The move towards personalisation in travel is set to continue but could go too far, delegates at last week’s BrightOnTravel conference were warned.
The event, the second after the inaugural conference last year, was organised by Brighton-based digital agency CWTdigital as part of the town’s month-long Digital Festival.
Simon Powell, founder of Eysys, which has created Holistic, an eCommerce machine learning platform, said taken too far there was a danger that customers are offered nothing new.
However, he said that personalisation through the exploitation of data through various algorithms, although nothing really new, is only set to become more widespread.
“Attracting an audience and getting them to transact on your site all revolves around data,” said Powell.
“There is just so much information today that we have to understand the information that’s there and get to the information that’s relevant.
“The most important aspect to this as a customer is when you find things you didn’t know existed and actually really want.
“The age of search has changed. The position Google has taken is all about relevancy and personalisation is about relevancy.
“These problems have been around for ages and data mining issues around getting validation is what software has been doing for an awful long time.”
Powell said firms looking to personalise their offering will face a “cold start” problem but that they must start from somewhere before their processes get more sophisticated.
“These engines actually learn so you have to actually start with something. Do you just give a sample, do you just guess? – there’s lots of different ways of getting to first base.
“Most people start to personalise into groups or cohorts of people. Then it’s around getting that deeper personalisation, so you are actually personalising on the personalisation.
“That then means the results become a lot more meaningful to the individual. But there is a danger of over-personalisation as well.
“If we over-personalise we will show nothing new to anybody. It is an issue that could exist.”
Powell used the example of Netflix’s offer of $1mn for someone who was able to increase its personalisation by 10% to show how this is about small incremental gains.
“All the great minds working in this area got onto this and it took three years for one person to get there,” he said.
“When you are looking at personalisation it’s all about using a multitude of engines or algorithms in order to get the right result.
“From our perspective it’s about knowing what’s going on in each of the different steps of the sales funnel.
“Knowing the correct calls to action and giving the right information to get a response at all of those levels.”
Powell added: “Personalisation is obviously here to stay – it’s just another element of getting people to you website and getting them to transact.”