DeGregor
Dennis DeGregor

RedPoint Global Worldwide General Manager, Customer Experience Dennison "Dennis" DeGregor is a globally recognized CX industry pioneer and innovator. Prior to RedPoint Global, Dennis was WW CX Executive/Chief CX Executive for HP, where he built and led HP’s first Digital CX Business Unit. He is the author of The Customer Transparent Enterprise, which was nominated for a Forrester Groundswell Award. Connect with Dennis on LinkedIn and Twitter.