Customers are increasingly going to trade their personal data for better, more personalised deals and travel firms who are set up to meet this challenge will win out in the future.
Graham Cooke, founder and chief executive of web analytics specialist QuBit, told Travel Convention delegates that “data ostriches” will lose out as the consumer takes on more power.
“They are going to be in charge of their data and are going to trade that for with you to get a better deal.
“99% of users are willing to allow cookies on their browser because they know the benefits of a more personalised experience.
“It will come to a point where users will have a problem if you do not provide a personalised service. The travel industry is sitting on the greatest asset of consumer data and a great opportunity to build a faster and more personalised experience for your customers.”
Cooke said the advent of Big Data – the ability to process huge amounts of customer information in a meaningful way – is the next big revolution online.
“It’s going to change the way you do business forever,” he said. “How do you recreate that high street sales experience on a laptop or a mobile device?
“You do not have that one-to-one connection you used to have. The sales funnel is far more complex online.
“Online there are barriers of complexity to providing a better experience for customers. How do you break those barriers down?
“At the moment we are in the dark and we have been in the dark for the last 15 years. This is what Big Data is going to do. It’s going to change our ability to understand our customers.
“We are coming into the light now. This is going to be the single best opportunity to sell more effectively.”
Cooke said a data-driven strategy will be like having a firm’s best sales person constantly available whenever a visitor comes to the website.
He picked out booking.com as a prime exponent in this area by showing visitors what the most viewed hotels are, something which provides a “trigger for conversion”.
QuBit customer Travelzoo is also using customer data to understand the best time to send its database a deals email, and Lowcost Holidays is using targeted messages to alert customers of price changes.
Cooke said 92% of customers to a travel website will not convert and 60% of visitors never return after a first visit, and yet firms are spending a lot of money attracting them to the site.
And yet the company behind the site knows a lot about that visitor, but is not using that information to create a more personalised experience that could persuade them to book.
Big Data will allow the often-conflicting requirements of web marketers and technology developers to come together to create a more agile, quicker working environment, Cooke said.
Using tag management, he said websites’ codes can be changed very quickly so that what used to take a day can now take a matter of seconds.
To prove this he showed a video demonstrating how a change was made by QuBit developers in 38 seconds, faster than it took someone to eat a hot dog.
“That allows you to understand why the 92% of people are not converting. It’s about making sure that information is there, making sure you are telling the customer what they want.”
Cooke said QuBit is allowing its customers to gain valuable feedback about their sites and that there has been a 26% increase in negative feedback with 66% of people saying they were disappointed about the lack of information available.