Eye for Travel Chicago 2019: Key Takeaways

Last week, the Swrve team traveled to Chicago for the Eye-for-Travel North America conference.

Hundreds of vendors, agencies, and platforms showcased the latest trends, strategies, and technologies developed to help brands in the travel industry elevate their customer experiences. It was a great indication of the new ways brands in travel are creating personalized experiences that will deliver—and exceed—their growth goal over the next 12 to 24 months. 

Our team of customer engagement experts had great discussions with marketers, customer experience mavens, and data analysts on how brands can elevate their travelers’ experiences with real-time relevance. And though the weather left much to be desired (a cool 30 degree temperature with a misty, but relentless rain), it left our team in peace to focus in on the expert speaking sessions, valuable insights, and invigorating discussions that permeated the 2 day conference. While on the ground, we were able to make some  interesting observations—not all of which will be a complete surprise to savvy marketers in travel and hospitality out there. 

From venture firms speculating on investing in robots to work in airports, to how the travel experience cuts across airports and airlines, and crucially to how traditional brand loyalty has changed. Each conversation we had, though different, could all be aligned with on bigger idea of what the ‘travel experience’ looks like, and how brands can create the best possible experience for their customers. 

Here are a few common themes that were present in our discussions on elevating customer experiences in the travelers industry.

Personalization Done Right Can Increase Loyalty

Personalization and how travel brands use it to create valuable experiences for their travelers was one of the most talked about topics at the conference. But the line between using data to provide a valuable, convenient service and overusing that data to the point where the traveler feels like their data has been abused is thin. Our discussions came back to two simple questions. The first was, can you provide value? And the second, can you give your consumers more control over their experiences?

Done right, personalization is a fair trade that brands speculated many travelers would be willing to make. However, if it doesn’t provide value to the customer, then it is a breach of trust that has adverse impact on your brand and customer loyalty. And when the average household is loyal to 30 plus loyalty programs, the onus is on the brands to use personalization to increase customer value, which will in turn spark loyalty.

Personalized Unbundling is the Path to Leading Customer Experiences

We’re not far from the time when package deals, bundles, and other convenient upsells were the bread and butter of airlines, travel agencies, and hospitality brands. But as personalization grows, it becomes more necessary to cater to the individual user experience, rather than trying to make generic bundles applicable to a mass audience. The brand that supports consumers’ individual brand experience is the brand that wins loyalty, and increase customer LTV. 

The flip side of this is when brands offer endless choice to consumers, how do they avoid the inevitable feeling of brand-fatigue when faced with buying every small part of their package separately? And will consumers get to a stage of overwhelm during the buying process and simply want to get it over with? Or worse, abandon the purchase (and the brand) altogether?

This is where personalization can help bundling. By delivering the right options to the right customer at the right time, brands will open the door to elevated customer experiences that bring value to both the brand and customer. But as discussed above, it’s a fine line between winning and losing. 

AI is the Facilitator of Personalization to Increase Customer LTV

Another topic heavily discussed was the impact of AI and machine learning as the facilitator of personalization and unbundling strategies to elevate customer experiences for brands in travel and hospitality. Our team on the ground had numerous discussions on what to plan for in the next 24 months, and speculated as to what is on the 10 year horizon. The question that permeated each discussion was how can brands act on all the data collected from travelers in a meaningful way to elevate personalization in the traveler experience? While there was no common consensus, there was a lot of optimism and hope for what can be achieved over the next number of months and years. Whether that be delivering personalized content, responding to needs in the moment, helping you connect on a flight, or get the perfect table in a restaurant…all the conversations we had led back to creating great experiences.

Swrve works with some of the world’s biggest brands in the travel industry to keep passengers engaged, informed, and delighted across their journeys. Swrve helps brands act on their customer data to create campaigns that are elevated with real-time relevance and deliver measurable value for both brand and customer. Read our eBook: Expert Multichannel Marketing Strategies for the Travel Industry to see the tried-and-tested ways you can maximize your campaigns this quarter. 

Swrve customer engagement experts will be on the ground at Eye-for-Travel Europe in Amsterdam on November 26th and 27th. Are you going? Book a meeting with us here

For more information on how Swrve can advance engagement for global teams, join a live demo today.