Travel firms need to see the benefits of experimentation

This is a viewpoint from Marie Despringhere, country manager UK at Optimizely.

Today’s ‘always on’ traveller expects a hyper-personalised package of products and services, forcing companies in the highly competitive travel industry to find new ways to gain attention and sell their services.

Travel companies must deeply understand consumer preferences and adapt their offers to individual needs. It is well known that personalised suggestions, pricing and exclusive offers are extremely valued by customers and can be a key competitive advantage. But how can travel companies make sure they are getting it right?

The culture of experimentation

The exponential rise of data has changed the face of the travel industry, bringing about an entirely new world of insights and information. Processing that data correctly allows travel companies not only to measure the value of their services and products but also, and more importantly, to meticulously analyse the information and develop new impactful customer experiences which leads to increased commerce growth.

A recent study, Adoption Experimentation in the Travel Industry, conducted by Optimizely, Digital Travel Summit, and WBR Travel surveyed 90+ executives at leading travel companies, which explored the impact of experimentation on the travel industry. The study found that 62% of travel companies attribute up to 10% of their commercial growth to their investments in testing and experimentation. One-in-five travel companies attribute even more.

Experimentation is proving a successful method for travel companies to improve the customer experience – from product offering, to marketing campaigns and exclusive services. This shift is enabling travel businesses to understand the impact of changes on conversions and revenue, and make it possible to deliver a more tailored traveller experience.

Experiment to thrive

Today’s travellers wish to be involved in a seamless experience, engaging with the travel organiser from the moment they start planning a trip and searching for a deal, until the moment they return home and talk with their peers about the experience. This is where experimentation can add real value, providing useful data across the entire customer journey that can be used to develop cutting-edge products and services.

The study found that more than half of travel companies (59%) report implementing 1% to 20% of their winning tests, while 28% of travel companies report implementing 20% or more. While more travel companies are putting budget behind experimentation, there is a lack of knowledge around where best to apply testing across customers, markets and segments, which is key to how organisations create a successful culture of experimentation.

Therefore, a substantial majority of travel companies earmark a significant portion of their digital investment for experimentation. Most travel companies (61%) earmark between 1 and 10% of their online budget. Nearly one-in-five allocate 10 – 20% of their budget.

The future is now

Experimentation offers great potential to companies as it can have a significant positive impact on the business. Companies who rely on personalisation are believed to generate 20% more revenue than those who don’t use this method.

Travel companies must bring together their expertise about their customers, and then apply new experimentation techniques to deliver a personalised customer experience with a clear benefit to their ultimate business strategy. As the challenges in the industry become more demanding than ever, companies with disruptive ideas are the ones who will define the future travel experience.

This is a viewpoint by Marie Despringhere , country manager UK for Optimizely.

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