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Amazon is the king of personalisation and companies have invested fortunes to keep up. So BBT asked buyers and suppliers why it’s important to personalise your travel management processes...
MARK ZIEGLER, global travel manager, Net App
Today’s traveller-centric shift, from the traditional travel management company (TMC)-based profiles to a more direct one-to-one relationship between traveller and supplier, creates a new set of problems. The most prevalent profile configuration has been the TMC/global distribution system (GDS)-based profile for a long time. With suppliers luring travellers to their own sites instead of the GDS-based site, the traveller is forced to either create profiles on every site or dedicate most, if not all, of their travel to only a handful of suppliers.
Having profiles on potentially dozens of sites creates a very real danger of getting hacked. The risk of the traveller having their personal data in numerous profiles causes the risk of compromise to grow exponentially. There still needs to be a single source of private data for the traveller, which doesn’t spread their personal information all over the web. The GDS model continues to provide a more convenient and, hopefully, safer depository for traveller profiles.
IAN HEYWOOD, global head of product and marketing, Travelport
LIKE ALL CONSUMERS, BUSINESS TRAVELLERS NOW HAVE THE INFORMATION and the technology at their fingertips to search and book travel themselves. They want to stay at independent boutique hotels, fly with low-cost carriers or amend their travel simply, while on the go. Managed travel transactions with companies such as Uber and Airbnb are on the rise.
A one-size-fits-all approach does, therefore, not cut it with today’s business traveller. That said, corporations still have to manage efficiently their travel management policies for all staff and seamlessly integrate trip authorisation, duty-of-care and negotiated rates with travel suppliers.
The traveller profile has had to expand, both in terms of data stored and how the profile is used. This is not something to be feared – in fact, it should be embraced. If buyers can offer truly personalised options to travellers, while staying within the confines of a travel policy, they can enrich the travel experience, create greater loyalty, and save time and money.
Airlines have been leading the way in this space. They have integrated customers’ personal data into the search and sales processes, enabling them to deliver personalised customer offers based on individual needs and preferences, and reward loyalty. Airlines are also maximising revenues from ancillary sales.
By improving value and enhancing the customer experience, TMCs can minimise the number of bookings made outside the managed channel. This makes it easier to meet sales targets and secure negotiated rates, and also simplifies the process of reporting back to key travel providers.
For buyers, having access to the most comprehensive travel content possible, including ancillaries from low-cost carriers and rooms at independent hotels, is critical. Agents should be able to see clearly suppliers’ key sales messages, products and services in a graphically-rich format, enabling them to effectively articulate, compare and contrast the value of these products. By doing so, they can better tailor offers and itineraries to corporate travellers.
The foundation necessary to enable true personalisation hinges on the amount of profile data kept and maintained by the organisation. When you provide unique content – tailored to the individual and based on the traveller profile – together with trip authorisation and duty-of-care, you are then offering a service that is above and beyond anything the traveller can easily achieve themselves, and you create real value.
PAUL TILSTONE, chief executive, Festive Road
TRAVELLER PROFILES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROBLEMATIC for TMCs and their corporate clients. They do their best to encourage travelling employees to provide as much detail as possible. But sometimes the data is sadly lacking. The profile – name, contact, loyalty card numbers, preferences and so on – sits in the GDS underneath a company profile, and it populates information as needed, in most cases.
But as we move to more dynamic booking processes, products and services, the profile is earmarked for greatness – just like your profile in Google, Amazon or Ebay. In a world where data can be collected from many places, the profile in travel is about to take on a more central role. Buying habits, social networks, leisure preferences, traveller demographics... this is the profile data of the future. This collateral will increasingly determine the products, prices and services presented to the client and allow for a more personalised service – whether you like it or not.
The key to the success of these dynamic profiles depends on many factors. Can you control it? Where should you house it? How secure is it? How far is the data used? How do we get the information in the first place? How can we maximise the benefits to all parties? How does it integrate with policy rules? How will its use affect service?
It’s my belief that the providers – and travel buyers – that focus on greater traveller data and take the time to invest in the creation of super profiles will be able to determine service enhancements, attract better content and, ultimately, create a better business travel experience. And if you don’t take the time to upgrade your profiling, someone else will.
To read the full article from Martin Ferguson on traveller profiling click here
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