Skift Take

The digital transformation of hospitality and travel is underway, and it mirrors the changes most brands and consumers now see across the broader business ecosystem.

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Data and analytics are enabling new marketing and transactional experiences, empowering employees both on-site and behind the scenes, and improving the bottom line for organizations.

In the travel industry, hospitality and other verticals can now blend in-person and digital outreach in ways never before possible. The connected journey, rich with right-time and right-place mobile offers, means a more personalized kind of attention. And whether that happens at the terminal gate, at the check-in desk, or at a point of sale in-destination, for travelers and travel companies, the end result is a loyalty-promoting win.

In this series, we’ve considered the evolution of the travel space as a digitally empowered environment. Now, in the following sections, we summarize what we’ve discovered and we turn to what the future holds for tech-savvy leaders within the travel space.

Lessons in Data: Traveler–Brand Experiences that Resonate

Successfully leveraging data and making meaningful connections with digital-first travelers isn’t just a marketing moment. It’s an on-site, operations-forward opportunity, and one that can reshape the very relationships that mean the most to both brands and their customers.

● In this series, for example, we saw how Virgin Atlantic is building virtual-reality options for consumers to fully experience the kind of travel ecosystem the organization thinks its customers ought to enjoy.

● We also saw how technology is putting a spotlight on customer relationships at dining destinations, where point of sales systems now move with the server, allowing for immersive table-side experiences and responsive order-to-table dynamics for the entire dining operation.

● Putting mobile and data-fueled solutions in the hands of travel operations isn’t confined to sales alone, we discovered. At Citizen M hotels, implementation ranges from check-in to housekeeping — an integrated and dashboard-augmented system that makes ops a more streamlined and effective system overall.

● Additionally, when travel links ops to data, marketing thrives. That’s what Holland America is learning as it takes its cruise-ship environments into the data analytics space and identifies all the best ways to showcase the most desirable features of the line’s packages to future travelers. Their own travelers are teaching them those lessons. Their forward-thinking teams are deploying the information to drive returns.

The Future of Data and Travel is a Loyalty-Growth Scenario

When we look at the on-site and in-the-moment potential of data, digital technology, and the modern traveler, it’s intuitive for marketing and ops to start with cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. But the future of hospitality’s growth in the digital space is importantly linked to another aspect of the brand–consumer relationship as well — the loyalty factor.

Case in point, when Finnair is able to solve rerouting challenges in proactive ways, using data to prepare its staff with up-to-the moment information and actionable plans — having these “ready for passengers when they step off a flight” as Kari Hänninen, Corporate Information Management architect for the airline, puts it — then travelers walk away from what could be negative experiences with a different takeaway. They feel cared-for and ready to trust Finnair going forward. That’s a powerful driver when it comes to repeat business and positive revenue.

Our takeaway is the following: the digital traveler is empowered to act independently, and the digitally empowered travel representative is similarly capable of meeting that consumer at the exact moments they need assistance, and in the best ways. As the future of travel and digital technology unfold, both sides of the equation will continue to develop. New possibilities will be introduced. New expectations around data and analytics will emerge.

A key strategy for the travel industry to keep in mind?

● Keep pace with changing digital tools and platforms.

● Forge technology partnerships when internal resources are unavailable or insufficient.

● Remember the key experiences inherent to all the examples in this series. They all involve the power of new data and digital tech as elements deeply linked to the underlying principle of all successful transactions: consumers want personalized, prompt, accurate, and effective response from their brands of choice.

Meanwhile, if you missed a chapter in our journey into digital technology, data, and travel, catch up on all the installments of this series:
Hospitality Reenvisioned Through Data and Mobile
Connected Hospitality: Data Drives Actionable Moments for Travel Ops and Marketing
Data and Analytics are Defining the Future of Hotel Employee-Guest Relations

Smart travel brands will lean-in to these examples, creating their own successful case studies out of data-rich customer understandings, plus relevant and personalized interactions, along with responsive and empowered employees. The future of travel is there for the taking. Digitally savvy brands will be first in line to seize the opportunities.

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor Microsoft.

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Tags: citizenm, finnair, holland america, hotels, virgin atlantic

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