Damon Mangos discusses the importance of personalised marketing in the travel sectorSocial media bloggers, sharing new destinations and travel experiences with their fans, are now at the forefront of transforming the travel sector. While some travel brands have started to work with this growing breed of social media influencers, others are beginning to identify alternative approaches to raise brand awareness, engage mass audiences socially on a much larger scale and enhance the overall customer experience.
Creating a personalised experience is now something widely recognised as imperative to starting conversations with customers and sits at the heart of successful travel initiatives and campaigns.
Expedia's 'Travel Yourself Interesting' campaign is one example of a brand that's recognised the power social media has on audience engagement and business performance. Giving users the ability to create a personalised visually-rich infographic profile, which they can then share with their friends, inspires both new travel conversations and reminds users of memories created, whilst encapsulating the brand's purpose. In addition, the introduction of the personalised tool, crafted to each individual, helps the brand to understand its potential customers in a better way. It can use it to collect data, which it can then use in targeted marketing, helping the overall business and showcasing the true potential that social activations can have. Expedia isn't the only company employing this technique. Qatar Airways, the Australian Travel Company and Airbnb have all introduced personalised campaigns in the past 12 months. As part of its 'Fly Your Own Way' campaign, Qatar Airways encouraged users to create a personalised boarding pass, reflecting where and how they like to travel, while the Australian Travel Company invites users to create and share content based on their wanderlust inspirations. These campaigns clearly show how individualisation is being used to drive effective campaigns that help the business with data, sales and customer engagement, and the trend shows no sign of abating. In fact, just this month Airbnb has launched a global personalisation campaign, 'Live There', designed to open up the local neighbourhoods for travellers to experience, complete with insider knowledge and tips.
The challenge with personalisation of this nature, however, is that it's often a complicated process to capture the required data. If the process is too complex for the user, it's likely they'll become disengaged and the creative idea, although good in theory, will fall short when it's put into practise. The experience must therefore be designed with the customer at the forefront, and ways must be found that distil complicated processes into a fun and simplified user journey. The ultimate goal has to be to create the end product, whether it's an infographic or boarding pass, with a few simple clicks.
Of course, this requires a level of investment from travel companies to ensure the technology they have is fully functional, mobile optimised, and able to work across multiple territories to reach the maximum amount of people. Designing a concept that has a viral mechanic at the heart of the creative will only be effective if the experience is simple and easy to use - encouraging and incentivising people to complete and share worldwide.
The creative idea is only the first in a long step of processes that travel companies must take if they're to truly see any value on business performance. Only those ideas that are fully thought out on a strategic level and have clear benefits for the overall business in the boardroom will be ones worth investing time into. Social activation has huge benefits - the Expedia campaign saw 15,500 users create a travel profile in eight weeks - but if there aren't any processes in place to move the campaign on to one that has true benefits for the overall business, it's missing a huge opportunity.
See more case studies of Delete's work with Expedia