AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Conversations: MoEngage
Raviteja Dodda: Founded in 2014, MoEngage is an intelligent customer engagement platform built for the user-obsessed marketer. Our AI-powered customer journey orchestration, personalization capabilities, and in-built analytics have led us to be recognized as a leader by Gartner, Forrester, and G2 in the mobile space.
MoEngage has recently achieved the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Travel and Hospitality Competency Partner status. This designation further validates our domain expertise in digital customer engagement for the travel and hospitality industry.
We work with Fortune 500, enterprise, and mobile-first companies worldwide, helping them delight their users with thoughtful messages delivered at the perfect moment across touchpoints. Right from providing frictionless booking experience by sending flight alerts, travel tips, and personalized itineraries, and in the recent context cancellation policy updates –travel and hospitality companies can proactively engage their customers by sending billions of push notifications, emails, in-app interstitials, and text messages.
Some of our clients in the travel and hospitality vertical include OYO Rooms, Travelodge, FabHotels, Luxstay, and Yatra.
JP: Many companies across travel and hospitality have been managing through a period of unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during this recent period and how have you helped clients manage through them?
RD: We have seen three overarching effects of the pandemic on the travel and hospitality landscape. First, there was a rapid decline in downloads and active users for over-the-air (OTA) and hospitality mobile apps, which only magnified as COVID-19 spread and lockdown protocols were enforced across the world.
Second is the change in consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic. For example, we’ve seen that more and more vacation travelers now prefer to travel by road instead of air, shifting the focus from international to domestic and closer-to-home destinations.
The third trend that’s emerged is “staycations.” With extended work-from-home options, we’ve seen consumers plan longer stays for their vacation while working remotely.
Travel and hospitality brands using MoEngage have quickly adapted to these changes in their business strategy and engagement strategies. Our platform supports these changing business and marketing needs by helping our clients communicate successfully and effectively at scale with their app and website users via multiple digital channels.
For example, when most countries had entered under lockdown, OYO, India’s fastest growing hotel chain, used MoEngage’s customer engagement platform to send daily newsletters to its customers with regular news updates on COVID-19. At a time when hotel bookings dropped to nearly zero, this engagement strategy helped OYO retain their pre-COVID daily active users (DAUs) and keep up the brand loyalty.
Another example is Jimmy Brings, an alcohol delivery service in Australia. At the beginning of the lockdown, the panic and uncertainty led to a shortage of toilet rolls. Being a customer-obsessed brand, Jimmy Brings wanted to help address this problem. They promised to deliver toilet rolls in under 30 minutes so the users did not have to risk stepping outside their homes.
Similar to AWS, our platform is agile, easy-to-use, and reduces the time needed for implementation. Using MoEngage, these brands have been able to swiftly communicate and implement these new strategies to the market helping them retain trust and also be able to serve their users’ changing needs.
JP: It’s been an incredibly difficult time for travel and hospitality companies, but we’ve seen many companies investing for the long run. With all the uncertainty, why has your company chosen to invest in travel and hospitality at this time?
RB: As countries start implementing and ending lockdowns in bursts, travelers will become more responsive to windows of opportunities, and the decision to travel will become more spontaneous with a narrower window to complete the bookings. Travel and hospitality brands need to prepare for these surges, making this the perfect time to invest in technology to better understand customer behavior and personalize offerings.
To succeed, travel brands will need to follow an insight-led engagement approach. Until recently, most marketers’ plan of engagement has been “plan, run, analyze, course-correct.” However, we now see many marketers flip the order of operations to “analyze, plan, run, measure, course-correct.”
More and more travel and hospitality brands leverage technology to understand the critical moments in their customer’s lifecycle. For example, identifying which of their customers have not completed their bookings, or what channels do their customers respond to the most. Brands using these insights are able to build a strategy that eliminates much of the trial and error and quickly weed out what’s working and what’s not.
The platform’s segmentation capabilities, combined with RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) models and funnel analytics, equip travel and hospitality brands with the right predictions to provide their customers a delightful experience. Many brands also leverage MoEngage’s AI and machine learning capabilities to build intelligent conversations and deliver the right message at the right time.
We believe that the travel and hospitality landscape is incredibly resilient, and solving the challenges they’re facing today will only result in this industry bouncing back stronger.
