How to Target the Right Consumers with the Right Deals, At the Right Time

By Mark Simpson President & Founder, Maxymiser | February 03, 2013

Customer demands have changed. Customer experience is more important than ever. And more than any other industry, the travel industry is primed to provide the best online, personalized experience out there. But what does "personalization" really mean? As trendy catchwords go, "personalization" has become a go-to term for websites and online marketers, laden with all the possibilities of connecting with individual consumers and a departure from the limitations of one-size-fits-all.

Personalization is no longer a trend-it's a must have, an expectation. With multiple devices, channels and on-the-go messages, consumers don't just want tailored offers and experiences-they need them.

The first step to getting here is to ask yourself: what are my business goals? Which kind of personalization program will be most effective in helping me achieve these? Only when you know what you want to accomplish will you be able to identify the right combination of technology, tools and strategy for your website. But getting visitors to book more trips, extend their trips, book more expensive trips, add items to enhance or expand their trip-insurance, tickets, car rental, etc. requires a few steps to provide the right offers at the right time.

1. Harness the power of Big Data

The phenomenon of Big Data comes with both opportunity and sacrifice. On one hand, travel brands that make sense of Big Data will be able drive more effective customer decisions based on evidence, rather than guesswork-giving them a distinct advantage over the competition in a fiercely competitive marketplace. On the other, Big Data can also be problematic largely in part because bringing together large amounts of information, from a variety of sources, is no small feat.

The good news is that online travel executives can be masters of their own destiny and avoid drowning in the sea of opportunity that Big Data offers. But getting started with Big Data, organizing your teams, and knowing which capabilities to acquire and what Big Data success looks like are crucial to meeting this goal.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.