Insights from mining Big Data will also drive personalization efforts. After all, Big Brother is watching consumers’ online behaviors. They know where and how you surf.
Speaking at a J.P. Morgan technology conference in May, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer explained how the company wants its customers to book tours well in advance, but can tailor offerings to them later in the process because TripAdvisor knows where they are traveling and when.
“None of that changes overnight,” Kaufer said, referring to traveler procrastination in booking tours and activities, “but let’s remember some of the assets that TripAdvisor has to play with. I have you, even if I don’t know who you are. I have you cookies on your computer looking at a hotel for this particular date range in that destination.”
Customers may see targeted ads on TripAdvisor or around the web, and the company can then “make sure you get this awesome three-day excursion from wherever you are, and make sure you get this limited-time available tour of the Vatican if you’re going there,” Kaufer said.
On the tours and activities front, Airbnb and Marriott are also taking steps to try to personalize their offerings.
“Whether it’s a stay in someone’s Airstream along the coast of California or an Experience to learn how to make pasta with an Italian grandmother, when guests visit Airbnb, it’s no longer about just booking a home or experience, but curating the perfect end-to-end trip,” said Riccardo Ulivi, head of North America Experiences for Airbnb. “This is where personalization comes in.”
So when it comes to personalization, how will hotels, hotel alternatives, and online travel players differentiate their offerings? As it goes in a lot of things, the advantage will go to the scale players that have huge data sets to work with and the tech resources to turn them into more personalized offerings to travelers — if that’s what their customers really want, that is.