JP: In the face of the current disruption to the travel and hospitality industry, we’ve observed incredible innovations coming from across the industry. How has your company innovated through these challenging times on behalf of your customers and what are you most proud of?
RD: Given the changing trends in travel and hospitality, data-driven engagement will be critical for brands in this vertical. Analyzing behavior and looking at data is necessary to understand customers and engage them using contextual messages.
At MoEngage, we constantly work with brands to understand their evolving needs and build capabilities into our platform that solve these needs. We’ve been working on building products and capabilities that enable Travel and Hospitality brands to automate their data-driven engagement strategies.
For example, to encourage more data-driven decision making, we’ve included capabilities that enable travel brands to deep-dive into their user journeys and purchase funnels. And then, to help them communicate effectively with their customers, we’ve also added built-in templates and channel integrations which aim to shave off precious hours for travel and hospitality brands without compromising the customer’s experience. Our platform also comes with capabilities that can boost deliverability rates for email and push notifications that helps brands amplify their reach.
These are a few top-of-mind examples that I can share with you. Customer-obsessed brands place customers at the center of everything they do. At MoEngage, we aim to help these customer-centric companies make the right use of data and engage their users in the best way possible.
JP: The travel and hospitality industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward recovery, what role does technology play for your company moving forward? How do you see technology enhancing the customer experience and improving operational efficiency?
RD: Technology will continue to be the central part of our philosophy as a company. Machine learning and AI will continue to be our primary focus to ensure that our customers can fully understand their customers’ needs and promptly act on them.
Purchase cycles in the travel and hospitality industry have always been much shorter than other verticals. Added to this, the recent shift has shown that brands that aren’t “in-the-moment” with their users lose out on key sales opportunities.
The communication has to be relevant and as close to real time as possible. Doing this manually isn’t a viable option, especially when you’ve got millions of users using your mobile app and website. This is where technology steps in. Smart-triggers, our proprietary offering, enables travel and hospitality brands to leverage their customers’ behavior and send relevant and personalized messages in a small time-frame.
Most travel and hospitality brands using MoEngage are on the recovery trajectory. A decline in the pandemic severity across many regions combined with the availability of the vaccine, we expect further growth in the travel vertical. Our focus is to stand along-side travel and hospitality brands and help them along the path to bounce back and grow.
JP: How does building on AWS allow you to prepare for whatever the “new normal” in travel and hospitality will look like? How does the new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency help companies do the same?
RD: Our partnership with AWS is valuable both for us as well as our clients. AWS has helped us expand worldwide thanks to the secure data centers in global locations globally. This lets us cater to our clients across the globe who send billions of push notifications, emails, in-app interstitials, and text messages in vernacular languages daily through MoEngage.
Once lockdown restrictions are eased, there is going to be a surge in users for travel and hospitality mobile apps and websites. By implementing the AWS Well-Architectured Framework, we will be able to seamlessly allow travel and hospitality companies to analyze millions of data points without any latency or long waiting times. By making this process faster, we enable travel brands to run time-sensitive campaigns on a large scale promptly.
Lastly, we’ve also minimized the number of personnel required by leveraging AWS Managed Services, freeing up more time for our team to focus on priority tasks.
JP: What makes you excited for the future of travel and hospitality? As a traveler or guest, where are you looking forward to visiting next?
RD: I’m looking forward to seeing how quickly traveling behavior shifts back to the pre-pandemic days. Although I believe AR and VR will play a big role in the travel and hospitality industry in the near future, it cannot replace being physically present and interacting with lovely people from all over the world. I’m also really excited about the future of space travel and it becoming the norm in this decade.
I miss exploring new cultures, trying local cuisines, and observing the different remnants of our rich history up close. Although Paris is on my bucket list, we’ve recently expanded the MoEngage team across San Francisco, London, Berlin, Dubai, Bengaluru, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, and Bangkok. I’m looking forward to visiting these offices and catching up with the teams in person and I hope that’s soon.
Raviteja Dodda (Ravi) is the cofounder and CEO of MoEngage, an intelligent customer engagement platform, built for the user-obsessed marketer. Ravi has more than 10 years of experience in leading global teams and managing successful products. Prior to MoEngage, Ravi cofounded and built DelightCircle where he saw first-hand the challenges in retaining users and the need for a customer engagement platform. Ravi has been recognized in the BW Disrupt 40 under 40 and Forbes 30 under 30 for Asia.
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