Personalisation in digital advertising can sometimes go ‘too far’ at which point human input is needed to make the process more impactful.
The warning of over-doing automation came at Travolution’s first Digital Lunchbox event, hosted by Facebook and sponsored by d-flo and Intent Media.
Speakers Stephanie Uhlig, managing director UK at eDreams ODIGEO, Dan Robb, director of digital marketing at TuiTravel and Alex Robinson, strategic partnerships manager at HotelTonight were discussing ‘friction points’ when it comes to customer experience.
All three speakers agreed that more streamlined, targeted marketing is becoming increasingly non-negotiable in travel marketing as acquisition costs rise.
But they were careful to stress that too much personalisation can end up causing more damage than good.
Robb said: “You’ve got to be careful when you start to blend commercial opportunities and customer relationship management.
“I think all of us in this room are exhausting remarketing, certainly in our business, to the point where we feel like we are stalking people a little bit.
“I personally have been through a booking processes where I think, ‘you should be talking to me about what you’re trying to talk to me about now because you haven’t had enough data from me’.
“There is nothing more frustrating than being served an advert from Easyjet with cheap flights to Palma, two weeks after you’ve booked. You just think ‘release me from your cycle’.”
Hoteltonight’s Robinson, whose company has recently launched a designated hotel concierge service as part of its mobile app in the USA, added:
“Part of the personalisation process is knowing whether that person actually wants it.
“The customer can get part way down the funnel and realise they want to pull away from that concierge service, for example.”
Robb said reintroducing the ‘human touch’ to the marketing process can create a more happy balance.
“We are all behind when it comes to what the consumer is demanding,” he said. “They outstrip our ability to react and always will.
“It is true that you can use proven technology to do a lot of things people can do, but mainly I think data-based decisions will help streamline what you want your people to do.
“We [at Tui] are still increasing our workforce. We still need people to do sensitive things.
“Giving those people access to technology to do their job better is fundamental. It can be as simple as giving your travel reps iPads containing customer information.
“Knowing someone has been to your hotel more than once is hugely beneficial but beyond many businesses.”
Through HotelTonight’s envisaged app service of the future, which streamlines all of a hotel’s internal processes, staff can be freed up from mundane tasks to be utilised elsewhere.
“If we know that a big booking is not going to arrive it can result in, for example, the restaurant being overstaffed,” said Robinson.
“To combat that, we can send subtle messages to existing guests with some discount offers to encourage them into the restaurant.”
Uhlig added: “Customer service is tough to do really well.
“You need to think about how do we do it in a more customer-centric way, rather than pushing out what we think is interesting.”