How personalization can power growth in travel and hospitality
Anybody who knows me, knows I love cars. And the faster, louder, and more impractical, the better! Growing up, I enjoyed working on the cars I owned, trying to make them just a bit more powerful. However, my projects were mostly limited to bolt-ons or things I could do in my parents’ garage, like installing a new air intake. I didn’t have the tools or—who am I kidding?—the expertise for bigger jobs such as turbos or intercoolers.
That’s why I often called on experts for help with those big-ticket items. I wanted the power and speed those features offered. And for that, I needed the skill, workmanship, and trust that only an experienced shop could provide. Could I have figured it out on my own? Sure, if I had enough time, money, and tools. Would I have been scared that something would fall off while I was driving 100 miles an hour? Absolutely!
What does all this have to do with Amazon Web Services (AWS)? Well, our travel & hospitality customers also want power, speed, and agility—and they can get all those things in the cloud.
But should airlines, hotels, and travel agencies build solutions in the cloud on their own? Though some may decide to build their cloud infrastructure or applications from scratch, others will seek the help of cloud experts, like AWS and our Travel and Hospitality Competency Partners that offer market-proven solutions.
In a recent survey by AWS and industry analyst Skift, 83 percent of travel industry executives said they are interested in purchasing prepackaged cloud solutions because they believe they’re faster to implement and more cost effective. To meet that growing interest, AWS and our partners continue to invest in new solutions, services, and guidance that travel companies can use to compete better in their markets.
We’ve focused on five solution areas that we believe provide the most value to travel and hospitality companies: 1) retailing and personalization, 2) customer service, 3) connected experiences, 4) optimized operations, and 5) optimized IT.
In this blog—the first of a series highlighting these five solution areas—we’ll focus on how retailing and personalization can enhance the traveler and guest experience.
Retailing and personalization are top of mind for travel and hospitality leaders
According to Statistica, US travel companies spent over $3 billion on digital advertising in 2021, with marketing budgets making up as much as 12 percent of revenue. It’s no surprise, then, that travel executives in the Skift survey said that “improving marketing effectiveness” is one of their top goals. And over half of them said that delivering personalized products, services, and messaging to customers would have the biggest impact on achieving that goal.
But without knowing exactly who your customers are and how they interact with your brand, how can you offer meaningful personalization—products and messages that speak directly to their individual needs and preferences? Knowing your customers’ characteristics and behaviors is one of the keys to acquiring new customers, broadening sales with upselling and cross-selling, and keeping customers coming back for more.
Creating a unified view of the customer
Data lies at the heart of retailing and personalization. The challenge is: how do you get it, clean it, and keep it up to date? To start, you’ll likely need to ingest and store all the data you collect from first-, second-, or third-party data sources. For those looking to build a data platform, the AWS Travel & Hospitality Solution Library provides guidance for airline or lodging data solutions and a list of Travel and Hospitality Competency Partners that can help.
After pulling your data together, you still need to make sure it’s clean—meaning accurate, complete, and deduplicated—in order to produce a unified profile for each customer, which is essential for effective marketing communications and targeting.
This is where master data management (MDM) comes in. MDM solutions help you know exactly who your customer is, even if they have multiple profiles. This can easily happen when they misspell their names, use initials instead of full names, and generally provide inconsistent personal information. Those looking to untangle the naming mess can build an MDM solution using AWS services or buy a solution from companies like Reltio.
Another option is to generate a unified view of the traveler is a customer data platform, or CDP, with built-in identity resolution to help you clean your customer profile data. CDPs are complex, so we recommend buying purpose-built solutions, such as those from Amperity, Tealium, or mParticle, that can help you pull data from multiple sources, then clean and combine it to create an accurate customer profile. You can share the data with other systems to personalize your marketing campaigns, customer service operations, and other customer experience programs.
- The Amperity Customer Data Platform offers AI-powered identify resolution, simple data ingestion and aggregation, and predictive customer and product metrics and insights.
- The Tealium Customer Data Hub encompasses tag management, an API hub, a CDP with ML, and data management solutions that make customer data more valuable, actionable, and secure.
- mParticle is a CDP that simplifies how you collect and connect your user data to hundreds of vendors without needing to manage multiple integrations.
Personalizing the travel experience
It hasn’t always been simple for travel and hospitality companies to personalize their products and offers. Many have been saddled with inefficient legacy systems and siloed data stores, making it hard for them to target individual customers with value-added services like attribute-based pricing, bundled packages, and other deals. When you’ve created a unified view of your customer in the cloud, however, you can start to take advantage of powerful personalization strategies.
Using a solution like Braze—a customer engagement platform built on AWS—you can provide personalized, relevant, and timely digital interactions based on detailed guest behavior data. For example, you can integrate Braze into a hotel booking engine to generate personalized welcome messages to arriving guests, send regrets to someone who abandons their reservation, and send push notifications to customers announcing relevant offers. All of these personalization approaches can lead to higher conversion rates, more upsells, and a boost in sales.
AWS also offers a variety of AI and ML services and guidance to help travel companies tailor products and offers to their customers. For example, Amazon Personalize helps developers build applications with the same ML technology used by Amazon.com to give website visitors real-time personalized buying recommendations.
Traveloka improves engagement with Amazon Personalize
One AWS customer that is successfully innovating its retailing and personalization strategy is Traveloka. Amazon Personalize is helping users of Traveloka, a Southeast Asia-based lifestyle app, quickly discover and purchase a wide range of travel, financial, and other products and services. After experimenting with several technologies, the company adopted Amazon Personalize to recommend inventory to the users of its mobile-friendly Xperience app for lifestyle-focused services. The result: Amazon Personalize delivered 13 percent better click-through rates compared with other third-party models and a 66 percent higher click-through rate than existing in-house models. It has since expanded the use of Amazon Personalize to deliver personalized recommendations for more products and services, such as flights and hotels.
To learn more about how travel and hospitality companies are using personalization to drive customer engagement, visit aws.com/travel. Or, if you’re seeking an AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner, a partner solution, or help to build your own solution, visit the retail and personalization pages in the Travel & Hospitality Solutions Library.