Personalisation is a true buzzword in tourism. Valyn Perini, a contributor writer to Tnooz and chief executive of the Open Travel Alliance has recently picked up the personalisation topic and reflected on the issue of companies wanting to be personalised in everything they are doing in a quite interesting way. Valyn Perini defines personalisation traditionally as recognising frequent guests or even VIPs through providing them with a special status or ensuring that the entire experience the special guests or VIPs have are as personal as possible. Today, the term personalisation is not only relating to the experience itself, but all parts of digital marketing, from pre trip, to offers, advertising and even after a trip, the personalisation of reviews and offers that can be shared. This shows that personalisation has evolved to become a term with a much broader meaning (Tnooz 2013).
Times are changing - and especially for the tourism industry this is a very good sign. In the past, providing consumers with personalised communications was quite challenging for tourism businesses and destinations. Much of the data collected by hotels or other tourism businesses was previously quite fragmented and used mainly for operational purposes but not in view of marketing products or services to consumers. There has certainly been a change in the way in which data is used and utilised for personalisation purposes.
Now, things are quite different, as over the years, consumers did get more comfortable in providing and sharing personal data with organisations. Consumers are often actively sharing preferences with regards to communication, location and payment. As data is being stored and structured in a better way, it is also much easier for tourism businesses and destinations to access travellers data faster and cheaper. Big data is also contributing heavily to this mix, by providing even greater layers of data about a consumer which in turn also provides the traveller with more useful information that caters to all stages and aspects of the trip.
There are a couple of examples in the tourism industry that tackle the personalisation issue quite well. Olset is one of these examples, as the company works with hotels aiming to disrupt the online hotel booking process through the help of personalisation. This is quite interesting, as hotel rooms can be booked on the basis of hotel preferences through filters. As this process becomes more sophisticated, it moves from filter based personalisation to actual personalisation.
Checkmate is another mobile app that allows hotel guests to check in online which really replaces the front desk of any hotel. Personal request can be added to the app and hotels in turn can reply to these virtual requests and act on them. Although the app replaces any direct interaction with hotel staff, it can contribute to consumers having more personal experiences in hotels, as their special requests are known and hotels can cater to these prior to a consumer’s visit in the hotel.
Although these two examples do not necessarily present a revolutionary approach towards personalisation, these are still great examples and attempts to provide a solution for consumers wanting more personalised experience and tourism businesses having to cater to the need for greater personalisation in tourism.
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