Personalised marketing means more than just addressing the customer by name.

For brands in the travel and hospitality industry, effective personalisation can range from interactive content to targeted banners and customised travel itineraries.

With 86% of travellers now reported to value personalised offers, it’s becoming more of an expectation than an extra for the majority of consumers. Of course, capturing customer data is not always an easy task, and in order to provide a fair trade-off the end result must outweigh any potential privacy concerns. So, are brands stepping up to the plate? Here are a few examples of brands effectively implementing personalisation in a variety of different ways.

1. KLM 

KLM is a travel brand that demonstrates personalisation across much of its digital marketing activity. For example, it uses personalised emails to retarget customers that abandon carts online, allowing them to carry on the user journey from where they left off.

One of its most innovative displays of personalisation has been iFly 50 – an interactive anniversary edition of its brand magazine. While iFly usually offers inspirational stories, reviews, and general travel tips, the 50 edition allowed readers the chance to pick their five favourite destinations for the chance to win the trip of a lifetime.

Competition in KLM's iFly 50 interactive magazine

Combining stunning imagery with an interactive user experience, it’s a slick example of how to personalise content marketing. By giving the reader a reason to interact with the brand (instead of passively scrolling) – it meant people would be more likely to invest and engage.

By asking users to enter their email address and to opt into the iFly newsletter, it also meant KLM could follow-up with targeted marketing messages related to the destinations chosen.

One of the top 50 destinations showcased in the iFly 50 interactive magazine

2. Delta Flights 

Personalisation does not only extend to digital marketing. Many airlines are now taking steps to personalise the in-flight experience, with brands like Delta using this strategy to reward and engage its most loyal customers.

Delta has recently re-launched its Guest Service Tool – a handheld device that allows flight attendants to access detailed information about passengers. For example, it can enable staff to find out whether passengers are frequent flyers or identify those who might need special assistance. 

Delta describes the tool as a way to ‘bring humanity back to flying’, however, the brand has also emphasised its dedication to customer privacy.

This is because, naturally, this kind of data usage prompts the question: Will customers feel comfortable with their data being used in this way? Unlike examples of digital or online personalisation – where customers often opt-in or are typically made aware of data usage – many customers might be totally unaware that flight attendants have such detailed information about them.

It'll be interesting to see how the tool fares (it is currently in soft launch). But regardless, it undoubtedly shows how airlines are increasingly concentrating on in-flight personalisation. We've already seen other brands, like Singapore Airlines, introduce options for customised meals. Meanwhile, KLM has also introduced a ‘Meet and seat’ feature to allow passengers to see who is sitting where.

3. Best Western 

Hotels might naturally need to encourage loyalty more than airlines - with greater competition for repeat bookings. Best Western wanted to personalise its emails in order to better engage both new and former customers.

More specifically, the brand aimed to increase the number of downloads of its mobile app. In order to do so, it concentrated on the recipients' device and location.

Firstly, by identifying the device used to open the email, it was able to alter its message accordingly. This meant that people using an Apple device were automatically directed to the Apple app store, while Android users were sent to the Google Play store. This removed any friction in the user journey, encouraging users to download the app without having to locate the correct link themselves.

Meanwhile, Best Western used geo-targeting to send specific and relevant offers based on the user’s location. For example, it served different recommended destinations according to whether someone opened the email in New York City or Los Angeles.

Both strategies proved to be effective. The hotel chain saw a 143% uplift in downloads of its app compared to similar campaigns. Similarly, there was a 10% increase in email click-through rates by non-rewards members.

A Best Western mobile email when opened on an iPhone, note the App Store specific download message

This example shows that personalisation can be valuable even if the consumer does not realise it is happening. In this instance, email recipients would have been unaware that the message was contextual, yet without it, they might have reacted differently.

4. Virgin Hotels 

Virgin Hotels Chicago is another hotel that focuses on personalisation, with the brand using mobile technology to enhance the customer’s experience throughout their stay.

According to research, 40% of travellers remain connected via their smartphones while on holiday, with 29% using it to stay in touch with loved ones and 24% using it to find out information about the local area.

On this basis, Virgin wanted to create a platform that would allow guests to customise their hotel experience via their existing device. The result was 'Lucy' – a mobile app that would allow guests to do things like adjust the temperature in their room, stream content on hotel TVs, make external dining reservations, and so on. 

Instead of a typical rewards program, Virgin Hotels also launched ‘The Know’ – a preference program designed to create exceptional experiences. By filling in a questionnaire online, guests can choose what they’d like in their mini bar, discuss allergies, and even select a cocktail that will be waiting on arrival.

This type of personalisation is hard to beat – and it means that hotel brands are able to compete with the intimate experience offered by the likes of Airbnb. By treating guests as individuals rather than a homogenous group, it also means customers are far more likely to return in future.

5. Iberia Airlines

Last Christmas, Iberia Airlines experimented with a highly personalised campaign, geared around individuals and their dream holidays.

The Spanish airline sent emails to customers asking a few questions about their perfect trip – including things like where they would like to travel to and who their ideal travel partner would be. It then sent emails to whoever they’d cited as a travel companion to let them know a special holiday card had been created with them in mind.

If the recipient clicked on the link (and accepted cookies in the process), they’d then see targeted banners and ads that prompted them to buy the perfect Christmas gift for their friend. See examples below.

While it might be unlikely that many people went on to purchase the ‘dream holiday’, Iberia’s campaign is still a good example of how to target offers to individuals. Instead of taking a blanket approach, it ensured that its message would resonate with both the original recipient of the email and the person it was then sent to.

By asking emotive questions based on personal desires, Iberia instantly created a more meaningful connection with individuals, promoting the idea that the brand truly cares about its customers.

The campaign is also a good example of how to effectively use cookies. Most importantly, Iberia offered transparency - making clear that users need to accept cookie data to view the card – which ensured that they would not be surprised or put-off by the subsequent re-targeting.

6. Expedia 

Finally, while personalisation can be effective during active processes like researching, booking, and travelling - Expedia’s 2014 campaign shows that it can also be a way to drive social engagement.

For its ‘Travel Yourself Interesting’ campaign, Expedia gave Facebook users the chance to create a unique infographic based on their own travel experiences, including information such as ‘total miles travelled’ and ‘number of countries visited’. The campaign followed on from a previous example that allowed users to create messages from luggage tags.

Capitalising on the idea that social media is a place where people naturally talk about the subject of travel (as well as partake in a little bragging) – Expedia created a campaign that was highly engaging for Facebook users.

With over 15,500 people creating their travel profile in eight countries, the results speak for themselves. For Expedia, it was a chance to capture unique social data, which helped the brand to better understand its customers and inform re-targeted advertising.

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Nikki Gilliland

Published 7 July, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Audrey Zack, Marketing Professional at MobiCommerce

Thanks Nikki for sharing your thoughts on personalized marketing. The only thing count in the era of the digital world is customer experience. How you represent your products and services to the consumers that matter. These 6 brands did it well.

5 months ago

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