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3 travel personalization examples to inspire marketers

For marketers, personalization is profitable—especially in the travel industry.

Our own research found that 87% of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with travel brands that succeed at personalizing their apps and websites. And even though the travel industry is ahead of the game here, there’s still plenty of room for improvement across not only their apps and website but also the full omnichannel experience.

Travel and leisure brands have already proven that they’re powerhouses when it comes to personalizing discounts and offers at physical locations. However, travelers expect so much more from their favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) brands.

In the same personalization study, we found that only 64% of consumers believe current websites and apps are delivering travel personalization well. As a travel marketer, you have an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors and deliver a truly relevant experience across interaction points—but where should you focus your efforts?

Take a look at what the following three brands from across industries—airline, cruise and hotel—are doing with travel personalization to gain some inspiration for your own campaigns.

1. United Airlines takes travel personalization beyond booking

A recent report from LoyaltyOne found that loyalty members can spend up to three times more than non-members. And while many travel brands take advantage of loyalty programs to communicate special discounts on new booking opportunities, United Airlines is using data from its MileagePlus program to go beyond booking with its travel personalization.

With Epsilon’s Agility Loyalty, United Airlines takes advantage of machine learning capabilities to drive upsell and cross-sell personalization for ancillary sales like seat upgrades, partner programs, priority boarding, flight changes, entertainment and more. These personalized offers are automatically executed across all channels, including web, email, SMS, mobile, call centers and check-in kiosks. The key is that everything works together to drive personalization across every interaction point with the consumer—and ultimately for the brand as well.

The results have been clear:

  • 12% increase in web conversions
  • 62% higher email click-to-open rates
  • 10% boost in conversions at the airport
  • 70,000 personalized offers generated per day

And as a result of finding smarter ways to upsell and cross-sell, United Airlines has become the #1 airline in ancillary revenue.


Download the guide: From 1:1 to 1:You: Personalizing the loyalty experience 


 

2. Norwegian Cruise Line focuses on data to build their best audience

Customer acquisition presents challenges for any travel brand. But for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), increasing capacity for its Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises lines was particularly challenging because of their premium price tags. In this case, increasing customer acquisition isn’t necessarily about discounts—it’s about reaching the right prospects at the right time.

With the help of Epsilon Data solutions, NCLH has been able to find their best audiences—people ages 55 years and older with high net-worth—more efficiently. The key to success is using actual customer transaction data rather than model-based data to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Using transactional data, NCLH learns where, when, how much and how often its target customers are spending.

After working with Epsilon Data, NCLH saw a 2X lift in conversion rates compared to the traditional modeled demographic data that previously drove travel personalization efforts. These results have been a boon to the NCLH team.

So how does this factor into the personalization conversation? Using data to bring the right offer to the right person at the right time is everything personalization strives to do. And—as is the case with NCLH—that personalization starts with identifying the audience in the first place to help find new prospects that meet the right criteria through transactional data.

 

3. Marriott personalizes messaging to improve email engagement

For years, travel brands have treated email communications like a billboard. You take a batch-and-blast approach, hoping that high volume translates to high conversion rates. But with increasing consumer expectations for personalization from every travel brand today, Marriott sought to improve its approach to email communications.

Marriott’s biggest challenge for personalizing email communications (and this is something we often see across the travel industry) was connecting disparate data sources to provide their marketing team with the insights necessary to reach customers on a 1:You level. And to be fair, between online and offline booking data, call centers, rewards programs, app interactions, website interactions and much more, it can be difficult for any travel marketer to tell a cohesive story across each person’s interactions with their brand.

Using Epsilon’s Agility Harmony email solution, Marriott was able to make sense of its various information inputs and deliver relevant, personalized content to people at scale. Today, Marriott can extend the relationship each individual has with its hotels to all of their digital platforms—creating true 1:You relationships for everyone. Now, traveler data is front-and-center on every email as Marriott delivers personalized recommendations, like sharing content based on where an individual may want to go, at all stages of the travel experience. And as a result, the hotel brand has revived email engagement and increased revenue per email delivered.


Take the quiz: 5 questions that reveal your email personalization maturity 


 

How to deliver 1:You connections across your traveler interactions

One thing is clear from the ways that these three brands are connecting with travelers—there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to travel personalization. Engaging with travelers with more personalized marketing means coming up with unique ways to tailor experiences to the individual. And in these brand examples, we can see three specific ways you can go about this:

  • Leverage machine learning to drive personalization and content velocity: In the United example, we see the airline taking advantage of advanced machine learning to personalize offers in real time to customers and existing loyalty program members. For the airline, this is all about boosting ancillary sales, and it works.
  • Know more about your target prospects: For brands like NCLH, the value of travel personalization hinges on data. The cruise line makes the most of both first-party and third-party data to improve audience segmentation and focus marketing efforts on potential customers that are most likely to convert.
  • Connect disparate data sources to understand more about each individual: Engaging with travelers via email is nothing new. But Marriott has shown that it’s possible to accelerate this channel by going beyond just [FirstName] personalization and deliver messaging at a true 1:You level.

Each of these takeaways represents a different way you can approach travel personalization. But when you take a closer look, they all revolve around leveraging data-driven insights and enhancing them through machine learning.

With the right data and inputs, machine learning can deliver advanced personalization for your travel brand. The challenge is understanding how you can make the most of customer data and use this technology to make every interaction with your brand count.

Check out our webinar with Skift to learn more about how machine learning is opening the door for deeper personalization with United Airlines.