Mind the gap

A THOUGHT PIECE BY TIM BEARD.

SBDS - Mind the gap

Travel is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industries. With a global economic contribution of over 8.2 trillion U.S. dollars in 2017, the number of individuals exploring the world continues to grow. And the scale is huge -  a whopping 1.73 billion passengers are flying every day, and travel companies are reporting 20% year on year growth.


And, what’s more, the digital evolution has completely transformed a consumer’s approach to travel. From sharing experiences on social, to exchanging ideas via instant message, the ability to make influenced decisions about the next adventure, is on the rise. My next break away, is at the swipe of my finger, literally.


And it’s a personal affair. As I type my personal data into my mobile to book my up-and-coming flight, I am sharing the most intimate details with a trusted travel operator – all in the assumption that my data will be protected, and used to serve me personalised, un-intrusive communications on the lead up to my trip.


Surely, this opens up huge opportunities for travel organisations to utilise these valuable insights?


The importance of data capture and analysis


With GDPR, businesses such as travel operators have had to tighten the reigns on their data processing, and ensure the consumer is protected. Next, comes the task of capturing, housing and transforming consumer data, which requires collaboration between internal teams and vendors as well as expertise and skill. However, it’s somewhat easier said than done. Ensuring the CRM team is speaking directly to the ad tech team, which is connecting with the mobile team (while guaranteeing a layer of skill and resource to manage the data flow) can seem daunting to many organisations.


As a result, many travel businesses simply adopt a DMP (Data Management Platform) or CDP (Customer Data Platform) to help. These technologies all promise to collect and activate customer data across a variety of marketing channels, promote less wastage in advertising spend, and help protect against Cambridge Analytica-style privacy issues.


The problem is, it’s a skilled job in itself to manage and drive DMPs and CDPs to extract value for the business.  It’s estimated that at least half of organisations that have invested in these types of platforms over the past three years aren’t seeing the full value they expected because the expertise needed is not in place. With internal data complications thrown into the mix, it’s becoming the norm that skilled support is brought in to help.


The travel enthusiast


Travel is a competitive industry where speed, efficiencies and personalisation are at the top of the agenda. There’s a multitude of use cases in how to communicate to a travel enthusiast.


Existing customer data use case: Consumer discloses valuable information during booking process (age, gender, address). Target ads based on age range, families, etc.


Booking trend use case: Consumer always books last minute. Target ads just prior to departure date.

Niche purchase use case: Consumer books 90% cruise line trips. Serve cruise ads only.


The above examples, just to name a few, showcase the vast amounts of data available to the travel operator. Bringing all this data together into one reliable warehouse requires a lot of investment, particularly for larger companies that depend on legacy technologies for customer loyalty data, complaint submissions, and flight operations.


What’s the right technology to use?


Choosing the right DMP or CDP


We often get asked ‘what is the best DMP on the market?’.

The answer is, there isn’t one. There is no one-size fits all with a DMP or a CDP, and they can only be as effective as the person(s) driving it.


It is essential that companies get impartial advice before choosing the right platform for them. This starts with how the business is set up and what the organisational goals are, then working back from there to figure out the right approach and the best technology to bring in. One DMP solution will differ from another, and therefore the approach to data within an organisation needs to change.


For travel companies, as they seek to maximize the returns on their customer information, it is essential to build a company culture around data. Encouraging the teams internally to work towards a common goal, is key. Empowering skilled team members to understand the state of the ‘data lake’, and then partnering with experienced specialists to make sense of it all, is the way forward.


Essentially, you want to make sure your investment has a return.


Just think of how frustrating it is when you purchase a train ticket and the train is cancelled. Businesses need to ensure they are able to reach their destination.


And what’s more, Accenture estimates that digital transformation will add $305 billion annually to the travel industry – with $100 billion going to new businesses that are established with digital in their DNA.


Reaching your destination


As a first step, businesses in the travel sector must now focus on whether or not they are getting everything they can out of their data. There is no doubt this sector has been at the forefront of digital innovation for many years now, but there are obstacles ahead as digital continues to evolve and new innovations come into play. On top of this, steep demand for travel and a multitude of devices – with an estimated 6.6 devices per person by 2020 – is generating an endless supply of data sets.


Be smart. Be forward thinking. Reach your destination with clarity and efficiency.

Download our Playbook now to discover more about the travel sector. Visit our resource page.

About the author

Within our core team, Tim Beard who runs our APAC operations in Melbourne, holds invaluable experience within the travel sector. Having founded and ran a travel tour company in London, back in 2004,  Tim understands the travel sector in great detail.

From 2013, Tim joined Peak DMC, the worlds largest B2B global management service company within the leisure, travel and tourism sector, before continuing his career within the DataTech services sector.


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