From the days of the independent travel agent with their Rolodex of client details to the inception of the first airline loyalty card, it’s been clear that customer data is central to travel marketing success. Understanding customers’ purchasing patterns enables brands to create a picture of their preferences and target offers to them, thereby (hopefully) increasing their customer lifetime value.
However, traditional data-led marketing of this sort has its limitations. The airline may understand what flights a person took to get to a destination, but it doesn't know where they stayed. A car-hire company may understand the type of vehicle a person rented, but it doesn't necessarily know what sort of hotel they then stayed in. Siloed data has traditionally given travel brands a narrow view of their clients, with limited – and often ineffective – ways to measure success. Combined, this can lead to poor marketing decisions.
For example, a car-hire company may assume that people who rent a basic saloon are low-value customers. But perhaps there’s a group of people who make that decision because they’re traveling alone. Maybe next time they’d be traveling with their family and would rent a luxury 4x4. With the incomplete data that the company has, it could never target the marketing for this group of people correctly and therefore might lose that sale.
The solution to this challenge lies in cooperation. If the car rental business could share data with other travel companies, then it might find out that the people in question fly business class and stay in luxury hotels, and that might give it a better indication of the travelers’ real purchasing habits.
Getting this cross-industry overview has become essential and has given rise to Adara, the world’s travel data co-op. We’ve forged partnerships with more than 175 of the world’s top travel brands to enable secure, controlled and anonymous sharing of traveler data in real time, enabling travel brands to connect travelers’ actions, behaviors and purchases, and thus target them more effectively.
To extend the narrative above, using this shared data asset, the travelers in question could be presented with special deals on business-class flights when they start their airline searches; they could be served with an offer on a luxury hotel on the confirmation screen of their flight booking; and then they could be targeted with personalized display advertising for luxury car rental once they’d booked their hotel.
At each stage of this journey – created, targeted and validated by access to data from the co-op – each brand has benefited and the customer has enjoyed a more personalized experience from the vendors that they’ve used.
Now some might argue that this level of data insight could be accessible through cookies or third-party data, but this ignores the power of the data co-operative approach. First-party transactional search and booking data is the only way that marketers can gain real insight into a customer’s real intentions and purchase habits. Furthermore, it is only through using a co-operative data approach that marketers can gather enough insight into their customers to map their campaigns back to true, brand-specific marketing objectives. A co-operative data approach also enables marketers to abandon simplistic marketing measures like click-throughs in favor of those more focused on business value.
The future for this co-operative approach is clear. By enabling companies to leverage data from across the travel ecosystem and bring it together to create personalized marketing based on real behavior, the travel industry is moving ever closer to true, people-based marketing.
With appropriate security and permissions, targeting will be enabled not just on assumptions made from specific online behaviors, but on detailed insight into individual’s actions. With this level of insight, targeting becomes not just targeted but personalized. With a co-operative approach, predictive marketing isn’t just based on broad assumptions generated from sample groups, it becomes based on a sample of one – a uniquely powerful method.
The co-operative approach has its challenges for brands. It asks them to cooperate with other brands in a way that may be foreign to them, and it asks them to look beyond the boundaries of their own sub-segment of the travel space. However, once these barriers have been surmounted it can provide real value, drive fresh growth and enhance the customer experience in a totally new way.
David Morrow, Vice President, Global Marketing, Adara.