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Personalization is the best way to engage your audience. Data can improve the relevance of your messaging. Does this sound familiar?
For many travel marketers, while the writing is on the wall that personalization is important, the path to getting there is still unclear. There is no giant marketing technology stack or data science team to jumpstart a program. From major theme park chains to local tourism destinations, every travel marketer has a unique challenge. Teams are often dealing with fewer resources and isolation from regional partners that may have most of the traveler data that they need.
The problem is pervasive across the travel industry. A report from Skift and Adobe found that only 38% of travel companies would rate their ability to personalize at four or five stars out of five. For years, travel marketers have lagged behind the trend to prioritize data-driven marketing, but there is good reason to start to prioritize it. Not only does personalization give marketers better results, people actually prefer it. Accenture found that two thirds of consumers want travel companies to provide personalized messages.
The key is not to bite off more than you can chew. The easiest way to get discouraged is to take on a project that is not just unlikely to succeed, but that might never actually reach completion. Instead, taking a more considered approach will create small victories that will in time add up to a healthy data-driven marketing program, complete with personalization and strategic insights.
A good data-driven marketing program executes well in three categories:
Personalization. Marketers need to use data to improve the relevance of their messaging with their audience. If they have the data and the measurement in place, they can launch a personalization strategy that they can then improve upon over time.
Access to data. Marketers must have a database with relevant, recent data about their target audience that can help paint a picture of consumer elements such as preferences, and recent travel behaviors.
Measurable KPIs. Marketers must put in place the ability to measure the effectiveness of their marketing against their goals using data. For example, understanding if their message is resonating with their target audience, or understanding which channel is driving the highest conversion rates.
A travel marketer likely doesn’t have the ability to overhaul all of these elements of their program at once, although all three are important. Rather, they should take a step-by-step approach based on removing bottlenecks. Let’s look at three examples bottlenecks, one for each category.
Personalization. If a destination hasn’t connected their data to their messaging, either because their software is outdated, or they haven’t prioritized an integration, there are many solutions in place to help that doesn’t require a technology overhaul. Smaller plugins can help use website and search data to create marketing campaigns. Partners can discuss creative integration solutions to get data where it needs to go. And personalization doesn’t require “big data” inputs to be successful. Even a small insight such as location or a recent search can do wonders to a messaging strategy.
Data. Some regional tourism marketers have access to data from the destinations within their market, such as hotel booking data, restaurant reservations or ticket sales for a local sports arena, but the challenge comes with making that data meaningful. In other cases, they might receive data in a flat file that is outdated and difficult to activate. Marketers can focus on this one bottleneck of “not enough relevant data” and seek out partnerships or solutions that can solve that one problem.
KPI Measurement. With marketing spend across outdoor, digital, print and other channels, many marketers get frustrated trying to measure the true value of their campaigns. Many partners such as agencies or even ADARA can help create a customized model that suits a travel marketer’s unique needs. All of a client’s data doesn’t need to be in place to start to get directional value from a new measurement approach.
Every travel marketer has the chance to significantly increase their relevance and understanding of their business by focusing on data, KPIs and personalization. Rather than getting overwhelmed by the enterprise-level approach taken by global brands, taking one step at a time to remove bottlenecks will not only provide immediate improvements, but a path forward to future growth.