Welcome to the age of personalisation

Upon checking in at an airport, many passengers are likely to peruse duty free and visit a coffee shop or restaurant in the airport. Perhaps a customer will stop at their preferred coffee shop and use their loyalty card when purchasing a coffee. Their details, including name and email address, appear on the payment screen enabling the barista to personally thank them and let them know how many more points they need to collect until they receive a free coffee.

Welcome to the age of personalisation

The reality today for many companies in the travel industry is that they now have the ability to capture enough data to be able to build an enriched 360 degree customer view, by detecting and interpreting the digital body language of travelers.

For example, let’s imagine that a traveler is just short of the top tier on their airline loyalty scheme. The airline takes note of these and informs them that that by paying for an upgrade for their next flight, the extra cost of the upgrade would allow them access to the airline lounge for the next year – perhaps the traveler would be enticed to take this upgrade. The airline then recognises that the traveler requires gluten-free meals, and so offers them a discount on the gluten-free diet. The traveler is impressed by this offer and pre-books their flight. On arrival at the airport, the traveler visits the car rental desk, which sees that this traveler is now a member of the top tier of the loyalty scheme on their partner airline and so offers them their car of choice. So far, a great start to the trip.

When a company can engage customers with the right information and offers, at the right time, on the right device, it enables seamless commerce whilst creating a community of advocates. To accomplish that, companies need to deliver personalisation across the entire purchasing journey.

How do companies achieve this?

Firstly, they need to ensure that they build an enriched and detailed view of the customer - including their likes and dislikes - in order to form an accurate idea of the customer make-up. This can be achieved by gathering all the available data and will help to form a frame of context for each customer.

Next, the business can employ analytical tools in order to develop an idea of what content will be appropriate and of interest to each type of customer-make up.

Once this has been established, various cogs in the business can work in tandem to deliver the most relevant, personalised offers to the customer, at the optimal time.

With all this in mind, businesses need to ensure they establish a set of rules as to how customer data will be used. At this stage, factors including privacy and customer transparency must be considered.

Considering the abundance of digital data streams available to today’s businesses, and the analytical models capable of finely segmenting the customers within those data streams, personalisation is no longer a 'wishlist' item for modern businesses ― it’s an imperative. Building trust is the next big challenge – if companies within the travel industry use the data they collect to benefit customers, then they cannot make this publically available without compromising the trust of their customer base. A business that can master a balance between data privacy and convenience for customers will be the real winner.

Debjyoti Paul, AVP of Digital Business at Mindtree