The ABTA Travel Convention took place this week in Abu Dhabi, and saw the great and the good of global tourism brands debate what’s new and what’s next for the industry. A running theme throughout the conference was increased personalisation; understanding customers in more detail to be able to respond more effectively to their needs and preferences.
In a programme heavily influenced by the tremendous impact that digital technology has had on the travel sector, many speakers discussed how the industry could evolve its thinking when it comes to inspiring the next holiday purchase. Some recognised that would-be holidaymakers don’t simply want communications based on their previous travel purchases, but instead are looking to find new and exciting destinations to explore. Thimon de Jong director of WHETSON/Strategic Foresight speculated about an incoming You Know Me Society, where businesses will need to show customers just how well they understand their needs. Thimon also discussed the impact of smartphone search and ad delivery software development, taking on more of an ‘executive assistant’ role in curating and filtering information to deliver results and content it perceives users will find most relevant.
Search, display and video ad targeting through these third party tools such as Google, programmatic ad targeting software and You Tube will have a tremendous effect on what travel communications are being seen by which consumers, and makes it even more crucial that any messages to current customers are made as relevant as they can be through the use of effective tracking technology and targeting techniques and using what you know about a customer to tailor the messages you send. De Jong even speculated that companies would be able to identify people’s moods based on their openly shared information, and tailor communciations accordingly.
Another fascinating session was technology provider Amadeus’ latest Travel Tribes research. Future Traveler Tribes 2030 looks again at how tourism businesses can understand customers in more detail, by identifying six emerging influential traveler profiles, and how to engage them.
Looking at how and why people travel rather than necessarily their destinations or personality trait, the six core profiles are: Obligation meeters, who travel for a specific objective such as business, or to see family and friends aboard; Simplicity Seekers, who want all of the hassle of booking taken care of for them; Reward Hunters, looking for a luxury experience or personal improvement while away; Social Capital Seekers, who see travel as a badge of distinction for their personal brand; Cultural Purists, motivated by a desire to immerse themselves in a different culture; and Ethical Travelers, influenced by their political, social or environmental consciences when away.
Understanding which groups your customers might fit into coupled with what you know about past choices, and their socio-economic profiles through tools such as Mosaic could help travel brands talk to existing customers and target prospective customers with personalized messages. This in-depth profiling of emerging customer types in travel and tourism is indicative of how savvy brands in the industry are in approaching their market. Arguably no other sector has been so transformed by the potential of online, and from the Convention it seems holiday businesses are eager to embrace the potential of new technological developments to understand their customers in greater detail, and be able to recognise and engage with them with depth and resonance to inspire future travel choices.
Our take on these themes discussed at the ABTA Travel Convention? The travel and tourism sector is poised to grab with both hands the opportunities presented by greater insight on customers and emerging engagement techniques to build stronger bonds with them. Given the transformative nature of this sector’s relationship with digital, the future is an exciting one for holidaymakers and travelers in terms of the kinds of stimulating and thought-provoking content they will be receiving from operators. Based on the presentations at this Convention, the sector is about to become hyper-relevant in the personalisation of its content to travelers and has the potential to stimulate long-term loyalty with customers looking for ideas on fresh destinations, new hotels to try or just different ways their travel can enhance their experiences of the world. The door is open, the technology is there, and the channels are in place for airlines, hotels, tour operators and anyone in travel and tourism to really run with effective, engaging and exciting communications strategies which can tap into people’s individual wanderlust. The first steps simply need to be taken.